- JOB SATISFACTION OVERVIEW
- VARIABLES OF JOB SATISFACTION/DISSATISFACTION
- OTHER VARIABLES OF JOB SATISFACTION/DISSATISFACTION
- THE IMPORTANCE OF JOB SATISFACTION
- THE IMPORTANCE OF JOB SATISFACTION TO EMPLOYEE RETENTION
- APPLICATION OF JOB SATISFACTION IN THE WORKPLACE
- MEASURES OF JOB SATISFACTION
- RESEARCH ON JOB SATISFACTION
- CORRELATION VERSUS CAUSATION
- EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH ON JOB SATISFACTION
- THE CONSEQUENCES OF JOB DISSATISFACTION
- RESEARCH ON THE CONSEQUENCES OF JOB DISSATISFACTION
Job Satisfaction Overview
Job satisfaction is the most widely researched job attitude and among the most extensively researched subjects in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (Judge & Church, 2000). Several work motivation theories have corroborated the implied role of job satisfaction. Work satisfaction theories, such as Maslow’s (1943) Hierarchy of Needs, Hertzberg’s (1968) Two-Factor (Motivator-Hygiene) Theory, Adam’s (1965) Equity Theory, Porter and Lawler’s (1968) modified version of Vroom’s (1964) VIE Model, Locke’s (1969) Discrepancy Theory, Hackman and Oldham’s (1976) Job Characteristics Model, Locke’s (1976) Range of Affect Theory, Bandura’s (1977) Social Learning Theory, and Landy’s (1978) Opponent Process Theory, have tried to explain job satisfaction and its influence, .
Such expansive research has resulted in job satisfaction being linked to productivity, motivation, absenteeism/tardiness, accidents, mental/physical health, and general life satisfaction (Landy, 1978). A common theory within the research has been that, to an extent, the emotional state of an individual is affected by interactions with their work environment. People identify themselves by their profession, such as a doctor, lawyer, or teacher. Hence, an individual's personal well-being at work is a significant aspect of research (Judge & Klinger, 2007).
The most widely accepted theory of job satisfaction was proposed by Locke (1976), who defined job satisfaction as “a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one’s job or job experiences” (Locke, 1975, p.1304). Job satisfaction has emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components (Bernstein & Nash, 2008). The emotional component refers to job-related feelings such as boredom, anxiety, acknowledgement and excitement. The cognitive component of job satisfaction pertains to beliefs regarding one's job whether it is respectable, mentally demanding / challenging and rewarding. Finally, the behavioral component includes people's actions in relation to their work such as tardiness, working late, faking illness in order to avoid work (Bernstein & Nash, 2008).
Job satisfaction refers to the positive attitudes or emotional dispositions people may gain from work or through aspects of work. Employees’ job satisfaction becomes a central attention in the researches and discussions in work and organizational psychology because it is believed to have relationship with the job performance.
There are essentially two types of job satisfaction based on the level of employees' feelings regarding their jobs. The first, and most analysed, is global job satisfaction, which refers to employees' overall feelings about their jobs (e.g., "Overall, I love my job.") (Mueller & Kim, 2008). The second is job facet satisfaction, which refers to feelings regarding specific job aspects, such as salary, benefits, work hierarchy (reporting structure), growth opportunities, work environment and the quality of relationships with one's co-workers (e.g., "Overall, I love my job, but my schedule is difficult to manage.") (Mueller & Kim, 2008). According to Kerber and Campbell (1987), measurements of job facet satisfaction helps identify specific aspects of a job that require improvement. The findings may aid organizations in improving overall job satisfaction or in understanding organizational issues such as high turnover (Kerber & Campbell, 1987).
There are several myths regarding job satisfaction. One such myth is that a happy employee is a productive employee (Syptak et al., 1999). Research has offered little to support that a happy employee is productive, on the contrary, some research has suggested that casualness may creep in, shifting from productivity to satisfaction (Bassett, 1994). Hence, if there is a correlation, it is a weak one. Knowing that research does not support the idea that happiness and employee satisfaction creates higher production, why do I/O psychologists and organizations still attempt to keep employees happy? Many have pointed out that I/O psychologists research perspective moves beyond increasing the bottom line of an organization. Happy employees do not negatively affect productivity and can have a positive effect at workplace and on society at large. It also positively impacts the organization's brand image. Therefore, it still benefits all parties to have happy and satisfied employees. Another fallacy is that the pay is the most important factor in job satisfaction. In reality, employees are more satisfied when they enjoy the environment in which they work (Berry, 1997). An individual can have a high paying job and not be satisfied because it is boring and lacks sufficient stimulation. In fact, a low-paying job can be seen as satisfying if it is adequately challenging or stimulating. There are numerous factors that must be taken into consideration when determining how satisfied an employee is with his or her job, and it is not always easy to determine which factors are most important to each employee. Job satisfaction is very subjective for each employee and each situation being assessed.
Variables of Job Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction
People tend to evaluate their work experiences based on feelings of satisfaction or dissatisfaction regarding their job, as well as the organization in which they work (Jex, 2002). There are many probable influences that affect how favorably an individual appraises his or her job. Through years of extensive research, I/O psychologists have identified numerous variables that seem to contribute to either job satisfaction or organizational commitment (Glisson & Durick, 1988). To explain the development of job satisfaction, researchers have taken three common approaches: job characteristics, social information processing (organizational characteristics), and dispositional (worker characteristics) (Glisson & Durick, 1988; Jex, 2002).
Job characteristics approach research has revealed that the nature of an individual’s job or the characteristics of the organization predominantly determines job satisfaction (Jex, 2002). According to Hackman & Oldham (1980), a job characteristic is an aspect of a job that generates ideal conditions for high levels of motivation, satisfaction, and performance. Furthermore, Hackman & Oldham (1980) proposed five core job characteristics that all jobs should contain: skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback. They also defined four personal and work outcomes: internal work motivation, growth satisfaction, general satisfaction, and work effectiveness which have been added to the more popular dimensions of job satisfaction assessment: the work itself, pay, promotional opportunities, supervision, and co-worker relations (Smith et al., 1969).
A common premise in research of the effects of job circumstances on job satisfaction is that individuals assess job satisfaction by comparing the current receivables from the job with what they believe they should receive (Jex, 2002). For example, if an employee receiving an annual salary of $45,000 believes that he or she should be receiving a salary of $43,000, then he or she will experience satisfaction; however, if the employee believes that he or she should be receiving $53,000, then he or she will feel dissatisfied. This comparison would apply to each job facet including: skill level, seniority, promotional opportunities, supervision, etc. (Jex, 2002).
According to Locke (1976), this process becomes even more complex since the importance of work facets differs as per individual perception. For example, one employee may feel that pay rate is extremely important while another may feel that social relationships are more important. To explain the effects of these differences, Locke (1976) put forth the ideas of the range of affect theory. The hypothesis of this theory is that employees weigh facets differently while assessing job satisfaction (Locke, 1976). Consequently, this leads to an individual measure of satisfaction or dissatisfaction when expectations are met or not. For example, the job satisfaction of an employee who places extreme importance on pay would be positively impacted if he or she receives a salary within expectation. Conversely, his or her level of pay would minimally impact the job satisfaction of an employee who places little importance on pay.
Social information processing (organizational characteristics)
Based mainly on Festinger’s (1954) Social Comparison Theory, Jex (2002) explains that during social information processing, employees look to co-workers to make sense of and develop attitudes about their work environment. In other words, if employees find their co-workers positive and satisfied then they will most likely be satisfied; however, if their co-workers are negative and dissatisfied then the employee will most likely become dissatisfied. New hires may become “tainted” during the socialization process if placed around employees who are dissatisfied (Jex, 2002). Although laboratory studies have found that social information has a prevailing impact on job satisfaction and characteristic perceptions, organizational tests have been less supportive (Jex & Spector, 1989).
Weiss and Shaw conducted a study that required subjects to view a training video where assembly-line workers either made positive or negative comments regarding their jobs. The subjects who viewed the video were then given the opportunity to perform the job. The study found that the subjects who were shown the positive video enjoyed performing the job tasks more than the subjects who viewed the negative tape (Aamondt, 2009).
Mirolli et al., (1998) also conducted a similar study. In this study, the subjects performed a task with two experimenters pretending to be other subjects (referred to as confederates). In one condition, positive comments were made by the confederates about the job and how much they enjoyed it. In the second condition, the confederates made negative comments about the job and how much they disliked it. In the control condition, no positive or negative comments were made regarding the job. The actual subjects exposed to the confederates who made positive comments rated the job tasks as more enjoyable than the subjects exposed to the negative comments by the confederates. This further supports social information processing theory (Aamondt, 2009).
Generally, “the research on social information processing theory supports the idea that social environment does have an effect on employees’ attitudes and behaviors” (Aamondt, 2009, p. 374).
As an application of social information processing theory, Netzwerk, an IT company in Germany, implemented rules in their contracts. Employees who work at this company must sign a contract agreeing not to whine or complain and have even fired employees for excessive whining (Aamondt, 2009).
Dispositional (worker characteristics)
Internal disposition is the crux of the latest method of explaining job satisfaction which hints some people being inclined to be satisfied or dissatisfied with their work irrespective of the nature of the job or the organizational environment (Jex, 2002). More simply put, some people are genetically positive in disposition (the glass half full), whereas others are innately negative in disposition (the glass half empty). For instance, a study of twins who were reared apart (same genetic characteristics but different experiences) found that 30 percent of inconsistency in satisfaction was accredited to genetic factors (Arvey et al., 1989). Although individuals change jobs and employers, individual disposition has been shown to be consistent by the use of survey results on job satisfaction (Staw & Ross, 1985). Additionally, Staw et al. (1986) found that adolescent evaluations of affective disposition were correlated with adult job satisfaction as many as forty years later.
Several years of research have been conducted on the dispositional source of job satisfaction, and have presented strong evidence that job satisfaction, to some extent, is based on disposition (Judge & Larsen, 2001). Dispositional affect is the predisposition to experience related emotional moods over time (Judge & Kammeyer-Mueller, 2008). Accordingly, this approach assumes that an employee’s attitude about his or her job originates from an internal (mental) state. Positive affect is a predisposition favorable to positive emotional experience, whereas negative affect is a predisposition to experience a wide array of negative emotions (Watson, Clark, & Carey, 1988). Positive affective people feel enthusiastic, active, alert and optimistic while negative affective people feel anger, contempt, disgust, guilt, fear and nervousness (Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988).
There is ample evidence supporting disposition causing job satisfaction from a Social Cognitive aspect as well. Causation through disposition indicates that job satisfaction can be determined by an individual's general overall outlook. In psychology, Cognitive Theory of Depression states that an individual’s thought process and perceptions can be a source of unhappiness. Moreover, the automated thoughts and processes (Beck, 1987) resulting from irrational and dysfunctional thinking perpetuate emotions of depression and unhappiness in individuals. Judge and Locke (1992) examined these concepts in detail. They discussed cognitive processes like perfectionism, over-generalization and dependence on others as causation for depression leading to unhappiness. They claimed that subjective well-being resulting from an affective disposition leads to individuals experiencing information recall regarding their job. In short, happy individuals tend to store and evaluate job information differently than unhappy individuals. This type of recollection indicates that job satisfaction may be influenced by subjective well-being. Tait, Padgett, and Baldwin (1989) performed a meta-analytic review discovering an average correlation between job and life satisfaction to be 0.44, which supports the theory of dispositional effect on job satisfaction. In addition, Howard and Bray (1988) determined through a study they performed on AT&T managers that motives such as ambition and desire to get ahead serve as some of the strongest predictors for advancement. Also, Bandura (1986) states that individual's aspirations become their standards of self-satisfaction indicating that those with high goals, theoretically, should be harder to satisfy than people with low goals. This would indicate that a high level of ambition resulting from high standards can point to a lower satisfaction as an end result. In addition, it is often the case that unsatisfied workers are highly ambitious but unhappy as a result of their inability to be promoted within an organization. For this reason, ambition can negatively influence job satisfaction. However, Judge and Locke (1992) caution that dysfunctional thinking is not singularly responsible for dispositional factors affecting job satisfaction. They mention self-esteem, locus of control, self-efficacy, intelligence, and ambition as well.
Social Cognitive aspects have been found to contribute significantly to job satisfaction; however, researchers have not conducted simultaneous comparison of these approaches (Baker, 2004). Job characteristics have been shown to impact job satisfaction (Baker, 2004). Recent studies on social informational processing have found that leadership actions influence job satisfaction (Baker, 2004). Various research findings have indicated that a relationship between disposition and job satisfaction does in fact exist. Weiss and Cropanzano (1996) advocated that emotionally significant procedures at work may be influenced by disposition, which in turn influences job satisfaction. Job characteristics have been favored in research (Thomas et al., 2004); however, less research has been conducted on the dispositional approach, since it is fairly new (Coutts & Gruman, 2005).
Other Variables of Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction
Life satisfaction is often considered separately from job satisfaction with regard to productivity in the workplace, but since the majority of this research is correlational, it is crucial to explore potential relationships between these two factors themselves rather than strictly with regard to performance. Research suggests there is in fact a significant relationship between job satisfaction and life satisfaction, with a correlation of 0.44 (based on a meta analysis of 34 studies with a combined sample size of 19,811) (Tait et al., 1989). With this relationship being correlational, causation cannot be determined, though it is suggested that the nature of the relationship is reciprocal or bi-directional. (Judge et al., 1993) In other words, life satisfaction may positively influence job satisfaction and job satisfaction will also positively influence life satisfaction. Conversely, some research suggests that life satisfaction often precedes and is a good predictor of job satisfaction (Judge et al., 1993). Nevertheless, one cannot deny there is a significant relationship between job satisfaction and life satisfaction based on correlational research (Jones, 2006).
It is difficult to establish all the antecedents that lead to job satisfaction. However, an additional construct that has a positive correlation to job satisfaction is engagement. In a meta-analysis, the correlation between job satisfaction and engagement is 0.22 (Harter et al., 2002). Stirling (2008) notes that 20 percent of engaged individuals do 80 percent of the work. An engaged team member is one who is enthusiastic about the organization and the work they do. Examples of employee engagement include a team member helping another struggling to complete a task, or an associate who take over and completes a pending task in the absence of the responsible party. Therefore, it is crucial to continue to cultivate job satisfaction among such highly productive individuals.
A study completed examined three possible factors which play a part in employee engagement. The three factors are vigor, dedication, and absorption (Alarcon & Lyons, 2010). Vigor is directly related to the amount of energy and effort an individual will put forth to complete a task, regardless of difficulties (Alarcon & Lyons, 2010). Dedication relates to the amount of overall significance a task carries and absorption is the depth of work immersion the individual experiences (Alarcon & Lyons, 2010). The study found that the three factors all had an impact on engagement, however they also noted that a positive disposition toward one’s job also correlated with positive engagement (Alarcon & Lyons, 2010).
The Importance of Job Satisfaction
As mentioned in the overview, job satisfaction has been linked to many variables including performance, absenteeism and turnover, which will be discussed further in this section.
Job satisfaction is significant because a person's attitude and beliefs may affect his or her behavior. Attitudes and beliefs may cause a person to work harder or work less. Job satisfaction also impacts a person's general well being for the simple reason that people spend a good part of the day at work. Consequently, a person's dissatisfaction with work could lead to dissatisfaction in other areas of life.
The relationship between job satisfaction and job performance has a long and controversial history. Researchers were first made aware of the link between satisfaction and performance through the 1924-1933 Hawthorne studies (Naidu, 1996). Since the Hawthorne studies, numerous researchers have critically examined the idea that "a happy worker is a productive worker". Research results of Iaffaldano and Muchinsky (1985) have found a weak connection, approximately 0.17, between job satisfaction and job performance. However, research conducted by Organ (1988) discovered that a stronger connection between performance and satisfaction could not be established because of the narrow definition of job performance. Organ (1988) believes that when the definition of job performance includes behaviors such as organizational citizenship (the extent to which one's voluntary support contributes to the success of an organization) the relationship between satisfaction and performance will improve. Judge, Thoreson, Bono, and Patton (2001) discovered that after correcting the sampling and measurement errors of 301 studies, the correlation between job satisfaction and job performance increased to 0.30. It is important to note that the connection between job satisfaction and job performance is higher for difficult jobs than for less difficult jobs (Saari & Judge, 2004).
A link does exist between job satisfaction and job performance; however, it is not as strong as one would like to believe. The weak link may be attributed to factors such as job structure or economic conditions. For example, some jobs are designed so that a minimum level of performance is required providing no scope for greater satisfaction. moreover, in times of high unemployment, dissatisfied employees will perform well, choosing unsatisfying work over unemployment.
In 2006, researcher Michelle Jones analyzed three studies combining 74 separate investigations of job satisfaction and job performance in 12,000 workers. She wrote: "The conclusions drawn by these researchers, and many others, indicate the presence of a positive, but very weak, relationship between job satisfaction and job performance" (Jones, 2006). Jones argues that we have been measuring the wrong kind of satisfaction. Instead of job satisfaction, we should be looking at the link between overall satisfaction with life and output at work (Bright, 2008). In this study, Jones implies that the more satisfied we are with our life in general, the more productive we will be in our jobs.
One of the more widely researched topics in Industrial Psychology is the relationship between job satisfaction and employee absenteeism (Cheloha, & Farr, 1980). It is only natural to assume that if individuals dislike their jobs then they will often call in sick, or simply look for a new opportunity. Yet again, the link between these factors and job satisfaction is weak. The correlation between job satisfaction and absenteeism is 0.25 (Johns, 1997). It is likely that a satisfied worker may miss work due to illness or personal matters, while an unsatisfied worker may not miss work because he or she does not have any sick time and cannot afford the loss of income. When people are satisfied with their job they are more likely to attend work even if they have a cold; however, if they are not satisfied with their job, they would be more likely to call in sick even when they are well enough to work.
According to a meta-analysis of 42 studies, the correlation between job satisfaction and turnover is 0.24 (Carsten, & Spector, 1987). One obvious factor affecting turnover would be an economic downturn, during which unsatisfied workers may not have other employment opportunities. On the other hand, a satisfied worker may be forced to resign his or her position for personal reasons such as illness or relocation. This holds true for the men and women of the US Armed Forces, who might fit well in a job but are often made to relocate regardless. In such case, it would be next to impossible to measure any correlation of job satisfaction. Furthermore, a person is more likely to be actively searching for another job if they have low satisfaction; whereas, a person who is satisfied with his or her job is less likely to be job hunting.
Another researcher viewed the relationship between job satisfaction and an employee's intent to leave the organization, turnover intention, as mediated by workplace culture. Medina (2012) found that job satisfaction was strongly inversely correlated with turnover intention and this relationship was mediated by satisfaction in workplace culture. The study provides evidence that should be further explored to aid in the understanding of employee turnover and job satisfaction; particularly in how job satisfaction and employee turnover relate to workplace culture (Medina, 2012).
The Importance of Job Satisfaction to Employee Retention
The following video depicts the importance of job satisfaction to employee retention. Employee retention is one of the most difficult operational areas for human resources managers to determine exactly why employees leave the organization, and what they should do to retain them. This is of primary importance because organizations invest significant resources in training, developing, tangible and intangible compensation and taking the time to build organizational citizenship and buy-in to goals and objectives (Kazi, & Zadeh, 2011). In difficult economies and highly competitive markets, both organizations and employees want the best resources. Job dissatisfaction leads to job turnover. This dissatisfaction can be from intrinsic or extrinsic factors (PSU WC, L11, p.5). Job turnover can result from various conditions such as job satisfaction. Job satisfaction is multi-faceted, implying that one can be satisfied in one area but does not necessarily mean satisfaction in all areas; likewise, dissatisfaction in one area does not mean complete job dissatisfaction (Kazi, & Zadeh, 2011). Additionally, job turnover can also be related to work-life conflict. The work life and personal life is an individual’s experience to maintain harmony (balance) between work and personal relationships. Kazi & Zadeh propose that an imbalance or dissatisfaction in work leads to dissatisfaction in personal life. This can lead to job turnover. This is precisely what Swift (2007) reported in his article about having a more fulfilled and productive workforce. For organizations to remain competitive, they need to understand and address the issues around work-life balance to maintain job satisfaction among employees. To support this idea, Bright (2008) article reports that people who are happy with life are happier employees and show better organizational citizenship, courtesy and conscientiousness.
Employee satisfaction is of utmost importance for employees to remain happy and also deliver their level best. Satisfied employees are the ones who are extremely loyal towards their organization and stick to it even in the worst scenario. The first benefit of employee satisfaction is that individuals hardly think of leaving their current jobs. Employee satisfaction is essential to ensure higher revenues for the organization. Satisfied employees tend to adjust more and handle pressure with ease as compared to frustrated ones.
Job Satisfaction and Retirement
In a 2013 study from Lehigh University, individuals begin to think about retirement in their early years and develop a plan of action over the years. While individuals who begin working a career earlier on in their life plan to retire earlier, individuals who begin a career later in life, plan to retire later in life as well. The research shows that job satisfaction has very little to do with how we plan for our retirement. While the survey shows that many individuals do consider income, location and attitude when discussing retirement options, they do not solely decide if and when retirement is an option for them nor do the factors (poor work environment, long hours, unhappy with position, etc) (Lehigh University, 2013) There are many studies that have questioned if job satisfaction is something that you experience more in your younger years or older. Studies have returned with both sets of results. Some individuals have more job satisfaction in their earlier years while others experience it more when they are older. So, it is undetermined if you will retire from a job that you have been satisfied at or unsatisfied at.
Application of Job Satisfaction in the Workplace
The application of job satisfaction in the workplace is a difficult concept to grasp due to its individualistic and situational nature. What one employee desires from work, another may not. For instance, one employee may put salary in high regard, while another may find autonomy the most important. Unfortunately, one aspect alone will most likely not effect an employee's job satisfaction. According to Syptak, Marsland, and Ulmer (1999), there are numerous aspects of a job through which an organization can manage increase satisfaction in the workplace, such as:
- Company Policies - Policies that are transparent, fair and applied equally to all employees will decrease dissatisfaction. Therefore, fairness and clarity are crucial in improving employee attitude. For example, if a company has a policy for lunch breaks having the same length and time for all, it will be seen as a norm and will help cut down on wasted time and low productivity.
- Salary/Benefits - Making sure employee salaries and benefits are comparable to other organization salaries and benefits will help raise satisfaction. If a company wishes to produce a competitive product they must also offer competitive wages. Furthermore, this can help reduce turnover, as employees will invariably be more satisfied when paid competitive wages as opposed to being underpaid.
- Interpersonal/Social Relations - Encouraging employees to develop a social aspect to their job may increase satisfaction as well as develop a sense of teamwork. Co-worker relationships will benefit the organization as a whole since teamwork is a very important aspect of organization productivity and success. Moreover, when people are allowed to develop work relationships they care more about pulling their own weight and not letting co-workers down. Employee involvement groups are a great way to help employee's interact with individuals outside their department or organization.
- Working Conditions - upgrading facilities and equipment and ensuring employees have adequate personal workspace can decrease dissatisfaction. A cramped employee is a frustrated employee plus faulty equipment leads to frustration in trying to get work done.
- Achievement - Ensuring employees are appropriately placed to utilize their talents may enhance satisfaction. When employees are given proper role and feel a sense of achievement and challenge, their talents will be in line with the goals best suited for them.
- Recognition - Ensuring a job well done is duly acknowledged increases the likelihood of employee satisfaction. Positive and constructive feedback boosts an employee's morale and helps them work at the desired level and towards the desired direction.
- Autonomy - Giving employees the freedom and sense of ownership of their work may help raise job satisfaction as the individuals realise they are responsible for the outcome of their work.
- Advancement - Allowing employees showing high performance and loyalty, the room to advance will help ensure satisfaction. A new / higher position and sense of responsibility can often increase job satisfaction in an employee.
- Job Security - Especially in times of economic uncertainty, job security is a very crucial factor in determining an employee's job satisfaction. Giving an employee the assurance that their job is secure will most likely increase job satisfaction.
- Work-life Balance Practices- In times where the average household is changing, it is becoming increasingly important for an employer to recognize the delicate balancing act that its employees perform between their personal life and work life. Policies that cater to common personal and family needs can be essential to maintaining job satisfaction.
A study published by The Families and Work Institute shows that, despite the numerous aspects of a job, there are a few that specifically allow for greater improvement of satisfaction. According to their study, workplace support and job quality collectively account for 70 percent of the factors influencing job satisfaction. Surprisingly, earnings and benefits only account for 2 percent (Employee Retention Headquarters, n.d.).
When it comes to ensuring job satisfaction in the workplace, it is important to look at all aspects of job satisfaction. Every employee is different and will have different views which makes job satisfaction extremely hard to research; however, Everett (1995) suggests that responsible employees ask themselves the following questions:
- When have I come closest to expressing my full potential in a work situation?
- What did it look like?
- What aspects of the workplace were most supportive?
- What aspects of the work itself were most satisfying?
- What did I learn from that experience that could be applied to the present situation?
For the employee to answer these questions, job satisfaction must be fully deployed within the organization. Listed in the above section are numerous aspects that organizations can utilize to help increase satisfaction. In addition to these aspects, organizations must also consider the needs of the employee. For example, an employee, who is a great asset to the company as he or she is highly educated and motivated, may have personal issues such as a child who requires daycare. As a remedy, organizations could allow flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting, which would create a win-win situation both for the employee and the organization. Additionally, an organization should provide more opportunities for employees to help increase job satisfaction. Consequently, this would peak an interest in the employee, allowing him/her to take more pride in his or her work. Allowing married women the flexibility to work from home is another consideration. Although research might be difficult for job satisfaction theories, especially within the correlation field, there is just enough useful information to help employees and organizations become successful and enjoy their jobs, provided the right type of leadership is at the helm.
Measures of Job Satisfaction
The following are measures of job satisfaction as outlined by Fields (2002):
- Overall Job Satisfaction - Cammann, Fichman, Jenkins, and Klesh (1983) developed this measure as part of the Michigan Organizational Assessment Questionnaire (OAQ). In this measure three items are used to describe an employee’s subjective response to working in the specific job and organization (Fields, 2002, p. 20).
- Job Descriptive Index (JDI) - This was originally developed by Smith, Kendall, and Hulin (1969). There are 72 items in this index which assess five facets of job satisfaction which includes: the work, pay, promotions, supervision and co-workers. Through the combination of ratings of satisfaction with the facets, a composite measure of job satisfaction is determined. Roznowski (1989) updated the JDI to include work atmosphere, job content and work technology. A shorter 30-item version, was developed by Gregson (1990) based on 6 items which included work, pay, promotions, supervision and co-workers (Fields, 2002, p. 23).
- Global Job Satisfaction - Warr, Cook, and Wall (1979) developed this measure which includes 15 items to determine overall job satisfaction. Two sub-scales are used for extrinsic and intrinsic aspects of the job. The extrinsic section has eight items and the intrinsic has seven items (Fields, 2002, p. 27).
- Job Satisfaction Relative to Expectations - Bacharach, Bamberger, and Conley (1991) developed this measure. It assesses the degree “of agreement between the perceived quality of broad aspects of a job and employee expectations” (Fields, 2002, p. 6). It is most effective in determining how job stresses, role conflicts, or role ambiguities can hinder an employee from meeting job expectations (Fields, 2002, p. 6).
- Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire - The long form of this survey is made up of 100 questions based on 20 sub-scales which measure satisfaction with “ability, utilization, achievement, activity, advancement, authority, company policies and practices, compensation, co-workers, creativity, independence, moral values, recognition, responsibility, security, social service, social status, supervision-human relations, supervision-technical variety, and working conditions” (Fields, 2002, p. 7). There is a shorter version of the MSQ which consists of 20 items. This can also be separated into two sub-scales for intrinsic and extrinsic satisfaction.
- Job in General Scale - This measure was developed by Ironson, Smith, Brannick, Gibson and Paul (1989). It consists of 18 items which describe global job satisfaction and can be used in conjunction with the JDI, which assesses satisfaction with five job facets. This was developed to “assess global satisfaction independent from satisfaction with facets” (Fields, 2002, p. 9).
- Job Satisfaction Survey - This was developed by Spector (1985) and contains 36 items based on nine job facets. The job facets include pay, promotion, supervision, benefits, contingent rewards, operating procedures, co-workers, nature of work and communication. When it was initially developed, it was specific to job satisfaction in human service, nonprofit and public organizations (Fields, 2002, p. 14).
- Job Satisfaction Index - Schriescheim and Tsue, (1980) developed this measure. It consists of six items that form and index what determines overall job satisfaction. The items are work, supervision, co-workers, pay, promotion opportunities and the job in general (Fields, 2002, p. 16).
- Job Diagnostic Survey - Hackman and Oldham (1974) developed this survey which measures both overall and specific facets of job satisfaction. There are three dimensions of overall job satisfaction which includes general satisfaction, internal work motivation and growth satisfaction, which are combined into a single measure. The facets which are measured on the survey include security, compensation, co-workers and supervision (Fields, 2002, p. 20).
- Career Satisfaction - Greenhaus, Parasuraman, and Wormley (1990) developed this measure. This is a measure of career success as opposed to job satisfaction. It assesses general satisfaction with career outcome and satisfaction with career progress (Fields, 2002, p. 29).
Fields outlines specific types of employee satisfaction measures which describe an employee’s satisfaction with one or more aspects of their job. These include the following (Fields, 2002):
- Employee Satisfaction with Influence and Ownership developed by Rosen, Klein, and Young (1986).
- Satisfaction with Work Schedule Flexibility developed by Rothausen (1994).
- Satisfaction with My Supervisor developed by Scarpello and Vandenberg (1987).
Research on Job Satisfaction
Job satisfaction is the most frequently studied variable in organizational behavior (Spector, 1997). Research on job satisfaction is performed through various methods including interviews, observations and questionnaires. The questionnaire is the most frequently used research method because it is unrestrained in nature. Researchers can use an existing assessment tool or scale, as a means of assessment. Using an existing scale provides the researcher with a valid, reliable and consistent construct while assessing job satisfaction. Job satisfaction can be assessed using a general scale, facet satisfaction scale or global satisfaction scale. The Jobs Descriptive Index (JDI) is the most popular job satisfaction assessment tool with researchers (Spector, 1997). The JDI is broken down into five facets of satisfaction: work, pay, promotion, supervision and co-workers.
The most significant research study that shows the importance of job satisfaction is the Hawthorne studies (Muchinsky, 1985). The purpose of the study was to research the relationship between lighting and efficiency. The experiment was conducted in 1924 by researchers from Western Electric and Harvard University at the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company. Various sets of lights at various intensities were set up in rooms where electrical equipment was being produced. The amount of illumination (bright, dim, or a combination) provided to the workers seemed to have no effect on production. The results of the study were so unexpected that further investigation revealed many previously unknown aspects of human behavior in the workplace. Researchers learned that factors other than lighting affect worker's productivity. The workers responded positively to the attention they were receiving from the researchers and as a result, productivity rose. Job performance continued to improve because of the novelty of the situation; when the novelty wore off, production returned to its earlier level. Research has offered little support that a happy employee is productive; in fact, research suggests that causality may flow in the opposite direction from productivity to satisfaction (Bassett, 1994).
Research on this theory supports that job satisfaction is an important factor not only for employees but for organizations as well. For example, in a research survey by Grant, Fried, and Juillerat (2010) at a large bank, managers found that bank tellers were very dissatisfied with their jobs stating that they were "just glorified clerks". They also said that their jobs were boring and felt micromanaged because they were unable to make decisions even small ones, without the approval of their managers. In this case, the managers of the bank decided to re-design the teller jobs to increase job satisfaction. New tasks were added to provide variety and the use of a broad range of skills. In addition to their checking cash, deposit and loan payment tasks, they were trained to handle commercial and traveler's cheques as well as post payments online. The tellers were also given more autonomy in their roles and decision-making responsibilities. Finally, when feedback time approached, the managers felt that by re-designing the role of the teller they were giving the tellers responsibility to own their customers. In this particular case, it was observed that job satisfaction had increased. A survey was taken six months later and it was found that not only were the tellers more satisfied with their role but they were also more committed to the organization. Finally, during employee/manager evaluations, it was found that there was an increase in performance by the tellers and that the job satisfaction provided by the job redesign had effects lasting at least four years (Grant et al., 2010).
According to another study by Syptak, Marsland, and Ulmer (1999) satisfied employees tend to be more productive, creative and committed to their employers. Furthermore, recent studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between staff satisfaction and patient satisfaction. In the case of the physician's office, a study found that not only were the employees and patients more satisfied, the physicians found an increased level of job satisfaction as well. The study conducted in the physician's office was based on Herzberg's Motivation-Hygiene Theory. Hygiene factors are related to the work environment and include: company policies, supervision, salary, interpersonal relations and working conditions. Motivators factors are related to the job and make employees want to succeed and include: achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility and advancement. According to Herzberg, once the hygiene issues are addressed, the motivators promote job satisfaction and encourage production. In applying Herzberg's theory to the real life physician's practice. The study first addressed the hygiene factors "because these are important in creating an environment in which employee satisfaction and motivation are possible” (Syptak et al., 1999). The study discussed in detail each aspect of the hygiene factors and how the physicians could apply these factors to create an environment that promoted job satisfaction. The study then moved on to the motivators and again discussed in detail the aspects of each factor. Finally, "by creating an environment that promotes job satisfaction, you are developing employees who are motivated, productive and fulfilled” (Syptak et al., 1999). The image below provides a visual between the differences in motivators and de-motivators in job satisfaction.
Correlation versus Causation
While one may wish to understand which variables increase or decrease job satisfaction, it is important to remember that correlation is not equivalent to causation (Steinberg, 2008). Research has shown that there is a correlation between job satisfaction and performance, turnover, and absenteeism. A correlation indicates that there is a relationship between these variables; however, it does not explain "which variable, if either, caused the relationship" (Steinberg, 2008, p. 419). It is entirely possible that an outside variable is responsible for the correlation (Steinberg, 2008). For example, job satisfaction and job performance are positively correlated (when job satisfaction increases, job performance increases). However, for one person, satisfaction may increase because performance increases, whereas, for another, performance may increase because satisfaction increases. It is impossible to tell whether job satisfaction causes increased job performance or that job performance causes increased job satisfaction based on correlation alone.
The following is a list of alternative explanations of a correlation (Pearson, 2010):
- Reverse causation - The causal direction is opposite to what has been hypothesized; e.g., job performance causes an increase in job satisfaction rather than the other way around.
- Reciprocal causation -The two variables cause each other; e.g. high job satisfaction causes high job performance which then increases job satisfaction.
- Common-causal variables -Variables not part of the research hypothesis cause both the predictor and the outcome variable; e.g. individual disposition may cause both satisfaction and job performance.
- Spurious relationship -The common-causal variable produces and “explains away” the relationship between the predictor and outcome variables; e.g., individual differences in disposition as described above.
- Extraneous variables -Variables other than the predictor causes the outcome variable, but do not cause the predictor variable; e.g., pressure from a supervisor causes high performance.
- Mediating variables -Variables caused by the predictor variable in turn cause the outcome variable; e.g. experience could cause high performance which then could cause satisfaction (performance would be the mediating variable).
Experimental Research on Job Satisfaction
Even though job satisfaction is highly researched, only a few studies have conducted experiments in this area. Experimental research is very valuable for explaining the causation of the existing relationship between variables, while correlational studies only point out that these relationships exist and describe them.
Brief, Butcher, and Roberson (1995) conducted a field experiment with 57 hospital workers in order to examine how social information and disposition affect job satisfaction. The researchers tested three hypotheses; the first one was that negative affectivity (NA) is associated negatively with job satisfaction. The second one was that positive mood inducing events increase job satisfaction; and the last one was that the effects of positive events on job satisfaction are weaker among high NA individuals than they are among low NA individuals as a result of interaction of NA and positive mood inducing events (Brief et al., 1995). The subjects of this study were randomly assigned to two groups. The experimental group received positive mood-inducing incentives; they received cookies, soft drinks and attractively wrapped toys. The control group did not receive any incentives. Both groups filled out the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale (TMAS) that measured NA and questionnaires that measured job satisfaction (a modified version of Kunin’s Faces scale). The results demonstrated that a disposition to NA is negatively associated with job satisfaction. The next findings indicated that positive mood-induced events increased job satisfaction. The last results showed that the individuals with high NA are resistant to positive mood-induced events. All these results were consistent with the hypotheses.
This study supplements the knowledge of job satisfaction by providing valuable information about how social information processing (mood inducing events) and dispositional characteristics (NA as a personality trait) affect job satisfaction. The information provided by this research might be utilized by managers in personnel hiring process and to boost job satisfaction. The managers might use the instruments that measure NA and PA (positive affectivity) in order to predict job satisfaction among employees. In addition, they may introduce positive mood-inducing events in the form of incentives that would lead to increased job satisfaction.
The Consequences of Job Dissatisfaction
According to the exit- voice- loyalty- neglect- framework (Farrell, 1983), employees’ response to dissatisfaction with the workplace can take four forms, each of which differs from the others on two dimensions: active vs. passive and constructive vs. destructive. The four responses are:
- Exit: exit refers to behavior aimed at leaving the company, such as looking for a new job. Exit is a destructive and active response.
- Voice: voice refers to employee initiative to improve conditions in the organization, for example, offering ideas on how to improve the business. Voice is an active and constructive response.
- Loyalty: loyalty refers to an employee’s attitude of trust toward the organization. It can manifest itself as a passive but optimistic hope for improvements to come about. Loyalty is passive and constructive.
- Neglect: neglect occurs when an employee shows absenteeism, shows up late for work and puts less effort at work. By performing inadequately at work, the employee is allowing conditions to deteriorate. Neglect is passive and destructive.
So far we have only been focusing on Job Satisfaction but what about those who become dissatisfied? Only 30% of Americans enjoy their job which leads us to believe that nearly 70% of working Americans do not enjoy their job (Notte 2013). Not only is satisfaction important in running a happy and productive workplace because job dissatisfaction can cost the company. For example, unhappy workers that call in sick and find ways to avoid working cost U.S. companies $450 billion to $550 billion every year (Notte 2013). It is especially important for companies to not lose money due to their employees as loss due to employee neglect is a tremendous cost. Companies must better employ strategies and techniques listed above in order to increase overall job satisfaction and revenue in the company. Currently, nearly half of American employees are disengaged with their work causing them to not perform to their best. In order for companies to work best, they must have employees who are working their best; business must change and adapt to the employees in order to improve job satisfaction.
Cognitive belief about work is not a fixed emotion as it can be altered and influenced by current happenings in and out of the company which cause feelings to change for the better or worse. Job productivity, as well as many other important aspects to a happy work environment, has been proven to work better, with more satisfied workers. Changes in the structure of American business must significantly improve to increase the satisfaction of employees.
Research on the Consequences of Job Dissatisfaction
Researchers Henne & Locke (1985) designed a model that illustrates what they hypothesize happens to individuals who are dissatisfied with their jobs. When job dissatisfaction strikes it is merely an emotional state; in response to the emotional state people will devise an alternative plan that is dependent upon the individual, his estimation of the situation and his own capabilities or aspirations. The alternative plan (see diagram below) will be behavioral (action) or psychological (Henne & Locke, 1985).
(Henne & Locke, 1985)
- Performance - It’s almost intuitive to conclude that people who are dissatisfied don’t perform as well as people who are satisfied with their job. However this isn’t always the case; discontentment can trigger a change in people to come up with creative solutions to problems (Zhou & George, 2001). If a person is dissatisfied they may perform better to rectify the situation, so performance level may be high or low depending on the individual.
- Protest - Another form of action an unhappy worker may resort to, is the protest. One form of protest is unionization. People tend to join unions for a number of reasons, including support if there is a problem at work or to improve pay and work conditions (Wadditigton & Whitston, 1997). Protests are usually an attempt to change the cause of the unhappiness (Henne & Locke, 1985).
- Withdrawal - Absenteeism and/or leaving the job is another recourse a worker may take when they become dissatisfied in their workplace.
- Change perception – People can choose to change their outlook and views on life. They can decide that instead of focusing on things at the job that are dissatisfying, they would focus on things about the job they enjoy.
- Change values – Most companies have a mission statement or a group of core values. If there is a conflict between personal values and company values, a person can change their values to align with the company’s values in order to alleviate dissatisfaction.
- Change reaction – Another alternative an individual might have, while experiencing dissatisfaction, would be to avoid it using psychological defense mechanisms such as repression and evasion (Henne & Locke, 1985). He or she may choose to avoid aspects of the job they are unhappy with, or he or she may suppress their unhappiness.
- Toleration – Others may simply tolerate their displeasure. They may reason out that they derive happiness from other sources in their life so they can put up with the displeasure at work (Henne & Locke, 1985).
Consequences of Choices
- Life Satisfaction – Henne & Locke (1985) believed that work is a component of a person’s life and will affect one’s attitude towards life as a whole. "Since work is a component of one's life, it will affect one's attitude toward life as a whole." This is not exclusive, though. The effect on life satisfaction will depend on the importance of the job to the individual. (1985)
- Mental Health – Locke (1976) suggests that the existence of dissatisfaction implies conflict in the employee's mind and the conflict may lead to issues. Whether or not dissatisfaction will lead to mental illness depends on the causes. Mental illness is more likely when an individual's values and actions are part of the problem. (Henne & Lock, 1985).
- Physical Health - If the dissatisfaction event increases stress levels in an individual, it may have health implications. Many studies have proven the physical effects stress can have on the body including ulcers, headaches, high blood pressure, hyperacidity, and heart disease. (Henne & Locke, 1985)
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