Job satisfaction has long been a topic of considerable interest among researchers and practitioners. Weiss and Cropanzano regarded the correlation between job satisfaction and job performance as “Holy Grail” of organisational behaviour research (Weiss and Cropanzano, 5-6). During the 1930s, the Human Relations ideology claimed that employees’ job satisfaction and improved morale result in higher job performance.
This statement has been largely reversed during the 1970s, and from then on the debate around this topic goes not whilst numerous studies conducted for the last thirty years failed to reveal the strong relationship between job satisfaction and job performance. This paper aims to argue that even if assumed that job satisfaction is not necessarily closely related to job performance, managers should be concerned about employees` personal fulfillment.
The understanding of the factors affecting employee’s satisfaction or process that formulate them remains to be crucial for contemporary manager, regardless the results and numerical data provided by various studies on negative correlation between job satisfaction and worker’s performance. As William F. Roth argues in his debate with colleagues regarding the most useful aspect in organisation’s activity (the choice is between customers, suppliers and employees), “if a company needs customers, suppliers, and distributors, employees go out and find them…
The primary thing that companies must focus on if they want to excel is the satisfaction of employees’ needs so that these people want to do their jobs” (Roth, 17). Considering the fact that British and American workplace is considered one of the most complex and turbulent working environments in the world, Roth’s statement is justified. At work modern employees face many problems, including stress, discrimination, intense competition, etc, however, the dilemma of job satisfaction represents the most prevalent challenge for both employers and personnel.
Article in the 1995 issue of “USA Today” reflects that the most problematic aspects of American workplace are job dissatisfaction, which occurs when employees “are working long hours, aren’t being paid commensurate with their job performance, don’t have job security…” (USA Today, 1) It is evident that issue of job satisfaction has a whole array of problematic aspects.
However, if these problems can be identified they surely can be addressed with different strategies that help employers to eliminate dissatisfaction triggers and develop healthy and highly motivating working environment. From the critical perspective, the term job satisfaction for modern employees no longer carries essential materialistic meaning. As Brain Dumaine notes that sole financial benefits cannot explain why people like “Warren Buffet and Bill Gates…throw themselves into their jobs as if their next meal depended on it” (Dumaine, 196).
Since Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has been discovered almost fifty years ago, employers understand that in literal terms money can no longer buy workers’ patience, loyalty and commitment, and Dumaine’s argument goes in accord stating that people “…are looking to work to satisfy some deeply individualistic, emotional and psychological need” (Dumaine, 196). Moreover, it is evident that in order to have a capable company, one should have committed and highly motivated personnel.
In the relationship satisfaction-performance, aspect of employee commitment should be emphasised. According to Johnston et al. , job satisfaction is generally considered to be an antecedent of organisational commitment (Johnston et al. , 73). Ostroff expalins, that job satisfied employees are more likely to accept the organisation’s goals and put in greater work effort to positively influence organisational outcomes (Ostroff, 968). Mowday et al. define commitment as the strength of employees’ “identification with and involvement in the organisation” (Mowday et al. 27).
Allen and Meyer have identified three types of commitment, these being affective, continuance and normative commitment. The motivation for each type of commitment has different implications. Affective commitment refers to the individuals’ emotional attachment to the organisation. Continuance commitment occurs when individuals remain with an organisation because the cost of leaving outweighs the cost of staying; whereas, normative commitment occurs when individuals retain membership out of obligation (Allen and Meyer, 3-5).
From the perspective offered by the researchers even if job satisfaction contributes only a little to performance, it does give much to organisational commitment, and the latter impacts the performance of an organisation on entirely different levels. It is evident that most organisations today are dealing with turbulent and unpredictable demands. Consequently, the kinds of controls that are needed, especially in light of the structural transformations that are occurring, must be responsive. The fundamental change in control is related to its locus, which must move from system and supervision to self and social (the individual and group).
In short, organisations are moving from compliance, which depends upon system and supervisory control, to commitment, which uses individual and group control. This shift recognises the need for the organisation’s informal system to be legitimised as equal to the formal system in serving overall objectives. Therefore, the general proposition offered is that as an organisation’s control system moves from system and supervisory control to self and social control, the need for employee commitment to work, co-workers, and organisation increases concomitantly.
Therefore, in the light of this statement it becomes evident that managers should be concerned with employee’s satisfaction as a factor influencing organisational commitment. Whilst employee’s satisfaction affects orgnisational commitment, the latter impacts organisaional climate. And although climate is perhaps the least tangible aspect of organisational life, it seems to have very powerful and tangible effects on employees. In a high energy atmosphere one can sense people’s excitement just by watching the way they move, the way they interact and go about their business, and even the expressions on their faces.
When one walks out of a very positive atmosphere, one wants to go back. If the atmosphere is stifling, unwelcoming, filled with tension, and not much fun, then one does not want to return. If the place happens to be one’s workplace, the effect can be very powerful. Since commitment comes from within the person, the climate in which that person must function is very important. Work or people or organizations that drain energy are likely to result, over the long run, in withdrawal and not in identification.
The proposition related to climate can be stated as: to the extent that an organisation’s climate fosters employee pleasure, growth, and development, and to the extent that it energises its people into actions that serve both individual and organisational purposes, it also tends to foster a high level of employee commitment. Analysis of the research conducted in the area of job satisfaction reveals that different groups of employees have different views on job satisfaction.
For instance, R. Zeffane indicated in his study that when it comes to measuring job satisfaction sample respondents valued “task variety, participation in decisions, certainty about future directions and perceived work-group performance” (Zeffane, 137). Interestingly, more recent study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management identified top three priorities for employees regarding job satisfaction, namely job security, benefits and communications between employees and management (Denes, 8). The study also revealed different views on job satisfaction expressed by distinctive groups of employees.
For instance, young workers rated communications in company and work/life balance as equally important, while older employees value job security first (Denes, 8). Women valued the most a balance between life and work and communication, while men ranked benefits first (Denes, 8). These figures prove that American workplace, and perhaps British one, is a mosaic notably marked with diversity of interests, backgrounds, lifestyles, etc. Practically, effective employer needs to consider all the aspects of this mosaic while developing successful human resources development, organisational behaviour and retention strategy.
It is inevitable that views on job satisfaction and motivators will vary greatly from individual to individual and strategies that usually work for on group of employees in particular environment may not be effective for other individuals. For instance, for nurses recognition and achievement are considered the primary factors for retention (Gunnar Vaughn, 13). For other individuals job satisfaction comes primarily from passion they have to particular occupation, regardless of compensation and benefits. For these people the major benefit is experience they gain performing their tasks on the job.
For instance, Dave Curtin in his article provides an example of an emergence medical technician whose job satisfaction is a result of her passion and experience, as she asserts, “I take something from all the patients and the different experiences I encounter” (Curtin, 1). As one may observe that job satisfaction has important individualistic perceptions, which can be above the employer’s ability to address them. However, there are many aspects related to job satisfaction that are universal for the majority of workers.
Ideal employers position their employees for success by providing the knowledge, education, skill training, tools, change, reflection, and renewal opportunities necessary for success. Employees in organisations such as these are partners in success. Logically, individuals successful in their endeavors are happy with their accomplishments and themselves. It is important that employees recognise their organizations’, co-workers’, managers’, and leaders’ contributions to their personal and professional achievements, which results in greater satisfaction with the firm, work environment, peers, and so forth.