Job satisfaction

Job satisfaction describes how content an individual is with his or her job.

The happier people are within their job, the more satisfied they are said to be. Job satisfaction is not the same as motivation, although it is clearly linked. Job design aims to enhance job satisfaction and performance, methods include job rotation, job enlargement and job enrichment. Other influences on satisfaction include the management style and culture, employee involvement, empowerment and autonomous work groups. Job satisfaction is a very important attribute which is frequently measured by organizations. The most common way of measurement is the use of rating scales where employees report their reactions to their jobs. Questions relate to rate of pay, work responsibilities, variety of tasks, promotional opportunities the work itself and co-workers. Some questioners ask yes or no questions while others ask to rate satisfaction on 1-5 scale (where 1 represents "not at all satisfied" and 5 represents "extremely satisfied").

Definitions

Job satisfaction has been defined as a pleasurable emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one’s job [Locke, 1976 cited in Brief, A. P., & Weiss, H. M. (2001). Organizational behavior: affect in the workplace. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 279-307, p. 282] ); an affective reaction to one’s job [Cranny, Smith & Stone, 1992 cited in Weiss, H. M. (2002). Deconstructing job satisfaction: separating evaluations, beliefs and affective experiences. Human Resource Management Review, 12, 173-194, p.174] ; and an attitude towards one’s job [Brief, 1998 cited in Weiss, H. M. (2002). Deconstructing job satisfaction: separating evaluations, beliefs and affective experiences. Human Resource Management Review, 12, 173-194, p. 174] . Weiss (2002) has argued that job satisfaction is an attitude but points out that researchers should clearly distinguish the objects of cognitive evaluation which are affect (emotion), beliefs and behaviours [Weiss, H. M. (2002). Deconstructing job satisfaction: separating evaluations, beliefs and affective experiences. Human Resource Management Review, 12, 173-194] . This definition suggests that we form attitudes towards our jobs by taking into account our feelings, our beliefs, and our behaviors.

History

One of the biggest preludes to the study of job satisfaction was the Hawthorne studies. These studies (1924-1933), primarily credited to Elton Mayo of the Harvard Business School, sought to find the effects of various conditions (most notably illumination) on workers’ productivity. These studies ultimately showed that novel changes in work conditions temporarily increase productivity (called the Hawthorne Effect). It was later found that this increase resulted, not from the new conditions, but from the knowledge of being observed. This finding provided strong evidence that people work for purposes other than pay, which paved the way for researchers to investigate other factors in job satisfaction.

Scientific management (aka Taylorism) also had a significant impact on the study of job satisfaction. Frederick Winslow Taylor’s 1911 book, Principles of Scientific Management, argued that there was a single best way to perform any given work task. This book contributed to a change in industrial production philosophies, causing a shift from skilled labor and piecework towards the more modern approach of assembly lines and hourly wages. The initial use of scientific management by industries greatly increased productivity because workers were forced to work at a faster pace. However, workers became exhausted and dissatisfied, thus leaving researchers with new questions to answer regarding job satisfaction. It should also be noted that the work of W.L. Bryan, Walter Dill Scott, and Hugo Munsterberg set the tone for Taylor’s work.

Some argue that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, a motivation theory, laid the foundation for job satisfaction theory. This theory explains that people seek to satisfy five specific needs in life – physiological needs, safety needs, social needs, self-esteem needs, and self-actualization. This model served as a good basis from which early researchers could develop job satisfaction theories.

Models of job satisfaction

Affect Theory

Edwin A. Locke’s Range of Affect Theory (1976) is arguably the most famous job satisfaction model. The main premise of this theory is that satisfaction is determined by a discrepancy between what one wants in a job and what one has in a job. Further, the theory states that how much one values a given facet of work (e.g. the degree of autonomy in a position) moderates how satisfied/dissatisfied one becomes when expectations are/aren’t met. When a person values a particular facet of a job, his satisfaction is more greatly impacted both positively (when expectations are met) and negatively (when expectations are not met), compared to one who doesn’t value that facet. To illustrate, if Employee A values autonomy in the workplace and Employee B is indifferent about autonomy, then Employee A would be more satisfied in a position that offers a high degree of autonomy and less satisfied in a position with little or no autonomy compared to Employee B. This theory also states that too much of a particular facet will produce stronger feelings of dissatisfaction the more a worker values that facet.

Dispositional Theory

Another well-known job satisfaction theory is the Dispositional Theory Fact|date=April 2007. It is a very general theory that suggests that people have innate dispositions that cause them to have tendencies toward a certain level of satisfaction, regardless of one’s job. This approach became a notable explanation of job satisfaction in light of evidence that job satisfaction tends to be stable over time and across careers and jobs. Research also indicates that identical twins have similar levels of job satisfaction.

A significant model that narrowed the scope of the Dispositional Theory was the Core Self-evaluations Model, proposed by Timothy A. Judge in 1998. Judge argued that there are four Core Self-evaluations that determine one’s disposition towards job satisfaction: self-esteem, general self-efficacy, locus of control, and neuroticism. This model states that higher levels of self-esteem (the value one places on his self) and general self-efficacy (the belief in one’s own competence) lead to higher work satisfaction. Having an internal locus of control (believing one has control over herhis own life, as opposed to outside forces having control) leads to higher job satisfaction. Finally, lower levels of neuroticism lead to higher job satisfaction Fact|date=April 2007.

Two-Factor Theory (Motivator-Hygiene Theory)

Frederick Herzberg’s Two factor theory (also known as Motivator Hygiene Theory) attempts to explain satisfaction and motivation in the workplace cite journal | author=J. R. Hackman, G. R. Oldham |name=HackmanOldham1976| title=Motivation through design of work | journal=Organizational behaviour and human performance | volume=16 | pages=250–279 | year = 1976 | doi=10.1016/0030-5073(76)90016-7 ] This theory states that satisfaction and dissatisfaction are driven by different factors – motivation and hygiene factors, respectively. Motivating factors are those aspects of the job that make people want to perform, and provide people with satisfaction, for example achievement in work, recognition, promotion opportunities. These motivating factors are considered to be intrinsic to the job, or the work carried out. Hygiene factors include aspects of the working environment such as pay, company policies, supervisory practices, and other working conditions.

While Hertzberg's model has stimulated much research, researchers have been unable to reliably empirically prove the model, with Hackman & Oldham suggesting that Hertzberg's original formulation of the model may have been a methodological artifact. Furthermore, the theory does not consider individual differences, conversely predicting all employees will react in an identical manner to changes in motivating/hygiene factors. . Finally, the model has been criticised in that it does not specify how motivating/hygiene factors are to be measured.

Job Characteristics Model

Hackman & Oldham proposed the Job Characteristics Model, which is widely used as a framework to study how particular job characteristics impact on job outcomes, including job satisfaction. The model states that there are five core job characteristics (skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback) which impact three critical psychological states (experienced meaningfulness, experienced responsibility for outcomes, and knowledge of the actual results), in turn influencing work outcomes (job satisfaction, absenteeism, work motivation, etc.) [Hackman, J. R., & Oldham, G. R. (1976). Motivation through the design of work: Test of a theory. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 16, 250-279.] . The five core job characteristics can be combined to form a motivating potential score (MPS) for a job, which can be used as an index of how likely a job is to affect an employee's attitudes and behaviors----. A meta-analysis of studies that assess the framework of the model provides some support for the validity of the JCM [Fried, Y., & Ferris, G. R. (1987). The validity of the Job Characteristics Model: A review and meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology, 40(2), 287-322.] .

Measuring job satisfaction

There are many methods for measuring job satisfaction. By far, the most common method for collecting data regarding job satisfaction is the Likert scale (named after Rensis Likert). Other less common methods of for gauging job satisfaction include: Yes/No questions, True/False questions, point systems, checklists, and forced choice answers. This data is typically collected using an Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) system.

The Job Descriptive Index (JDI), created by Smith, Kendall, & Hulin (1969), is a specific questionnaire of job satisfaction that has been widely used. It measures one’s satisfaction in five facets: pay, promotions and promotion opportunities, coworkers, supervision, and the work itself. The scale is simple, participants answer either yes, no, or can’t decide (indicated by ‘?’) in response to whether given statements accurately describe one’s job.

The Job in General Index is an overall measurement of job satisfaction. It is an improvement to the Job Descriptive Index because the JDI focuses too much on individual facets and not enough on work satisfaction in general.

Other job satisfaction questionnaires include: the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire (MSQ), the Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS), and the Faces Scale. The MSQ measures job satisfaction in 20 facets and has a long form with 100 questions (five items from each facet) and a short form with 20 questions (one item from each facet). The JSS is a 36 item questionnaire that measures nine facets of job satisfaction. Finally, the Faces Scale of job satisfaction, one of the first scales used widely, measured overall job satisfaction with just one item which participants respond to by choosing a face.

Relationships and practical implications

Job Satisfaction can be an important indicator of how employees feel about their jobs and a predictor of work behaviours such as organizational citizenship [Organ, D. W., & Ryan, K. (1995). A meta-analytic review of attitudinal and dispositional predictors of organizational citizenship behavior. Personnel Psychology, 48, 775-802] , absenteeism [Wegge, J., Schmidt, K., Parkes, C., & van Dick, K. (2007). ‘Taking a sickie’: Job satisfaction and job involvement as interactive predictors of absenteeism in a public organization. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 80, 77-89] , and turnover [Saari, L. M., & Judge, T. A. (2004). Employee attitudes and job satisfaction. Human Resource Management, 43, 395-407] . Further, job satisfaction can partially mediate the relationship of personality variables and deviant work behaviors [Mount, M., Ilies, R., & Johnson, E. (2006). Relationship of personality traits and counterproductive work behaviors: The mediating effects of job satisfaction. Personnel Psychology, 59, 591-622.] .

One common research finding is that job satisfaction is correlated with life satisfaction [Rain, J.S., Lane, I.M. & Steiner, D.D. (1991) A current look at the job satisfaction/life satisfaction relationship: Review and future considerations. Human Relations, 44, 287–307.] . This correlation is reciprocal, meaning people who are satisfied with life tend to be satisfied with their job and people who are satisfied with their job tend to be satisfied with life. However, some research has found that job satisfaction is not significantly related to life satisfaction when other variables such as nonwork satisfaction and core self-evaluations are taken into account [Rode, J. C. (2004). Job satisfaction and life satisfaction revisited: A longitudinal test of an integrated model. Human Relations, Vol 57(9), 1205-1230.] .

An important finding for organizations to note is that job satisfaction has a rather tenuous correlation to productivity on the job. This is a vital piece of information to researchers and businesses, as the idea that satisfaction and job performance are directly related to one another is often cited in the media and in some non-academic management literature. A recent meta-analysis found an average uncorrected correlation between job satisfaction and productivity to be r=.18; the average true correlation, corrected for research artifacts and unreliability, was r=.30 [Judge, T. A., Thoresen, C. J., Bono, J. E., & Patton, G. K. (2001). The job satisfaction-job performance relationship: A qualitative and quantitative review. Psychological Bulletin, 127(3), 376-407.] . Further, the meta-analysis found that the relationship between satisfaction and performance can be moderated by job complexity, such that for high-complexity jobs the correlation between satisfaction and performance is higher (ρ=.52) than for jobs of low to moderate complexity (ρ=.29). In short, the relationship of satisfaction to productivity is not necessarily straightforward and can be influenced by a number of other work-related constructs, and the notion that "a happy worker is a productive worker" should not be the foundation of organizational decision-making.

With regard to job performance, employee personality may be more important than job satisfaction. [Wright State University. [http://www.wright.edu/cgi-bin/cm/news.cgi?action=news_item&id=1366 "Personality more important than job satisfaction in determining job performance success, WSU psychologist says."] Press release. Published May 2, 2007. Last accessed May 26, 2007.] The link between job satisfaction and performance is thought to be a spurious relationship; instead, both satisfaction and performance are the result of personality.


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