Job Satisfaction Theories and Evaluation

Introduction

Job satisfaction commonly refers to the measure of the extent to which the employees are contended with their work. Although different people find not the same aspects of the professional life important, there are a number of the factors defining the concept of the job satisfaction. Given the fact that, for some people, the job can be the central part of their life, job satisfaction affects many aspects of the functioning of the organizations. Hence, there are different ways of assessing the degree of the job satisfaction in the different contexts.

It goes without saying that each employee has their own understanding of the concept of the satisfactory workplace and work conditions. However, overall, there are some generalized differences usually associated with the personal, demographical and cultural factors. Considering all the divergences in the attitude towards the job satisfaction, one of the objectives of this paper is to define some common antecedents present in of job satisfaction concept of the majority of people.

However, the relationship between the job satisfaction and the role of the professional life within the outlook of different people is two-fold. Not only the degree of job satisfaction is important in the lives of many people but also it can have the influence on the work process and results.

Furthermore, there are multiple links between the level of the organizational and individual performance and the job satisfaction of the employees. On one hand, the culture of the organizational behavior and work commitment also, in some ways, are dependent on the job satisfaction since it acts as one of the crucial motivators. Nevertheless, on the other hand, there is a strong correlation between the degree of job satisfaction and employee turnover.

Overall, the multiple consequences of the job satisfaction levels can have either positive or negative effects on both the company’s performance and the psychological attitude and the life-work balance of the employees. For those reasons, the job satisfaction became one of the most accounted for concepts in the organizational behavior studies and industrial organizational psychology, and it can be both studied from the theoretical perspective and applied in practice in the industrial and corporate environment in order to enhance the company’s performance. In such a way, the main objective of this paper is to provide the analysis of the causes and effects of the job satisfaction and its correlation to the other phenomena in the sphere of behavioral management and organizational psychology.

The definition of the job satisfaction

Due to the fact that the nature of the job satisfaction can be the subject of interest both from the perspective of the organizational management and from the point of view of the theoretical research, it is one of the most frequently analyzed areas within the sphere of organizational behavior.

Different companies tend to pay not the same level of attention to the measure of how their employees feel about their work. Despite the importance of the physical and psychological well-being of the employees can often be underestimated, those factors have some substantial effects on the work process. That is why it becomes more and more important practice among the managers to assess the job satisfaction of the companies’ employees on the regular basis. However, before analyzing the causes and potential effects of the different degrees of the job satisfaction, it is to explore the various ways of defining the concept of the job satisfaction (Williams & Anderson, 1991).

The easiest and the most generalized definition of what can be called job satisfaction is that the concept mostly refers to the way the employees feel about their work. In many ways, it is understandable that the employers and the organizational managers are primarily interested in the effects of the job satisfaction on the company’s performance. In other words, because of that fact, their reasons and attempts to make the employees feel good about their works are related rather to the pragmatic objectives than to the desire to make the humanitarian effort.

The theories of the job satisfaction

Considering the issues related to the definition of the job satisfaction, it is reasonable to assume that there are a number of theories trying to interpret the concept. The most well-regarded theories that were developed since the introduction of the idea of job satisfaction in the 1970s include the equity theory, affect theory, and discrepancy theory and the approach of the disproportion analysis (Spector, 1997).

Given the fact that the job satisfaction can be analyzed from the perspective of the applied behavioral analysis as the concept that has certain causes and consequences, one of the most deliberated theories is the model of the affect theory of job satisfaction. This theory suggests that the value of the job to the employee and their attitude to it is in many ways defined by the expectations related to the employee’s occupation.

Therefore, the degree to which the expectations are met predetermines the level to which the employee is satisfied or dissatisfied in the workplace. Moreover, it is also important to point out the fact that, from the perspective of this theory, the different facets of the working life represent not the same value for different individuals.

For that reason, the significant role in the ensuring the job satisfaction in the workplace is to be able to find the job for the each employee that reflects the facets of primary importance to him or her, and therefore, guarantees that the employee is more satisfied with their work. Another important statement of this theory is also that the fewer expectations are met in the areas that are more significant to the employee, the less the job satisfaction will be regardless of the coronary to the expectations in the other less significant areas (Spector, 1997).

Another theory of the job satisfaction that needs mentioning is the equity theory. The main proposition of the equity theory is that the basis of the job satisfaction relies on the fair relationships between the employer and the employee. In such a way, the extent to which the employee can be satisfied or dissatisfied with his or her job will majorly depend on the level to which the conditions of the job and the different facets of the workplace are fair with the ones he or she expected. From such a perspective, the dissatisfaction occurs when the employee feels rewarded less than it is fair, whereas the due reward results in the higher levels of the job satisfaction.

The discrepancy theory is also worth mentioning in the context of the job satisfaction interpretations. Due to the fact that the main idea behind the discrepancy theory is the role of emotions in the degree of the job satisfaction, the negative emotions, such as anxiety and dejections are interpreted as the major source of the discrepancy in the workplace. The latter, in its turn, leads to the job satisfaction. One of the main concepts in the framework of this theory is the coronary between the fulfillment of the responsibilities and the level of job satisfaction. Therefore, when an employee fails to attend to the responsibilities and cannot work to the quality he or she is expected, it launches frustration and anxiety, which are the main causes of the job dissatisfaction (Spector, 1997).

The disproportional approach interprets the main causes of the job satisfaction as the employees’ individual predeterminations since every individual has a different potential of being satisfied with the certain facets of the job and conditions of the workplace. Considering the fact that for most people, the level of their job satisfaction does not vary significantly in the correlation with the different careers they choose. Therefore, the core of this theory underlines the fact that the individual predetermination and personal criteria are the main causes of the job satisfaction.

Another theory that is worth mentioning is the two-factor approach of defining the level of job satisfaction. This theory considers such factors as motivation and hygiene as two main causes of the degree of the job satisfaction in the various work environments. On one hand, the motivators are the factors that positively affect the job satisfaction. They vary from one individual to another, and different people see the importance of different facets not in the same way. However, on the other hand, hygiene factors are those that identify the satisfaction with the conditions that depend intermediately on the company, including pay rates, organizational policies, different benefits, rewards, and compensations, as well as such aspects of work conditions as supervision and communication within the work environment.

The ways of evaluating the job satisfaction

The basic way of finding out the employees’ attitude towards their job is to conduct a cross-sectional survey. In order to do it, the researchers of the organizational behavior will need to apply a set of criterion describing the facets of the job satisfaction. Overall, the attitude-related perspective of understanding the concept of the job satisfaction is now dominant because the people’s intermediate attitude is easier to analyze.

Although different people find not the same aspects of the professional life important, there is a number of the factors defining the concept of the job satisfaction. It is also important to underline the fact that the successful evaluation requires a representative number of the employees involved in the research. The reason for that is that their attitude cannot be representative in terms of global attitude in the company if the preference of one aspect of the job satisfaction is predetermined by the factors beyond the standard area of the employees’ job satisfaction facets.

The major determinants of influencing the satisfaction with the job related to the organizational structure are appreciation and approval, communication, relationships with colleagues, different kinds of benefits, nature of the work as it is, the organization itself, and other conditions. They also include the organizational policies and procedures, promotion perspectives opportunities, pay, personal growth, recognition, security, and the quality of the supervision (Babin & Boles, 1996). The most significant fact about such scale of the criterion is that it is replicable for practically any organizational environment since the variables are quite generalized.

In addition, the important part of such a type of the global attitude research, the inclusion of the factors that produces the dissatisfactory facets of the job. Overall, such model with a considerable amount of the job satisfaction evaluation will be the most commonly accepted option. However, there is a number of conditions under which the global evaluation scale is applicable. One of the most evident examples is that it cannot be applied if the number of the employees who should be surveyed is too big. In such case, it would be cost ineffective and time-consuming procedure, instead of which some different methods of assessment could be applied.

The methods of job satisfaction causes assessment

There is a number of the available method of surveying the degree of the job satisfaction amongst the employees of the organization. The specific scales define the causes of job satisfaction, as well as the factors of dissatisfaction with the work process by the different criteria that are designed for the specific contexts since, in some ways, the expectations of the employees from the different organizations are also not the same.

The five most well-known and commonly used scales of the job satisfaction assessment are the Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS), the Job Descriptive Index (JDI), the Job Diagnostic Scale (JDS), the Job in General Scale (JGS), and Michigan Organizational Assessment Questionnaire Subscale (Spector, 1997).

In the context of the Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS), there is a set of interconnected subscales reflecting the majority of the most typical causes of the causes of the job satisfaction. However, if the organization fails to provide the expected level to which those facets are actualized, the same criterion will describe the dissatisfaction with the job expressed by the employees.

The Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS) defines such causes for the assessment of the degree of the job satisfaction as pay, promotion, benefits, supervision, contingent rewards, coworkers, operational procedures (a set of tasks), nature of work and work communication (Spector, 1997). From the standpoint of such a manner of surveying, those facets are the basic concepts within the definition of the job satisfaction.

However, they can be drawn together into the larger categories because they deal with the different areas of work. For example, the dimension of receiving the rewards from the job will include such smaller scales as pay, benefits, and consistent rewards whereas the promotion and supervision are the elements of the satisfaction with the organizational policies and work environment. Such causes of the job satisfaction as coworkers and work communication generally represent the communicative component of being satisfied with the job. However, there is also a larger sphere of the satisfaction with the nature of work, which includes the nature of working a particular in the given company and the set of tasks assigned to the employee, otherwise defined as the operating procedures.

However, it is also important to underline that the each of the facets should be referred to at least in four questions and should include both the positively and negatively formulated questions or items in order to minimize the risks of the question misinterpretation (Spector, 1997).

The other variations of the surveying methods are the Job Descriptive Index (JDI) and the Job in General Scale (JGS) that are designed on the basis of the same criteria for defining the causes of job satisfaction. Instead of assessing the nature of the particular job, these surveys evaluate the overall experience of the work on a present job. Another nuance that differentiates the two approaches is that the Job Descriptive Index (JDI) pays a lot more attention to the future opportunities as a factor of the job satisfaction.

For that reason, the opportunities for the future promotion are classified as the separate subcategory of the job satisfaction evaluation. The other facets of the assessment correspond to the ones used in the Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS) namely the quality of supervision and the relationships with the coworkers (Spector, 1997).

Differences in the causes of the job satisfaction

While the importance of the positive index of the job satisfaction among the employees gets more and more attention over the years, one of the nuances of the job satisfaction that also needs to be accounted for is the causes of the differences in the degree to which the workforce is satisfied with their jobs. Moreover, such aspect can often be overlooked. The differences in the degree of the job satisfaction among the employees experiencing similar working conditions can be attributed to the dispositional influences, cultural divergences, and work situation influences.

The major aspect of the dispositional influences concerns the individual’s own dispositions. Given the fact that for most people, the level of their job satisfaction does not vary significantly in the correlation with the careers they choose and work positions they occupy, it is reasonable to expect some individual disposition concerning their personal satisfaction with the job they chose.

Such antecedent of the job satisfaction differences mainly correlates with the disproportional approach that interprets the main causes of the job satisfaction as the employees’ individual disposition towards the job because every individual has a different potential of being satisfied with the certain facets of the job and conditions of the workplace. Furthermore, it strongly relates to the level of the self-evaluation. Different personality traits predetermine the way in which people estimate their work. On one hand, people who have a high level of ability to perform more or less objective self-evaluation are more satisfied with their job.

On the other hand, both too high and two low levels of self-worth can result in misinterpretations of one’s performance and fairness of the rewards. Too low self-esteem leads to the dissatisfaction with the individual’s performance, which results in higher levels of anxiety, whereas overestimating one’s own performance may initiate the dissatisfaction with the rewards, such as pay, benefits, etc. In addition, in the regards of the individual factors, such personality traits as conscientiousness and extraversion are more likely to influence the degree of the job satisfaction positively.

In terms of trying to diminish the negative influence of the dispositional influences, the best way of dealing with the dissatisfaction is to try to find the position, in which the core expectations of the employee are met to the bigger extent. For instance, the introverted person would be more comfortable without the necessity to have the communicational responsibilities as the main work task.

The research of the cultural differences of the job satisfaction grows with the level of globalization in the modern world. The international organizations that have the cross-cultural environment among their employees should have the objective of how to account for the differences in the attitudes towards the job that depend on the culture. According to Saari and Judge (2004), the major difference in the cultural influences relates to the extent in which companies “view employees in instrumental versus humanistic ways” (p. 397).

One of the dimensions in which the cultural differences manifest themselves in the attitude to the job is the differences between individualistic and collectivistic cultures in the workplace. It relates to the extraversion and the introversion of the diverse cultures, which also affect such parameter of comparing cultural differences in the workplace as avoidance of risks or tendency to take risks when the latter is attributed to more extraverted cultures.

Another trait that presupposes the different attitudes to work is the masculinity vs. femininity inherent in the certain cultures. Nevertheless, from the perspective of the enhancing the job satisfaction in the international corporations, the main objective is to ensure that all those aspects are included in the way that employees feel comfortable and do not experience any additional stress because of the company’s neglecting the cultural differences.

Finally, the category of the work situation differences includes various facets of the work environment that can be regulated by the company. In order to enhance the job satisfaction and to benefit from the positive effects of it, the company’s management needs to address such triggers of the environmental and individual causes of the job satisfaction (Saari & Judge, 2004).

The environmental causes of the job satisfaction

Among the environmental causes of the job satisfaction, there are a number of factors associated with the company’s insider culture. Environmental causes of the job satisfaction include the satisfaction with the amount and the manner of the supervision, the various communication-related facets, such as relationships and communicating with the coworkers, and the ability to get various types of feedback from the colleagues and the employer. The insufficient levels of the communication or stress caused by the issues with the supervision and coworker relationships are likely to result in the psychological distress and anxiety, which affect the level of the job satisfaction quite negatively (Babin & Boles, 1996).

However, it is also important to underline the fact that concepts like recognition and appreciation of the employees also belong to this category. Moreover, it is often suggested that the recognition and appreciation of the employees are strongly associated with the job motivation, which a significant factor of the overall performance.

The reward as a cause of the job satisfaction

The first aspect that needs to be considered in terms of the reward as a factor of job satisfaction is how the financial causes affect the employees’ attitude toward their job. In particular, it means that the reward that the employees get for their work should be objectively due to the work that they perform (Spector, 1997).

The fairness of pay and various fringe benefits ensure that at least the financial expectations of the employees are met. Nevertheless, considering the aspiration aspect of job satisfaction, the possibility of the promotion and the further growth in the company’s hierarchy acts as a significant motivator and enhances the performance. Therefore, not only the promotions themselves but also merely the perspective of it and the deliberated promotion plan are the major causes of the job satisfaction.

The nature of work as a cause of the job satisfaction

The components included into the concept of the nature of work are the conditions of the work environment, the organization itself, the position of the employee, the nature of work itself (including the set of tasks assigned to a certain employee). They also include the security of the job itself and the different facets of the company’s policies and rules.

Since different professions include the dissimilar risks associated with them, some of the jobs will have the stress caused by the nature of work in any case. However, in this case, to enhance the job satisfaction, the employees need to be fairly rewarded and not to experience any additional causes of distress by the influence of other facets.

The individual causes of the job satisfaction

Due to the fact that people at work have different personalities influenced by their genetics and cultural and social upbringing, the individual causes of the job satisfaction vary from one person to another. Mainly, they relate to how much the individual is recognized and valued as a part of an organization and how the management cares about the employees’ personal growth.

In order to enhance the job satisfaction, each employee should feel their inclusion in the work process and significance of their contribution. Moreover, the specially organized trainings improving the employee’s personal and professional development guarantee the improvements in the job satisfaction (Williams & Anderson, 1991).

The relationship between the job satisfaction and performance

According to Judge, Thoresen, Bono, and Patton (2001), the job satisfaction is related to the successful completion of the tasks, and, therefore, the higher level of the job satisfaction can be observed among the employees who choose to perform “moderately challenging tasks” (p. 392). The reason for that lies in the fact that tasks that do not represent any challenge make the employee dissatisfied of the nature of the job because the set of tasks assigned to them is lower than their potential abilities. However, the tasks that appear to be too hard or impossible to complete by a certain employee may cause a significant job dissatisfaction and stress because of the unfinished or badly done work (Judge et al., 2001).

Although the linkage between the job satisfaction and the level of performance is a firmly established component of the organizational behavior studies, it is also important to underline the fact that job satisfaction affects the correlated concepts of productivity and motivation (Williams & Anderson, 1991).

The correlations between job satisfaction, organizational behavior, work commitment, and employee turnover

The prevalence of the employees satisfied with their job demonstrates a positive influence on the work commitment as part of the organizational behavior. Such practices as turnover and absenteeism are less likely to occur in the environment where the job satisfaction is considered a valuable asset.

The employees who show a higher degree of job satisfaction are more productive because they experience less anxiety about their performance and less psychological tension. In its turn, the high productive is directly related to reducing the employee turnover because of insufficient performance (Spector, 1997).

The connections between the job satisfaction, life-work relationships, physical and psychological well-being

In many ways, the physical and psychological well-being are indivisible with the degree of the job satisfaction. First of all, in terms of physical health, the unsafe conditions in the workplace directly affecting the health of the employees are the major threat to the job satisfaction. Naturally, various professions include the dissimilar risks associated with them, some of the jobs will have the stress caused by the nature of work in any case.

Moreover, some jobs, including professions in law enforcement or emergency services, have the intermediate threats to the employees’ lives. However, in this case, to enhance the job satisfaction, the employees need to be fairly reworded. Also, for the jobs with the high risks, there is a number of measures that the employers need to implement to ensure their psychological health and well-being (Cranny, Smith, & Stone, 1992).

The work-life relationships can be majorly affected by the stress caused because of the job satisfaction. Not meeting the expectations in the sphere of the professional life reflects on the personal life even to the extent of causing anxiety and depression.

Conclusion

In the sphere of the organizational behavior, the concept of the job satisfaction refers to the way the employees feel about their work. In many ways, it is understandable that the employers and the organizational managers are primarily interested in the effects of the job satisfaction on the company’s performance. In order to evaluate the level of the job satisfaction, the researchers use different approaches and index questionnaires. The major difference in the causes of job satisfaction include the dispositional differences, the cultural influences, and individual differences.

Main causes of the job satisfaction are divided into a number of categories, such as environmental, individual, and reward-related causes, as well as the nature of the job itself as one of the determinants. It is also important that the job satisfaction has a number of the positive effect on the overall organizational functioning. It is proved to increase the employees’ performance and work commitment and reduces the turnover, whereas the dissatisfaction may result in the issues related to life-work relationships, physical and psychological well-being.

References

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