Motivation and emotion/Book/2018/Job satisfaction

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Job satisfaction:
What are the main ingredients for job satisfaction?

Overview[edit | edit source]

People are being told to find their passion in life and in doing so they will love their work and it will never feel like a job. However, this is not always possible. For some, their passion is not financial stable and the majority of people work in order to make a living [SOURCE]. Subsequently people may find their job unsatisfying. Job satisfaction is a concept that has been widely explored by various scholar, with research findings being published [SOURCE]. However, the concept of job satisfaction cannot have a definitive definition because it can mean different things to different people, meaning that job satisfaction is an individual notion for each employee.

There are many different aspects of a job as well as many different jobs available and certain aspects to a job may be more important and desirable to an individual. Job satisfaction is considered one of the main factors in a organisation’s efficiency, effectiveness and performance. Studies have indicated that people with high positive feelings about their job (job satisfaction), usually correspond with high levels of job involvement, performance and commitment. These factors are crucial to the succession of the business.

Definitions[edit | edit source]

The most basic and agreed upon definition was constructed by Spector (1997) who states that "job satisfaction is the extent to which a person likes or dislikes their job". However, more recently, job satisfaction has been said to be identified as more of a journey than it is a destination. The journey of increasing or decreasing job satisfaction applies to the employees and the employer. According to Wengrzyn (n.d) there is no definitive way to measure job satisfaction or to ensure it. The only thing we can know for sure is that some people love their job, others despise it and everyone else falls somewhere in the middle on this scale.

Other useful definitions that have been published:

  • Hoppock (1935) defines job satisfaction as “any combination of psychological, physiological and environmental circumstances that cause a person truthfully to say I am satisfied with my job”
  • Job satisfaction represents a combination of positive or negative feelings that workers have towards their work. It is closely related to the individual’s behaviour in the work place. (Davis et al., 1985)
  • Job satisfaction is the key ingredient that leads to recognition, income, promotion, and the achievement of other goals that lead to a feeling of fulfilment (Kaliski, 2007)
  • Job satisfaction refers to the attitudes and feelings individuals have about their work. Positive attitudes indicate a higher job satisfaction (Armstrong, 2006).
  • A collection of feelings and beliefs that people have about their current job. The levels of degrees of job satisfaction can range from extreme satisfaction to extreme dissatisfaction[deleted multiple words]. In addition to having attitudes about their jobs as a whole, people can have attitudes regarding the kind of work that they do, their co-workers, supervisors or subordinates and their pay (George et al, 2008).
  • It can mean different things to different people. Although satisfaction is linked with motivation, satisfaction is not the same as motivation[fixed sentence]. Job satisfaction is more so the internal state – the attitude. It could be associated with a personal feeling of achievement either quantitative or qualitative (Mullins, 2005)

What causes job satisfaction?[edit | edit source]

Morgan (2014) expressed that employee engagement and happiness is crucial for the future of modern management in the workplace. Morgan (2014) demonstrated how previous studies indicated that employment engagement level was at an all-time low of only 13%. This low percentage of engagement showed correlations with a decrease in productivity, wasted resources and toxic work environments. Various factors exist in determining a person’s job satisfaction. According to the Tinypulse Survey (2013) who investigated over 300 global organisation’s and over 40,000 anonymous surveys found that transparency was the number 1 factor for contributing to employee happiness, only 42% of employees were aware of their company’s vision and that 1 in 5 respondents included a suggestion for improvement in their survey. One of the most insightful findings from this study was that employee happiness is more dependent on co-worker relationships (.92) than the relationship with a manager (.74).  

The SAP Survey (2014) discovered that compensation is what mattered most to[added word] employees, which also[deleted word] provides further evidence for the Society for Human Resource Management  survey (2013). This also concluded that compensation and pay were the number one contributors to job satisfaction[Rewrite to improve clarity]. Other studies have suggested that receiving appreciation for their work is a significant contributor for employee happiness at work The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) provided further evidence for this claim. BCG (2014) conducted an extensive study on the global workforce “everything from what people in different parts of the world expect of their jobs to that would prompt their move to another country for work to the countries they would consider moving to” (Strack, Linden, Booker & Strohmayr; 2014). Over 200,000 surveys from 189 countries were collected and found that 59% of participants were actively looking for a new employment, 37% were not actively looking, but they were open to an opportunity and the remaining 4% were not looking for new employment (Strack Et. Al., 2014). From their findings, they were able to conclude that in order to feel satisfied one has to feel appreciated. This was the number one factor found that was correlated with job satisfaction. Strack Et. Al. (2014) also listed the following 9 crucial factors found to have an association with job satisfaction. These were:

  1. Good relationships with colleagues
  2. Good work-life balance
  3. Good relationships with superiors
  4. Company's financial stability
  5. Learning and career development
  6. Job security
  7. Fixed salary
  8. Interesting job content
  9. Company values

Cheng, han, Levanon & Ray (2015) found a slight increase in job satisfaction from the previous year. Findings from this study indicated a 0.6% increase in job satisfaction with 48.3% of US workers being satisfied with their jobs. This was due to an increase of in job security and more opportunities for career development with signs of increasing wages. These studies provide evidence to support different facets equal in job satisfaction. Once each facet has been satisfied (salary, security, compensation etc.) a person’s overall job satisfaction will increase.

Robins Judge Millet & Boye (2017) pose a question to readers to think about the best job they have had and what it was about that job that made them like it. Robins Et Al., (2017) assumed that readers enjoyed the work that they did and they also enjoyed working with the people around them. They explained that there is a strong correlation between how people enjoy work and how they enjoy the social environment will impact their overall satisfaction. Even social support, feedback and interactions outside of work all impact a person's job satisfaction.

Job Satisfaction Levels by Facet table reconstructed from Robins Judge Millet & Boye (2017) P. 65
Work Itself Pay Promotion Supervision Colleagues Overall
75% 57% 22% 65% 69% 78%

This model indicates the rates of employee's being satisfied with their jobs based on the individual facet of work. Robins Et Al. ( 2017) noted that once a person reaches a certain level of payment that can afford them the life they wish to live, the relationship between satisfaction and pay virtually disappears. "People who earn $100,000 are, on average, no happier than those who earn close to $50,000" (Robins et al., 2017).

Why stay in a job that you hate?[edit | edit source]

Robins et. al. (2017) list four responses a person may have when they are dissatisfied with their job and are undergoing the decision as to whether or not they wish to stay. These responses are:

  1. Exit response (destructive and active): This is direct behaviour towards leaving. A person is actively seeking new employment and has begun their plan to resign
  2. Voice response (constructive and active): The person may want to speak out and constructively attempt to help improve and discuss the problems they are having at work with managers. They may suggest improvements and union input.
  3. Loyalty response (constructive and passive): This response indicates that a person is sticking around an organisation because they are loyal to the organisation. They may have been promised promotions in the future. These employees usually work passively but optimistically hoping conditions will improve and trust that management will take care of things if needed.
  4. Neglect (destructive and passive): The person has given up and sticking around because the job 'pays the bills'. This response will see the employee increase error, lateness or sick days and allows the conditions to worsen.

Theories and models of job satisfaction[edit | edit source]

Theories surrounding job satisfaction relate to the underlying motivation behind why people work and what motivates them at work. The Models are intended to identify needs, incentives, goals, and their prioritisation by the individual to obtain satisfaction (Luthans, 2005. P 240). Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs comes into play first and foremost regarding job satisfaction as it has been identified as “the most widely mentioned theory of motivation and satisfaction (Weihrich & Koontz, 1999: 468). The theory focuses of humanistic psychology and states 5 needs an individual must achieve. The needs are arranged in a fixed order and only when a need is complete can a person advance to the next need (Maslow, 1943). These needs in order are:

1.    Physical needs

2.    Safety needs

3.    Social needs

4.    Esteem/achievement needs

5.    Self-actualization

Karimi (2007) believe that individual need satisfaction is attached to various needs listed in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and that different aspects of their life (such as their workplace) fulfil these needs. Khan, Khan, Nawaz and Qureshi (2010) argue that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is the first motivation theory the provide a foundation for future job satisfaction theories.

Valence Model[edit | edit source]

The term ‘valence' refers to “anticipated satisfaction associated with an outcome” (Mitchell, 1974. P. 1053). According to Graen (1969) in regard to job satisfaction, the model attempts to describe work attraction role. Vroom (1964) constructed the original valence model and his theoretical formulations applied to many areas of organisational behaviour. He demonstrated that people will be motivated to achieve a goal if they can see a probability that what they do will further themselves (Khan et. Al., 2010).  a “a valance of an outcome for a person is defined conceptually as the strength of his positive or negative affective orientation toward it” (Mitchell. 1974. P. 1053). The model can be broken down into three sections, valance (how much does one want something), the probability expectancy of a successful outcome and that one will receive a reward after success has been achieved. These three factors added together subsequently equal motivation. The model has been used to predict valances for any outcome and has been used in the prediction for job satisfaction. Graen (1969) and Reitz (1971) conducted studies on job satisfaction using the valence model. These studies were straightforward and had positive correlations with overall job satisfaction. Mitchell (1974) points out the pattern of the valence model in that past research all has strong significant findings and found that research that reflects the original Vroom model the better the outcome.

Affect theory[edit | edit source]

Locke's (1976) affect theory is one of the most famous models regarding job satisfaction. This theory demonstrates that job satisfaction is determined by what one wants and what one has. The theory also describes that satisfaction is influenced by a person's values of a given facet of work, in particular when expectations are met or not met (Mustafa, 2014). Usually a person who has a positive experience within their workplace in regards to a valued job facet will also have positive job satisfaction. The same theory applies if they a negative experience in the same situation, resulting in negative job satisfaction (Mustafa, 2014). The following example helps illustrate this model: Prezi Presentation on Affect Theory.

"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." (Mustafa, 2014, p 142)

Dispositional theory[edit | edit source]

The dispositional theory suggests people have instinctive dispositions that causes them to have a certain level of satisfaction regardless of the job. This theory backs the findings of identical twins having similar job satisfaction levels due to their identical innate dispositions and that job satisfaction tends to stabilize over time for a person in their career (Mustafa, 2014). Judge (1998) proposed the Core Self-Evaluations Model which states that the four core self-evaluations (self-esteem, self- efficacy, locus of control and neuroticism) determines one's temperament regarding job satisfaction. Higher self-esteem and self-efficacy lead to high job satisfaction. Having internal locus of control (believing one has control over their life) and having low levels of neuroticism all lead to high job satisfaction (Mustafa, 2014).

Two-factor theory[edit | edit source]

Otherwise known as the motivator hygiene theory, explains the satisfaction and motivation within the workplace. Proposed by Fredeirck Herzberg, the theory proposes that satisfaction and dissatisfaction are caused by a person's own motivation. This is considering that one's motivation is the force that drives them to succeed and attain goals (Hoskinson, Porter & Wrench). Factors from the organisation such as rewards, promotions and acknowledgement also further a person's motivation. This is also known as intrinsic motivators. Various amounts of research have followed Herzberg’s theory; however, it has been found to not be a reliable source.  Scholars such as Hackman & Oldham found that the original formulation of the model was a methodological artefact and was unable to provide evidence on studies due to the fact that the model predicts all employees will react the same when intrinsic motivators are provided and not considering the individual differences people have. Link to further information & Model

Job characteristics model[edit | edit source]

According to Hackman & Oldham skill variety, identity, task significance, autonomy and feedback are the five core features of job characteristics. These factors then impact three psychological states being experience meaningfulness, experienced responsibility for outcomes and knowledge of the results. These then influence work outcomes being job satisfaction and work motivation. Hackman & Oldham proposed that when you combine all five factors of job characteristics a person receives a Motivating Potential Score (MPS). This is then used to identify the likelihood of a job affecting a person’s attitude and behaviour. Link to Job Characteristics Model

Measuring job satisfaction[edit | edit source]

There are various methods that have been used in regards to measuring a persons extent to which they are satisfied with their job. Some of the most known and frequently used are:

Single global rating scale[edit | edit source]

The single global rating scale, in it's simplest term, is posing a single one question regarding a topic and getting the participant to answer on a 1 to 5 rating scale. For example, in regards to job satisfaction a question may be "How satisfied are you with your job overall?". The rating scale would be listed in nominal order from very dissatisfied to very satisfied. This method of collecting data can be very effective because the experimenter is able to ask the overall hypothesis without any other variables coming into play. However, this can also be a major implication for studies because there are numerous amounts of variables that are dependent on job satisfaction. Scholars who have investigated job satisfaction in the past have categorised different areas of job satisfaction into job facets (McLeod, 2008). Facets or categories could be identified as any area in the workplace an individual would have an opinion as to whether or not they were satisfied (relationships, opportunities, pay, culture etc.). An employee may be satisfied in some areas of work and not other areas. The Single Global Rating Scale is a measurement that requires participants to answer in an overall aspect, which provides the basis and foundation for other methods to be used following on from this. This can include the Likert Scale which is used in the individual facets of job satisfaction to gain an understanding of someones overall satisfaction of each area of job.

Likert scale[edit | edit source]

The likert scale is a method that has been developed to measure a particular attitude. it is the most used method for conducting research when measuring a person’s job satisfaction (Mustafa, 2014). "Likert (1932) developed the principle of measuring attitudes by asking people to respond to a series of statements about a topic, in terms of the extent to which they agree with them, and so tapping into the cognitive and affective components of attitudes." (McLeod, 2008). The Likert Scale is another form of measurement that has a 5 or 7 point scale which can provide demographic statistics such as the mode and range on a topic. The scale asks people a question and requires an answer on a scale starting from low to high point. Examples include, frequency, agreement, likelihood etc. The advantage of this scale is that it is not a simple yes or no answer instead asks for the degree of an opinion. a disadvantage is the possibility of social desirability.

Job descriptive index[edit | edit source]

The job descriptive index (JDI) is a questionnaire originally conducted by Smith, Kendall & Hullin (1969) with the purpose to measure job satisfaction in five facets. Pay, promotions, promotion opportunities, co-workers, supervision and the work. Statements are given to reflect a person's work life and participants are required to answer wither yes or no (Mustafa, 2014).

Job in general index[edit | edit source]

The job in general index is similar to the JDI except it is an overall measurement of job satisfaction. The JDI focuses on the facets and has been noted to not focus enough on work satisfaction in general (Mustafa, 2014).

Studies on job satisfaction[edit | edit source]

Wang, Tang, Sun, Anderson & Yao (2017) conducted a study that investigated job satisfaction for clinicians working in rural areas in China. Twenty eight questions which were described as being significantly different were produced delivered to 379 participants. The purpose of the questionnaire was to further investigate into 6 different domains including leadership and management, training and promotion, interpersonal relationships, working environment, compensation and job functions. A limitation was found in this study due to a bias being found in the self-report data. Although self-report data may be crucial for studies of job satisfaction it does come with the risk of biases in the data. This is an important factor to understand when conducting and investigating research on the topic.

Job satisfaction and teamwork[edit | edit source]

Gander, Ruch, Platt, Hofmann & Elmer (2018) stated that teamwork works best when the team is designed to fosters individuals’ strengths which will maximise potential positive outcomes for the organisation and the employee. Contributions from each member should fit together with others complementing each other’s strengths which can subsequently cause an increase in a person's job satisfaction. Wilson, Dejoy, Vandenberg, Richardson & McGrath (2004) found that strengthening job design (such as putting teams together for effective purposes) this then increases positive attributes such as job satisfaction. Gander et al. (2018) provided a current inquiry into the link between job satisfaction and teamwork. The hypothesis stated that a convergence between the ideal and current team roles would show a correlation with high job satisfaction. Over 300 participants were required to use a self-report instrument to assess themselves in a group setting at work which focused on the 24-character strengths for the Values-in-Action (VIA). Teamwork is one of those items.  They also used the Job Satisfaction Questionnaire which was originally constructed and conducted by Andrews & Withley (1976) life satisfaction questionnaire. This is a 5 item self-reported questionnaire which assesses a person’s satisfaction in the different aspects of their job. Results from this study indicated that all areas of a job with the exception of the role of Relationship Manager were positively related to job satisfaction and that those roles were negatively related to perceiving work as a job (Gander et al., 2018). Conclusions were made that ideal team roles are important for job satisfaction and that further research should focus on the factor of the relationships between co-workers and managers

Job satisfaction and employment turnover[edit | edit source]

Job satisfaction can be considered one of the most vital elements in order for an organisation to be efficient and effective. It has also been consistent in relation to employee turnover. Job satisfaction has been a crucial predictor in employee turnover and has also been able to predict how long it takes for a person to leave or stay in an organisation (Mobley, 1997). Smits (1972) investigated the impact of job satisfaction on counsellors in rehabilitation centres. The study found that job satisfaction had a major impact on an individual's decision to resign from their job. Smits (1972) found that participants who scored high rates of dissatisfaction in the medium range of job agencies were significantly unhappy with their professional relationships with co-workers as well as had a lack of interest and no emotional ties to the company. Participants from these medium sized agencies expressed that they felt exhausted with the mental and physical requirements for the job. Participants from larger agencies we documented to have a common theme of dissatisfaction with security enhancement, finances, and their physical surroundings. Smits (1972) provided guidance into how to better enhance job satisfaction in this workplace. He suggested that one of the first things that needed to happen was to improve the relationship with the supervisor and the employee[Provide more detail]. Results indicated that a common theme for participants in all categories of small, medium and large agencies {{missing} did not feel satisfied with their personal relationships at work. This finding was consistent with previous research conducted by Ronan (1970) who concluded that job satisfaction is linked with personal behaviours which in turn can cause employee turnover. Read Ronan (1970) here

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

There are many complex components surrounding job satisfaction and what it means. At the end of the day, Job satisfaction is different to everyone depending on what they hold important to their self and their fulfilment. Scholars have investigated this topic for 100 years and will continue to produce more theories and models behind the phenomenon. When constructing this book chapter, it was evident that the theories and models can make one question their current employment and ask themselves ‘am I satisfied with my workplace?’. Therefore, by using the Single Global Rating Scale, are you satisfied with your job?

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Andrews, F. M., & Withey, S. B. (1976). Social indicators of well-being America’s perception of life quality.New York: Plenum Press.

Armstrong, M. (2006). A Handbook of Human resource Management Practice, Tenth Edition, Kogan Page Publishing, London, , p. 264

Aziri, B. (2011). Job Satisfaction: A Literature Review. Management & Research Practice Vol-3 Issue 4 pp. 77-86

Cheng, B., Kan, M., Levanon, G. & Ray, R. (2015) Job Satisfaction: 2015 Edition: A lot More Jobs – A little more satisfaction

Davis, K. and Nestrom, J.W. (1985). Human Behavior at work: Organizational Behavior, 7 edition,McGraw Hill, New York, p.109

Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The Satisfaction with Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71-75. Graen, G. Instrumentality. theory of work motivation: Some experimental results and suggested modifications. Journal of Applied Psychology Monograph, 1969, 53, 1-25

Gander, F., Ruch, W., Platt, T., Hofmann, J., & Elmer, T. (2018). Current and ideal team roles: Relationships to job satisfaction and calling. Translational Issues in Psychological Science, 4(3), 277–289. (SupplementalMitchell, T. R. (1974). Expectancy models of job satisfaction, occupational preference and effort: A theoretical, methodological, and empirical appraisal. Psychological Bulletin, 81(12), 1053-1077.

George, J.M. and Jones, G.R. (2008). Understanding and Managing Organizational behavior, Fifth Edition,Pearson/Prentice Hall, New Yersey, p. 78

Herzberg, H. F. (1976). Motivation-Hygiene Profiles, p. 20

Hoppock, R. (1935). Job Satisfaction, Harper and Brothers, New York, p. 47

Kaliski, B.S. (2007). Encyclopedia of Business and Finance, Second edition, Thompson Gale, Detroit, p. 446

Karimi, S (2007). Factors Affecting Job Satisfaction of Faculty Members of BuAli Sina University, Hamedan, Iran. Department of Agricultural extension and Education,  College  of  Agriculture.  Hamedan,  Iran.

Khan, A. Khan, S. Nawaz, A & Qureshi, Q (2010) Theories of Job-SatisfactionL Global Applications & Limitations. Gomas University Journal of Research, 26(2), 45-62.

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Smits, S. J. (1972). Counselor job satisfaction and employment turnover in state rehabilitation agencies: A follow-up study. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 19(6), 512–517., P. C., Kendall, L., & Hulin, C. L. (1969). The measurement of satisfaction in work and retirement. Chicago, IL: Rand McNally.

Spector, P. (1997). Job satisfaction: Application, assessment, causes and consequences. Thousand Oaks,CA: SageVroom, V. H., & Deci, E. L. The stability of post- decision dissonance: A follow-up study of the job attitudes of business school graduates. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance,1971,

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Wang, G., Tang, M., Sun, Y., Anderson, R. T., & Yao, A. (2017). A Job Satisfaction Questionnaire for Rural Clinicians in China. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 48(6), 405–411. (Supplemental)Wilson, M. G., Dejoy, D. M., Vandenberg, R. J., Richardson, H. A., & McGrath, A. L. (2004). Work characteristics and employee health and well-being: Test of a model of healthy work organization. Journal of Occupational and Organization

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External links[edit | edit source]