Job Satisfaction and Performance
The level of job satisfaction is important. The design of individual jobs, the structuring of positions and organizations, and the choice of technologies have major implications for job satisfaction. It hardly seems wise to make choices likely to invoke strong negative feelings. Creating an organizational setting more in tune with the expectations and requirements of both workers and managers is well within our reach.
But what are the economic returns from job satisfaction? Can an organization that operates on a razor-thin margin of profit afford to design a more human organization? How does job satisfaction affect job performance?
The discussion point out the fallacy of the “pet milk theory” that happy workers are productive workers. Does this mean that increasing job satisfaction will have no effect on performance or on lowering the costs of production? We can draw a clear distinction between the “happiness days” of human relations and the concept of job satisfaction. Employers had tried to make their workers happy by furnishing them with items that were not related directly to the jobs they performed-that did not directly affect the nature of the job. Remember that the concept of job satisfaction is restricted to the feelings, positive and negative, that one has toward the job; the concepts of general happiness and job satisfaction are independent of each other.
In one Maytag plant, the assembly of a water pump was gradually changed from an assembly-line procedure to one-person work station; the complete pump was assembled at each work station. Job satisfaction went up quite a bit, and other results were also observed. The time that it took to assemble each pump dropped from 1.77 minutes per pump to 1.49 minutes; the company reported savings of $2,000 per year. (Kilbridge)
In another situation, each member of work groups of carpenters and brick-layers was allowed to nominate, in order of preference, three co-workers as a work partner. Twenty-two of these received as partners the co-workers nominated as first choice; twenty-eight more received their second choice; sixteen were assigned their third choice. The result of this change in construction work practices was that labor costs and materials costs were greatly reduced. There was also a significant drop in turnover, suggesting greater job satisfaction. (Reymond H. Van Zelst, 1952)
Which Causes Which?
It makes intuitive sense that a person who enjoys the work works harder at it than the person who does not. Similarly, one interested and involved in should have a stronger commitment to doing a better job.
The argument could also be made that doing the job well causes one to be satisfied with that job. The tendency to continue doing what one does well and to find satisfaction in such competence may offer some of the rationale for the performance-leads-to-satisfaction argument. Inability to perform work duties well should be expected to cause frustration and thus lead to dissatisfaction.
If performance and satisfaction are related, which causes the other? Does the ability to perform the duties of a job well cause satisfaction? Or does satisfaction with the various components of the job induce higher level of job performance?
As yet these questions are unsettled. We do know that they are related in some way, however. Even if we were to find that job satisfaction did not lead to increased productivity. There is the simple concern for workers as people, for instance, as well as the belief that others should not be harmed, degraded, or deprived of their inherent dignity. These considerations might encourage one to eliminate the unnecessarily dissatisfying and to increase the satisfying facets of the job.
Job Satisfaction and Job Characteristics
When first considered, a job seems to be a straightforward concept. One’s job is what is done, typically on a continuing basis, in exchange for some reward or compensation. Yet a nurse’s or an accountant’s job is more than the application of nursing or accounting skills. The idea of the reward or compensation is more complex than it might first seem, too; a volunteer hospital worker or youth sports coach does not work for what we normally view as compensation, for no money is involved.
In short, the job one holds consists of quite a few components, among which jobholders easily differentiate. When asked how they liked their jobs, most people answer that some part of the job are good (perhaps the family co-workers or a supportive boss) and some not so good (such as a noisy workplace, insufficient office supplies, or poor-quality tools). All things considered, people can usually identify their overall assessment of the many components that make up their jobs.
If any job “is not an entity, but a complex interrelationship of tasks, roles, responsibilities, interactions, incentives, and rewards,“(Locke, p 1301) then none may be treated effectively by ignoring the array of attributes associated with the job. Instead, a format for identifying and analyzing these attributes becomes useful.
An analytical approach gains further benefit when we remember that each job has its own technology and structure; so the elements of the job are subjected to forces and concentrates outside the boundaries of the formal job description. Job satisfaction and morale are influenced by the organization’s structural characteristics by the physical characteristics of the job. Organizational shape and size, degree of job specialization, and monotony and repetitiveness are each important.
Which of the many aspects of a job in the most important in induce satisfaction or dissatisfaction? If a new college graduate were choosing a first job, what should she or he look for as indicators of a potentially satisfying position? Is it possible to “balance off” rather dissatisfying job characteristics with more significant elements and aspects that might make a job satisfying overall? As a future manager, what would you consider in evaluating the job satisfactions and morale or your subordinates? What would you change in their jobs to make them more satisfying?
These questions are complex but important, and they can not be ignored. They must be considered because they directly influence organizational behaviors. Frustration, discontent, conflict, and alienation are inevitable in dissatisfying jobs; these affect the actions and attitudes of individuals. Satisfaction and performance are related, too, and dissatisfaction is associated with personal turnover. Job satisfaction has economic implications.
Because job satisfaction and dissatisfaction have important consequences, designing or changing jobs to enhance satisfaction seems worthwhile. Such changes require information about what to change. The investigations of Frederick Herzberg into the relationships between job attributes and attributes, although, controversial, provide an excellent framework for analysis and action.
If jobholders are not satisfied with their jobs, are they dissatisfied? We might feel the answer to be obvious. But is it? One simple might be neutral or ambivalent toward the job, maybe by liking some aspects and disliking others, rather than being actively dissatisfied. Considering the opposite of job satisfaction to be job dissatisfaction assumes that we can major this complex phenomenon on a single continuum or scale.
Herzberg and his associates conducted a series of interviews with two hundred engineers and accountants. (Frederick Herzberg, B. Mausner, and B. Snyderman – New York: Wiley, 1959). Those interviewed were asked to describe the events that occurred during those periods of their leaves in which they were extremely happy and unhappy with their jobs. When the events and experiences were analyzed, those associated with job satisfaction were found to be different from the events associated with job dissatisfaction. In other words, job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction were found to be two separate concepts, each of which was caused by a different set of factors.
Job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction could not be represented as to and points on a single scale of attribute toward the job. The single-scale approach would lead to the conclusion that if a worker were 70 percent satisfied with the job, he or she must be also 30 percent dissatisfied. If a bad relationship with the boss were associated with job dissatisfaction, the normal assumption would be that a good relationship with the boss was associated with job satisfaction; contrary to expectation, the good worker-boss relationship was found to contribute little if anything to job satisfaction.
What this means is that the worker who is not dissatisfied is not necessarily satisfied with the job; he or she maybe neutral. Similarly, the worker who is not satisfied is not necessarily dissatisfied with the job; he or she maybe neutral (neither satisfied nor dissatisfied). The concepts of job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are not, according to Herzberg, end points on the same linear scale. They are two different concepts, each caused by a different set of job-related factors.