Factors Leading to Job Satisfaction

Executive Summary

Sustaining high levels of job satisfaction is a significant challenge for many organisations. However, a high level of job satisfaction is desirable for many managers because it positively influences organisational productivity. Researchers hold differing opinions regarding the factors that lead to job satisfaction and their influences on organisational productivity. Using the coding technique, this study examines the theories, models, and findings of key theorists (in this area of study) to establish the factors that lead to job satisfaction. Structurally, this paper adopts a three-pronged approach of doing so. It broadly categorises the factors that affect job satisfaction into internal organisational factors, external organisational factors, and employee-specific factors.

Overall, this paper shows that unemployment levels and industry wages/salaries are the main external organisational factors that affect job satisfaction. Similarly, this study shows that the opportunities for career advancement and the quality of employer-employee relationships are the main internal organisational factors that affect job satisfaction. Lastly, the findings of this paper show that age and employee expectations outline significant employee-specific factors that lead to job satisfaction. Overall, employee-specific factors emerge as moderating factors in understanding the relationship between the internal and external organisational factors that affect job satisfaction.

Introduction

Many researchers say job satisfaction significantly influences organisational and employee performances.1 Although many scientific research papers have used job satisfaction to explain employee performance, they have failed to identify a single definition of the term. Aziri, a scholar at the Southeast European University, says the ambiguity of the term stems from the lack of a common definition for jobs.2 Therefore, to understand the meaning of job satisfaction, first, it is crucial to understand the nature, meaning, and importance of jobs.

Hoppock (a researcher in human resource studies) 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.”3 This definition shows that although external and internal organisational factors affect job satisfaction, the concept defines how employees feel about their work. Vroom (another researcher in human resource studies) adopts a different definition of job satisfaction by saying it defines “affective orientations on the part of individuals to work roles, which they are presently occupying.”4 The most commonly used definition of job satisfaction stems from Spector’s view, which defines job satisfaction as employee feelings about their jobs.5 This definition largely explains the extent that most employees feel contented, or discontented, with their jobs. It also explains why employees may be satisfied, or dissatisfied, with a job.

From the above definitions of job satisfaction, clearly, the concept encompasses both negative and positive feelings about work. When workers confer meaning, desires, and needs to their job experiences, job satisfaction links their expectations to rewards. This way, the concept influences employee behaviours in the organisation. Through this analogy, job satisfaction represents an employee’s sense of achievement and success in an organisation. Thus, it has a direct link with organisational productivity and employee well-being.

Problem Statement

Job satisfaction is a product of employee attitudes. However, understanding human attitudes is a difficult task because different issues affect personal attitudes. The multiplicity and differing perspectives of theories and models that explain job satisfaction affirm the difficulty in understanding the concept. Moreover, different aspects of organisational performance and workplace conditions may affect job satisfaction. Indeed, since Elton Mayo (through the Hawthorne studies) discovered that employee perceptions affected organisational productivity, many researchers have explored different influences of job satisfaction. For example, in the early 1980s, researchers had written more than 4,000 articles concerning an aspect of job satisfaction.6 The high volumes of research papers investigating this issue show that it is a popular research topic. However, few studies have incorporated the influence of modern organisational changes on understanding factors that lead to job satisfaction. Furthermore, many studies use “narrow” analytical scopes to investigate the factors that influence job satisfaction (such as using external organisational influences only, or internal organisational influences only). To cover these research gaps, this paper adopts a broader and a modern analytical view to explore the research topic.

Research Aim

  • To identify the factors that lead to job satisfaction

Objectives

  • To find out the external organisational factors that influence job satisfaction
  • To find out the internal organisational factors that influence job satisfaction
  • To establish the employee-specific factors that lead to job satisfaction

Research Questions

  • What external organisational factors influence job satisfaction?
  • What internal organisational factors influence job satisfaction?
  • Which employee-specific factors lead to job satisfaction?

Significance of the research

The significance of undertaking this study stems from the influence of job satisfaction on organisational productivity.7 For example, Waskiewicz says the influences of job satisfaction on employee burnout, “absenteeism, apathy, and turnover”8 affect organisational productivity (albeit indirectly). Broadly, the above assertion shows that employee well-being is a function of job satisfaction. From this background, three researchers, Smith, Kendall & Hulin say there is a humanitarian value in understanding the factors that influence job satisfaction.9 They also suggest that despite the unclear relationship between job satisfaction and organisational performance, managers should consider job satisfaction as an organisational goal.10 Overall, from a pragmatic view, perceiving the concept as a goal would include understanding the relationship between job satisfaction and organisational performance. Alternatively, from a humanistic view, perceiving job satisfaction as a goal would include understanding the factors that lead to job satisfaction (to support internal and external organisational influences that lead to improved employee happiness, thereby diminishing the factors that may lead to job dissatisfaction).

The above analogy shows that understanding the factors that lead to job satisfaction helps in improving organisational performance. Similarly, since this study adopts a multifaceted perspective of understanding the factors that lead to job satisfaction, the findings of this study would help managers to improve employee welfare (from a holistic perspective of improving organisation-specific and employee-specific issues that improve job satisfaction). The structure of this study appears below

Literature Review

Many researchers have explored different factors that lead to job satisfaction. Through their studies, they have formulated different theories and models that explain the concept. This section of the report explores key findings from mainstream theorists that explore the factors that lead to job satisfaction. The main issues explored here include the influence of organisation-specific factors (such as employer-employee relationships, reward/compensation, and career advancement opportunities) and employee-specific factors (such as age and employee perceptions of their work) on job satisfaction. Key models and theories that explain the influences of these attributes on job satisfaction (such as the equity and motivator hygiene theories) provide the framework for this analysing. Nonetheless, before embarking on these analyses, it is important to understand the relationship between job satisfaction and organisational performance.

Link between Job Satisfaction and Organisational Performance

Many researchers claim a direct correlation between job satisfaction and organisational productivity. However, the evidence supporting this correlation is inconclusive.11 For example, three researchers, Smith, Kendall, & Hulin, failed to establish a direct correlation between job satisfaction and organisational performance.12 Instead, the researchers found that productivity had a greater influence on job satisfaction.13 Barbash (a scholar) uses this finding to suggest that most researchers are yet to understand the correlation between job satisfaction and performance-related behaviour.14 Nonetheless, the importance of job satisfaction to organisational performance stems from its negative influences on organisational productivity. For example, researchers have linked job dissatisfaction to absenteeism, lack of employee loyalty, and employee accidents (among other factors).15

Based on the above background, Spector (a researcher) says three important features should define job satisfaction. First, he says human values should guide organisational activities because employees expect managers to treat them with respect and fairness.16 This assessment should evaluate employee effectiveness in an organisation. Particularly, managers should pay attention to the link between job satisfaction and the mental health of employees because a high job satisfaction reflects a positive employee mental health. Spector also says the second feature of job satisfaction is employee behaviour, as a function of job satisfaction.17 This assessment stems from the direct correlation between job satisfaction and positive employee behaviours. Similarly, job dissatisfaction has a negative correlation with positive employee behaviour. Lastly, Spector says job satisfaction shows the efficacy of organisational activities because evaluating job satisfaction, through different operational levels, identifies the organisational processes that affect job satisfaction the most.18 From this background, three researchers, Christen, Iyer and Soberman developed the following job satisfaction model.

 Christen, Lyer, and Soberman Model of Job Satisfaction19
Figure One: Christen, Lyer, and Soberman Model of Job Satisfaction19

The above model shows that job performance and job factors have a positive effect on job satisfaction. However, problems with role performance have a negative effect on job performance. Comparatively, two theorists, Lawler and Porter, developed a different model of job satisfaction as shown below

Lawler’s and Porter’s Model of Job satisfaction20
Figure Two: Lawler’s and Porter’s Model of Job satisfaction20

Through the above model, Lawler and Porter emphasise the role of rewards on job satisfaction. However, they show that intrinsic and extrinsic rewards share an indirect correlation with job satisfaction.

Employee-Specific Factors

Employee-specific factors refer to personal factors that affect employee perceptions of job satisfaction. Many researchers have explored different factors that affect employee job satisfaction. However, many of them have focused on age as a common personal factor that affects job satisfaction. For example, Frederick Herzberg (through the two-factor theory) said age shares a curvilinear relationship with job satisfaction because when people start work, they often experience a high level of job satisfaction.21 However, their level of job satisfaction declines during the middle years of work and increases again later in life. The diagram below explains this curvilinear relationship.

 Curvilinear relationship between Age and job satisfaction22
Figure 3: Curvilinear relationship between Age and job satisfaction22

Herzberg supports the above relationship because many employees experience a high level of job satisfaction during their first years of work (because they come from formal education with high expectations of working). Therefore, they are usually excited when they get their first jobs. However, when they experience job rewards, for a while, their levels of job satisfaction decline. Later, their job satisfaction levels increase when the employees get used to lower levels of job rewards, thereby perceiving them as normal.

Hulin (a researcher) shares a different view from Herzberg because he suggests that job satisfaction and age share a linear relationship.23 The diagram below explains this relationship.

Linear relationship between job satisfaction and age24
Figure Four: Linear relationship between job satisfaction and age24

Recent studies have affirmed the above relationship, between age and job satisfaction. For example, a recent study, aimed at evaluating the job satisfaction levels among assistant principals in Ohio, showed that age and job satisfaction shared a linear relationship.25 Waskiewicz also affirms the same relationship after conducting a similar study on school psychologists.26 However, an older study that investigated the relationship between job satisfaction and age among secondary school principals in Detroit found that both variables did not share the same relationship.27 Analysts consider the limited geographical location of study as a factor that explains this finding. Waskiewicz also believes that the demographics of the sampled population (their professions) also accounts for these findings. Broadly, these findings show that, as employees grow older, they report higher levels of job satisfaction. Thus, age fluctuations affect job satisfaction.

Organisation-Specific Factors

Influences that are privy to an organisation outline the organisation-specific factors that affect job satisfaction. Although researchers have explored many such factors, compensation emerges as the most common organisation-specific factor that influences job satisfaction. For example, one Virginian study sought to explain the impact of compensation of drug abuse counsellors and showed that compensation had a minimal impact on job satisfaction.28 From the same study, Waskiewicz suggests that employee demographics have a significant role to play in explaining the above finding. For example, he says highly educated employees often have a low job satisfaction because they expect a high salary.29

Some researchers say there is no relationship between job satisfaction and compensation. For example, three researchers, Herzberg, Mausner, & Snyderman sampled a group of employees (recruited from different industries) and found that job satisfaction did not have a direct correlation with compensation.30 The researchers came up with these findings after including compensation, among other organisation-specific factors, as job satisfaction influences. Although the researchers did not establish a relationship between job satisfaction and compensation, they found that self-actualisation factors influenced job satisfaction, as well. The motivator hygiene theory leaves little room for managers to influence job satisfaction because it suggests using satisfactory compensation (alone) to influence job satisfaction. To affirm Herzberg’s findings, two other researchers, Sutter and Knoop also reported and indirect relationship between compensation and job satisfaction.31 This assessment shows that many researchers hold conflicting views regarding the influence of compensation on job satisfaction. However, the equity and expectancy theories (outlined below) provide a deeper insight into this issue

Equity Theory

The influence of compensation on job satisfaction stems from an employee’s perception of compensation fairness. Milkovich & Newman (social theorists) used two theories to explain how the equity theory explains job satisfaction. One theory proposes a comparison between employee inputs and outcomes (with other employees in the organisation) to determine if an organisation provides fair compensation.32 Salaries often emerge as the main comparative element. The second theory differs with this perspective because it suggests that the true measure of compensation emerges by comparing an employee’s compensation with another employee, from a different organisation.33 Here, the researchers suggest comparisons between relevant, or similar, organisations.34 The above analogy shows that compensation is relevant to job satisfaction (to the extent that the employees compare their compensation packages to others). Therefore, employees are likely to develop job dissatisfaction if they realise that other employees have better compensation packages (regardless of whether it is an internal or external comparison).

2.3.2 Expectancy Theory

Vroom (a human resource theorist) says compensation influences job satisfaction (through the expectancy theory). Through this theory, he suggests that the perception of compensation is more important than the amount of money the employees receive.35 His analysis stems from a moral system that guides employees’ feelings. For example, he says employees think that an injustice occurs when other employees receive better pay.36 Similarly, they consider it justified for employees to receive the same compensation. Therefore, Vroom says job satisfaction is a function of the employees’ perceptions of actual compensation.37

Comparatively, two researchers, Bruce and Blackburn hold a similar view to Vroom by saying pay equity is more significant to employees than the actual pay they receive for their work.38 Using the same framework, they consider relative pay as a better predictor of job satisfaction, compared to absolute pay. They say, “People at work have a clear idea of what they ought to be paid in comparison with others, based on their skills, experiences, and so forth.”39 Beyond the material gains associated with compensation, Waskiewicz says compensation has a stronger attachment to employees because it refers to employee accomplishment, recognition, and position in a company.40 Alongside this analysis is the importance of understanding the importance of fairness in this relationship because Waskiewicz believes employees would expect to receive better pay for working in difficult work environments, compared to employees who work in less strenuous work environments.41

Opportunity for Advancement

An employee’s perception of career advancement significantly affects his/her level of job satisfaction. Many researchers affirm this view. For example, Vroom says promotional opportunities have a significant effect on job satisfaction.42 This view explains job satisfaction as a function of the opportunities that the employees would receive from working for an organisation. Therefore, if employees understand that their jobs provide them with promotional opportunities, they would likely be more satisfied with their work, even if they do not get the opportunities. Three researchers, Schneider, Gunnarson, & Wheeler agree with this view. They say, “Employees that have few opportunities for advancement develop negative attitudes toward their work and their organisations.”43

Waskiewicz quotes the findings of a research that evaluated the level of job satisfaction among assistant principals and affirmed that the employees had a high level of job satisfaction because they perceived their position (assistant principal position) as a “stepping-stone” to higher career positions (principal position).44 While higher pay shares a relationship with career advancement opportunities, increased job satisfaction that occurs this way is an extrinsic factor. However, the promotional opportunity is an organisation-specific factor. Again, here, Vroom contends that the opportunity for growth is a stronger motivational factor than the additional pay increase an employee would get.

A different study to evaluate the level of job satisfaction among assistant school principals interviewed 400 elementary school assistant principals and found that they did not consider their positions (as assistant principals) as career positions.45 Instead, 50% of the respondents desired to be school principals. About 30% of the respondents also desired to change their career positions to be central office administrators.46 These studies affirmed the importance of promotional opportunities in increasing job satisfaction. Therefore, reasonably, it is correct to say opportunities for career advancement affect job satisfaction.

Relationship with Supervisors

Many researchers do not agree about the effect of employer-employee relationships on job satisfaction. For example, Herzberg, Mausner, and Snyderman criticise researchers who believe supervisor relationships have a significant impact on job satisfaction by saying such researchers exaggerate this relationship.47 However, Vroom disagrees with this view after finding sufficient evidence to believe that employer-employee relationships have a significant impact on job satisfaction.48 This view is consistent with the perception of two researchers, Bruce and Blackburn. They rank managerial relationships second among factors that affect job satisfaction.49 Furthermore, they say job satisfaction and organisational performance depend on the nature of employer-employee relationships. Using the chi-square test, the researchers highlighted frankness, consistency, ability to solve job-related problems, communication, educational opportunities, awareness of employee problems, and respect as managerial concerns that have a direct impact on job satisfaction.50

Comparatively, two theorists, Solly and Hohenshil, arrived at the same conclusion after investigating the effect of managerial behaviours on job satisfaction among a group of psychologists.51 For example, the theorists believed that the level of job satisfaction among lower level employees was a function of their relationship with their superiors.52 Here, the researchers affirmed a higher level of job satisfaction among employees who had a good relationship with their supervisors. Similarly, they affirmed a lower level of job satisfaction among employees who did not share a good relationship with their supervisors.53

Summary

This section of the paper explains the influence of personal and internal organisational factors on job satisfaction. However, many of the findings highlighted in this paper are inconclusive. Moreover, they show conflicting ideas regarding the influence of personal of organisation-specific factors on employee performance. Subsequent chapters of this report expand the scope of the analysis to include external organisational factors that affect job satisfaction. Their findings should provide more clarity regarding the factors that lead to job satisfaction.

Research Methodology

This section of the paper explains how we conducted the research. Details of this paper explain the research design, sampling techniques, data collection method, and the data analysis methods used in the study.

Research Design

This paper used the quantitative research design. Its ability to explore research issues in-depth was the main motivation for using it in the study. Furthermore, since the study evaluated employee attitudes, it would have been improper to use quantitative research because the research focuses on subjective experiences of employees. Therefore, the qualitative approach highlighted the richness of the research focus – employees’ opinions, perceptions, and attitudes. The main disadvantage encountered from the adoption of this approach was the difficulty in making assumptions beyond the focus of study. For example, the study could not make assumptions beyond the sampled respondents mentioned in the papers used in this study.

Data Collection Method

This paper has relied on secondary data to formulate the research findings. Secondary research involves the collection and use of information from a primary research. Mainly, the research relied on information from books, journals, and credible websites. The main motivation for using the secondary research was the relative ease of obtaining information. Furthermore, we obtained information at a relatively low cost. The main disadvantage experienced from the adoption of the secondary data collection method was the transfer of research limitations (from the primary research) to this paper. This limitation could have affected the quality of research. However, to overcome it, this paper had to evaluate (critically) the validity and reliability of the sources of information used in the paper.

Data Analysis

This paper used the coding technique as the main data analysis method. Four main steps outline how the data analysis process occurred.

Step One: The first step of the data analysis process started by contextualising the research sources. Here, we had to evaluate the publication history of the secondary research sources and evaluate how they appeal to the research objectives. Broadly, this step ascertained how the secondary research sources fit into the scope of the research topic.

Step Two: The coding process started in the second step of the data analysis process. The process involved allocating research attributes (numerical attributes) to information that have similar contents, or address the same research objectives. Mainly the coding process involved identifying similar themes from the secondary sources and assigning an analytic attribute. Thus, every theme identified in the research process had a special code of analysis.

Step Three: The third step of the data analysis process dug deeper into the thematic analysis (described in step three) by analysing the text structures of the coded themes. The purpose of this analysis was to investigate if any thematic analyses overlapped one another. Later, this process showed how every theme answered the research questions (guided the emerging arguments).

Step Four: The last step of the data analysis process involved examining the discursive statements that arose from the data analysis process. This stage analysed the validity and reliability of the sources of information used in the research paper (it mainly analysed discursive statements). This process provided the framework for the formulation of the study’s findings.

Analysis and Discussion

This chapter reports and discusses the findings of the study. Its structure follows the contents of the research objectives. Thus, it evaluates the employee-specific factors that affect job satisfaction and the external and internal organisational factors that affect employees’ perceptions of their work.

External Organisational Factors

To understand the effects of external organisational factors on job satisfaction, a study by Llorente & Mac´ıas analysed the influence of several macro-economic factors, such as level of economic growth, level of unemployment, and social benefits (in developed economies) on job satisfaction. This study focused on 23 developed countries (mainly European countries). It found that these countries reported minimal differences in their levels of job satisfaction.54 The graph below shows the presentation.

Job Satisfaction Levels among Developed Countries55
Figure Five: Job Satisfaction Levels among Developed Countries55

According to the diagram above, Denmark led other countries in reporting the highest level of job satisfaction (5.69 on a scale of 1-7). Hungary reported the lowest level of job satisfaction. However, according to the diagram above, the differences in job satisfaction levels did not deviate far from the mean. For example, Denmark was 9% above the mean and Hungary was only eight points below the mean. The lack of a significant difference between the highest and lowest job satisfaction is particularly striking because all the countries sampled in the study not only provided their employees with a high salary, but also good social benefits. It is even more interesting that transition economies, such as Russia and Bulgaria, did not report significantly different levels of job satisfaction from more developed economies, such as the UK.

In fact, Llorente & Mac´ıas say observers consider some of these countries to have poor working conditions.56 For example, the study showed that about 30% to 54% of Russian workers (surveyed in the study) did not receive their salaries on time. Sometimes, the arrears owed to the employees were due for more than three months. Similarly, the study affirmed significant reductions in actual salaries, for some sectors. For example, the manufacturing sector reported a 60% reduction in actual salaries.57 Despite the negative attributes of the working environment in such countries, they do not translate to significant disparities in job satisfaction, compared to countries that have a positive working environment.

Based on the striking similarities between job satisfaction levels in transition economies and established economies, the only possible argument would be that, despite the poor working conditions and relatively low salaries of employees working in transition economies, they are still satisfied with their jobs. Generally, based on the small differences among the job satisfaction levels of all the 23 countries sampled in this study, most employees in the sampled countries are relatively satisfied with their jobs.

Although the small differences in job satisfaction levels among the 23 countries detracts attention from understanding the factors that cause job satisfaction, Llorente & Mac´ıas also investigated the traditional factors that contributed to job satisfaction among the sampled countries. Their analysis helped to contrast, in detail, the underlying factors that could have explained the small differences in job satisfaction levels among the sampled countries. The traditional factors that contributed to job satisfaction included “unemployment rate, index of overwork, level of income, salary behaviour, increase in salary, and income distribution.”58 Interestingly, Llorente & Mac´ıas found out that these factors did not fully explain the small differences in job satisfaction levels among the countries sampled.

However, unemployment levels emerged to have an ambiguous relation to job satisfaction because it made employed people appreciate their jobs (more), regardless of the characteristics of their work. Therefore, employees who develop higher job satisfaction levels for this reason deem employment as a better position than being unemployed. Using the same framework of analysis, Llorente & Mac´ıas suggest that lower rates of unemployment make it easier for employees to negotiate for better working conditions/salaries.59 Similarly, economies that have a lower level of unemployment would make it easier for prospective employees to find jobs that suit their preferences. This way, unemployment shares an inverse relationship with job satisfaction

Employee-Specific Factors

The above analysis shows how differences in working conditions did not reflect differences in job satisfaction. From this finding, this study deduces that the differences in working conditions do not reflect differences in job satisfaction levels. However, in principle, it is correct to assume that the differences in working conditions would automatically explain differences in job satisfaction levels. Llorente & Mac´ıas say this reason (partly) explains why researchers use job satisfaction as a measure of job quality.60 Nonetheless, job satisfaction and job quality share a complex relationship. Particularly, personal factors (employee perceptions) influence job satisfaction. Indeed, two employees performing the same organisational tasks, in the same organisation, would report different job satisfaction levels.

Different employee expectations explain this difference.61 Thus, the quality of employment is not the only factor that affects job satisfaction. Employee expectations have a significant influence on job satisfaction, as the quality of employment does. Through this analysis, an independent researcher, Bright, suggests that the key to job satisfaction is merging organisational goals with employee goals.62 Social psychologists also affirm the same “fit” through their theories. For example, social psychologists, such as Locke and Lawler, affirm this fact.63 Based on the relationship between job satisfaction and organisational factors that affect job satisfaction, job quality would only affect job satisfaction if employee expectations were constant. Researchers have analysed the relationship between job satisfaction and job quality by contrasting it with the results obtained from questionnaires.64

Through this process, the researchers say it is difficult to measure employee expectations and job quality in one questionnaire.65 However, studies that have analysed the influences of job satisfaction show the possibility of making reasonable proxies between the two. Such studies have used extrinsic factors like wages, flexibility, and work schedules as proxies for measuring job satisfaction. Similarly, they have also used intrinsic factors (related to employees), such as age and education, as proxies of job satisfaction. Although such studies have used intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms to measure job satisfaction, the causal mechanisms that use social-demographic characteristics to measure job satisfaction are unclear.

Many social psychology research papers have established a relationship between job satisfaction and qualitative aspects of a job. They have used intrinsic variables, such as autonomy, stress, and usefulness of the work (to the employees) to explain this relationship.66 Such studies have affirmed a relationship between these factors and job satisfaction. However, based on the indices used to evaluate this relationship, some critics question the methodology for coming up with the above findings. For example, they say the qualitative characteristics of jobs (used in the study) stem from employee evaluations.67 Stated differently, employee perceptions of job satisfaction may affect these evaluations. To avoid this problem, it is pertinent to avoid using job variables that are subject to employee perceptions.

Theoretically, the above influences of employee-specific factors in job satisfaction explain Abraham Maslow’s employee needs, through this hierarchy of needs. He said employees usually have only five basic needs: “physiological, security, social, esteem, and self-actualization”68 needs. He arranged these needs in the following order

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs69
Figure Six: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs69

Based on the above model, Maslow suggested that company managers should motivate their employees by satisfying one need at a time (bottom-up). Nonetheless, the above model shows the differences between personal and organisational needs. On the left hand side of the diagram, shelter, financial stability, friendships, status, and creative successes define personal issues that influence employee job satisfaction. The right hand side of the diagram shows that salary, seniority, social activities, incentives, and challenging work environments define work-related issues that affect job satisfaction. These organisational and personal issues fall within Maslow’s spectrum of human needs. For example, physiological needs encompass shelter and salary issues; safety needs encompass salary and seniority issues; social needs encompass social activities and friendships; esteem needs encompass status and incentives; and self-actualization needs encompass creative success and a challenging job environment. This analysis affirms the importance of compensation factors in influencing employee job satisfaction (particularly, according to Maslow’s physiological and safety needs).

Maslow’s views closely appeal to the views of Douglas McGregor (a social theorist). He identified two theories (theory X and theory Y) that underlie management assumptions about employee behaviour. Theory X views employees as lazy people who dislike work.70 Therefore, if left alone, they would not complete their organisational tasks. Here, McGregor proposes that company managers should coerce, threaten, and intimidate their employees to perform well.71 This view contradicts researchers who propose the view that most workers are motivated by non-material factors (to improve their productivity). Instead, it suggests that most employees would express little ambition beyond getting a salary (their levels of job satisfaction is limited in this regard). Broadly, most observers assume that theory X supports the use of a “carrot-and-stick” approach to improve employee productivity.72

Theory Y assumes that most managers could easily integrate employee and organisational goals for maximum productivity.73 Managers that support this view believe that most employees are cooperative and possess positive attitudes regarding their work environments and job responsibilities.74 Through this view, McGregor suggests that, within this framework, managers could improve organisational performance by gaining employee commitment. Allowing self-direction and self-discovery are some strategies that complement this goal.

Based on the findings gathered in this paper, researchers have analysed factors that affect job satisfaction from two points of view. The first point of view defines external factors (impersonal factors) that affect job satisfaction. They involve a “top-down” approach of investigating employee motivational factors. Mainly this approach aims to answer the question – “How should I motivate my workers to perform well?” and focuses on job design factors that affect job satisfaction. Similarly, this view also stems from the premise that most employees are lazy and easily motivated by material benefits, such as rewards and bonuses. The second view is a “bottom-up” approach of understanding factors that influence job satisfaction. Their analyses show that, job satisfaction is subject to different organisation-specific and person-specific factors.

CHAPTER SIX

Conclusion and Recommendations

This paper sought to evaluate the factors that lead to job satisfaction. Using a three-pronged approach, employee-specific organisational factors, external organisational factors, and internal factors affected job satisfaction, in different ways. Unemployment and industry salaries/wages outline the main external organisational factors that affected job satisfaction. Employee-employer relationships and opportunities for career advancement outline the main internal organisational factors that affected job satisfaction. Although this study sought to explore the influence of these internal and external factors on job satisfaction, the influence of employee expectations (on job performance) also emerged as a significant variable that affects job satisfaction.

From the above analysis, this paper emphasises the complexity of job satisfaction because it is a product of complex attitudinal influences among employees. This complexity provided grounds for the analysis of different aspects of employee performance, including employee motivation, managerial influences, and personal influences (among other factors). The findings of key theorists in the human resource field affirm this fact. Particularly, the views of important theorists, such as Vroom, Maslow, and Herzberg, in their study of human relations, show that job satisfaction is a multifaceted issue. However, their views emphasise the importance of evaluating basic human needs, such as respect and compensation, in assessing job satisfaction. Particularly, the analysis of Vroom on employee motivation (and his focus on compensation) emphasises the works of other theorists, such as Abraham Maslow, in the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Nonetheless, the influence of employee expectations on job satisfaction does not eliminate the influence of external or internal organisational factors on job satisfaction; instead, it moderates the effects of these variables on job satisfaction. Therefore, although compensation, relationship with supervisors, job quality, working conditions, unemployment, social benefits, and other factors may lead to job satisfaction, their effects are subject to employee expectations. This relationship explains why the country analysis (highlighted in chapters four and five) fails to show significant differences in job satisfaction levels, despite the differences in working conditions among the countries sampled. Therefore, although this paper mainly focused on internal and external organisational factors that affect job satisfaction, the importance of employee expectations cannot be underestimated.

Theories that explain employee motivation and job satisfaction emphasise the influence of employee expectations on job satisfaction. For example, the studies by McGregor, Maslow, and Vroom (among other researchers) emphasise the role of employee-factors in improving job satisfaction. This analysis is important to managers who may want to understand the efficacy of internal and external organisational factors on employee job satisfaction. Here, they would realise that the influence of these internal and external organisational factors are subject to employee expectations.

Overall, this paper establishes that the external factors that affect job satisfaction include unemployment levels and industry wages/salaries. The internal organisational factors that affect job satisfaction include opportunities for career advancement and relationship between employers and employees. This paper also establishes that employee expectations and age equally affect job satisfaction. Employee-specific factors emerge as a moderating factor in the relationship between the internal and external organisational factors that affect job satisfaction. Nonetheless, ideally, job satisfaction would occur when employees do what they like, with satisfaction and zeal. Managers should reward them for their efforts in this regard. Through such efforts, job satisfaction should create feelings of happiness and enthusiasm among employees.

This paper identifies the internal and external organisational factors that affect employee job satisfaction. However, disputes exist regarding the extent that these factors influence job satisfaction. Considering managers rely on the findings of such studies to improve organisational performance, it is crucial for future studies to highlight, which between the two factors (internal and external organisational factors) affect job satisfaction the most. This analysis is important for modern organisations because they face the challenge of using minimal organisational resources to improve organisational performance. Therefore, they should understand which of the internal or external organisational factors have the highest impact on job satisfaction. This way, they would divert their organisational resources to improve the set of organisational factors that have the highest influence on job satisfaction. For example, if future research affirms internal organisational factors affect employee job satisfaction the most, managers should focus on improving these factors for maximum productivity. Similarly, if future research affirms that external organisational factors affect employee job satisfaction the most, managers should focus on improving these factors for maximum productivity. This analysis should provide future direction for improving organisational performance.

References

Aziri B, ‘Job Satisfaction: A Literature Review’, Management Research and Practice, vol. 3, no. 4, 2011, pp. 77-86.

Bright L,Does Public Service Motivation Really Make a Difference on the Job Satisfaction and Turnover Intentions of Public Employees’, The American Review of Public Administration, vol. 38, no. 149, 2008, pp. 149-166.

Llorente RM & E Mac´ıas, ‘Job satisfaction as an indicator of the quality of work’, The Journal of Socio-Economics, vol. 34, no. 1, 2005, pp. 656–673.

Waskiewicz SP, Variables That Contribute to Job Satisfaction of Secondary School Assistant Principals, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1999, Web.

Web-Books, Motivating Employees, Web-Books, 2014, Web.

Footnotes

  1. B Aziri, ‘Job Satisfaction: A Literature Review’, Management Research and Practice, vol. 3, no. 4, 2011, pp. 77-86.
  2. Aziri, p. 77.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. SP Waskiewicz, Variables That Contribute to Job Satisfaction of Secondary School Assistant Principals, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1999, Web.
  8. Waskiewicz, p. 2.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Aziri, p. 79.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Waskiewicz, p. 2.
  22. Ibid.
  23. Ibid.
  24. Ibid.
  25. Ibid.
  26. Ibid.
  27. Ibid.
  28. Ibid.
  29. Ibid.
  30. Ibid.
  31. Ibid.
  32. Ibid.
  33. Ibid.
  34. Ibid.
  35. Ibid.
  36. Ibid.
  37. Ibid.
  38. Ibid.
  39. Ibid., p. 22.
  40. Ibid.
  41. Ibid.
  42. Ibid.
  43. Ibid., p. 26.
  44. Ibid.
  45. Ibid.
  46. Ibid.
  47. Ibid.
  48. Ibid.
  49. Ibid.
  50. Ibid.
  51. Ibid.
  52. Ibid.
  53. Ibid.
  54. RM Llorente & E Mac´ıas, ‘Job satisfaction as an indicator of the quality of work’, The Journal of Socio-Economics, vol. 34, no. 1, 2005, pp. 656–673.
  55. Llorente & Mac´ıas, p. 659.
  56. Ibid.
  57. Ibid.
  58. Ibid., p. 559.
  59. Ibid.
  60. Ibid.
  61. Ibid., p. 663.
  62. L Bright,Does Public Service Motivation Really Make a Difference on the Job Satisfaction and Turnover Intentions of Public Employees’, The American Review of Public Administration, vol. 38, no. 149, 2008, pp. 149-166.
  63. Llorente & Mac´ıas, p. 663.
  64. Ibid.
  65. Ibid.
  66. Ibid.
  67. Ibid.
  68. Web-Books, Motivating Employees, Web-Books, 2014, Web.
  69. Ibid.
  70. Ibid.
  71. Ibid.
  72. Ibid.
  73. Bright, p. 149.
  74. Ibid.