The notion that employee job satisfaction should be a top priority for managers has been one of much debate. Although managers have many roles in organizations, their most important purpose is to manage their organizations (employees) in a way that can maximize profits. Thus, investing time, effort and money in ensuring that employees are satisfied in only worthwhile if it results in higher productivity and profitability for the firm. Early theorist theorized that increased profitability should increase with an increase in job satisfaction while later studies emerged to refute the existence of any significant relationship between the two variables. However, various literature has more recently emerged drawing attention to the appropriate level of analysis that should be undertaken when examining this relationship. Thus, in this paper I will summarize results of studies against and in support of the performance – job satisfaction model and ultimately present my view that under the right job setting that managers would be well advised to invest their resources in improving job satisfaction.
There are many different variations of definitions for job satisfaction, but for the purposes of this paper, I will use the following definition: “[Job] satisfaction can be regarded as an evaluation of equitableness of treatments and conditions” (Smith at al, 1969, p. 166 cited in Organ, D.W. 1988). There are two schools of thought on the existence and causes of satisfaction. The first theory states that satisfaction is a fairly stable characteristic in individuals while the second theory states the cause of satisfaction is more situational and indicates that “the climate of the organization, job characteristics, and participation in decision making”(Organ, D.W. 1988) are some of the factors that influence satisfaction in employees. Thus, managers who subscribe to the job satisfaction-performance model can try to enhance workplace performance either through the recruitment of individuals with a predisposition to being satisfied (if they subscribe to the first theory), or alternatively can attempt to create a work environment that facilitate satisfaction though the existence of equal treatment and conditions.
Early theorists such as Likert, Mayo, and McGregor theorized that employee satisfaction is related to organizational performance without implicitly stating at which level of analysis this relationship should be the strongest. The common sense logic of this relationship can be best explained by viewing the job satisfaction-performance relationship as “a social exchange in which employees [that are] accorded some manner of social gift would experience satisfaction and feel an obligation to reciprocate perhaps in the form of increased productivity”(Organ). On the flip side of this relationship, it is predicted that dissatisfied workers would be less willing than satisfied workers to give their service wholeheartedly to their organization and produce up to their maximum potential, but instead have a tendency work at a minimum acceptable level.
Over the last 40 or so years however, the job satisfaction-performance relationship has come under attack due to its failure to produce strong and unambiguous results in favor of any appreciable relationship between high productivity and job satisfaction.
Studies done at the individual employee level have also reported a much weaker correlation between the variables than was originally estimated. For example, a meta-analytic study found that the true population correlation between satisfaction and performance was .17 ((Iaffaldano and Muchinsky, 1985). Such findings have been hurtful to the credibility of this relationship, and yielded many to suggest that worker satisfaction and high performance “form only an illusory correlation between two variables that we logically should interrelate, but in fact do not. (McGee and Cavender, 1984 cited in COURSE PACK.)”
The conflict arises due to the fact that there is no agreed upon definition for productivity. Whereas critics use the traditional definition of productivity, supporters of the performance-job satisfaction model encompass citizen behavior in the definition of performance which also denotes “helpful, constructive gestures exhibited by organizational members and valued or appreciated by officials, but not related directly to individual productivity nor inhering in the enforceable requirements of the individual’s role” (Bateman and Organ (1983). By using citizenship as a measure of performance, various research has provided significant support for the notion that job satisfaction is related to job performance. For instance, a study done indicates that there is “a static correlation of .41 between overall satisfaction and citizenship behavior” (Bateman and Organ 1983) while another found that “OCB gestures aimed at specific individuals correlated .31 with job satisfaction.”
Smith, Organ and Near (1983).
Going back to our definition of satisfaction, we can make sense of this all. Individuals who perceive that they are attaining fair treatment will feel bound by the norm of reciprocity will want to make a positive contribution to the firm. However, due to all the various constraints exerted by “technology, work flow, and individual skills on productivity, they frequently choose to reciprocate in the form of such citizenship behaviors such as cooperation, supportiveness of the supervisor, helping behaviors, and gestures that enhance the reputation of the work unit internal and external to the organization.” (COURSE PACK) Employees however who are not satisfied with their jobs due to perceiving unfairness, will have a greater tendency to not engage in OCB but instead limit their contributions to those that are contractually binding.
Thus, it would be a worthwhile investment for managers to take significant measures to increase job satisfaction. Job satisfaction results in increased commitment, which has positive associations with absenteeism, turnover, job performance, and organizational citizenship behavior. Commitment has favorable effects on decreasing turnover. This can help improve an organizations performance because the organization can save resources on recruiting to fill vacant positions, while simultaneously allowing them to get more from their investments in training of their current workforce. This would especially be of benefit for occupations such as teaching, where tenure is beneficial. However, it should also be noted that not all turnover is bad for performance, as it can also include “resignations from employees who perform poorly or are disruptive. (Hollenbeck and Williams, 1986).” In addition, commitment has also been found to have favorable effects on absenteeism. For example, studies indicate that employees with strong affective commitment “were less likely than those with weak commitment to miss work for reasons that were under their own control.” (Second, Hackett, Bycio, and Hausdorf 1994).
More importantly than absenteeism and turnover is how employees perform while at work. Several studies suggest that overall, “employees with strong affective commitment to the organization worker at their jobs and performs better than those with weak commitment ” (Commitment). In addition to job satisfaction increasing OCB, it has also been shorn that those with “strong affective commitment to the organization reported higher levels of compliance with strategic decisions made at the corporate level than did those with weaker commitment” (Kim and Mauborgne 1993). In addition, numerous studies have included independent assessments of performance. In some studies, for example, affective commitment had been linked to objective indicators such as sales figures (Bashaw and Grant 1994) and the control of operational costs (DeCotiis and Summers, 1987). In addition, commitment was also seen to have favorable effects in the teaching profession as it was positively correlated with student performance on “some academic achievement tests, student attendance, and student satisfaction with their teachers and their education. “(Ostroff)
A recent meta-analytic study (Iaffaldano and Muchinsky, 1985) estimated the true population correlation between satisfaction and performance to be .17.
The satisfaction-performance research has failed to produce strong and unambiguous findings.
Early theorists such as Likert, Mayo, and McGregor implied that employee satisfaction and well being are related to performance, but did not explicitly hypothesize about the appropriate level of analysis. The literature in human relations school does not unambiguously declare that increased satisfaction leads to increased performance, and whether this relationship was implied to hold as the individual level is debatable.
The satisfaction-performance relationship at the organizational level may be stronger than the relationship at individual level.
Some of argued that commitment may result in high performance and may decrease turnover.
Yankelovich (1979/1983) concluded that one major factor contributing to slow productivity in the United States is worker’s attitudes. He believed it is important to gain workers’ commitment and make work satisfying in order to deal with the productivity problems in the United States.
B. Schneider and Schmitt (1986) argued that researchers and managers casually observed that the morale of the workers seemed to be higher in organizations that were efficient and effective than in organizations that were ineffective and inefficient organizations.
Theorists taking the human resources approach ( Likert, Mayo, McGregor) suggest that happy workers are productive workers.
Organizational productivity is achieved through employee satisfaction and attention to workers’ physical and emotional needs (Likert, 1961) Whether of not an employee will give his service wholeheartedly to an organization and produce up to potential depends, in large part, on the way the worker feels about the job, fellow workers, and supervisors. Satisfaction and positive attitudes can be achieved through maintaining a positive social organizational enviroment, such as by providing good communication, autonomy, participation, and mutual tryst (Argyris 1964, Likert 1961)
(Organ 1977) posited that the satisfaction-performance hypothesis espoused by human relations theorists could be explained by a social exchange in which employees accorded some manner of social gift would experience satisfaction and feel an obligation to reciprocate, perhaps in the form of increased productivity.
Considerations of employees’ attitudes and sentiments is important because they determine collaborative effort. Collaborative effort that is directed toward the organization’s objectives in necessary for achievement for achievement of organizational goals, and unhappy employees cannot effectively participate in such efforts. (likert 1961)
Satisfied employees will be more likely to engage in collaborative effort and accept organizational goals that can increase productivity, whereas dissatisfied employees either fail to work collaboratively or may work collaboratively but divert effort away from the achievement of organizational goals.
Measures of organizational effectiveness most likely reflect the combination and interaction of the salient organizational behaviors that promote organizational performance.
Lower performance is just one possible response to dissatisfaction. Dissatisfied employees could also file a grievance, try to improve their performance, ask for a transfer, beat their dog.
A dissatisfied employee could be prevented from lowering performance by various control mechanisms (goals or standards of measurement, supervisory pressure) yet widespread dissatisfaction could lead to a strike or sabotage that could lower organizational effectiveness. (Locke, 1984)
My assumption, based on the work of organizational theorists is that employees who are satisfied, committed, and well adjusted will be more willing to work toward organizational objectives and give their services whole heartedly to the organization, hence promoting organizational effectiveness, than dissatisfied employees, who will be more likely to satisfy minimum expectations of required behavior, perform it at less than their potential, and engage in disruptive behavior that would lower organizational productivity and effectiveness.
Teacher satisfaction was correlated with improved math and reading achievement, increased student achievement, student satisfaction, lower teacher turnover, and greater administrative performance.
Conclusion: The strongest results were found for employee satisfaction; organizations with more satisfied employees tended to be more effective than organizations with less satisfied employees. Furthermore, these relationships were somewhat stronger than those typically observed at the individual level, Therefore, the conclusion of many researchers that satisfaction and performance are not strongly related can be questioned. It may be true that the relationship is weak at the individual level. Yet it is also possible that the weak results are due to the fact that individual-level measures of performance do not reflect the interactions and dependencies in the work process or the role of other salient productivity related behaviors (attachment or citizenship)that measures of organizational effectiveness encompass. The results presented here are promising for examining satisfaction-performance relationships at the organizational level of analysis.
Some work has shown that in addition to school inputs, social characteristics within schools (teacher satisfaction, teacher-student relationships, differentiation in student programs) have an impact on student achievement.
Given the fact that significant and practically important relationships between satisfaction, attitudes, and organizational effectiveness were found, it is important to question which factors contribute to satisfaction, with the implication that organizations that can enhance the satisfaction of employees may be more effective or increase their effectiveness.
A second view of satisfaction focuses on the situational context as a cause of satisfaction and has indicated that the climate of the organization, job characteristics, and participation to decision making are related to employee satisfaction. The first uew us that satisfaction is a fairly stable characteristic of indivisuals. These two theories imply that organizations that desire satisfied employees can either select employtees with a predisposition to be satisfied or create a work environment that facilitates satisfaction, or both. (Define satisfaction, give these two theories, and say that firms which subscribe to the satisfaction- productivity model can either/or)
Conclusion II: Increased satisfaction and well being were posited to lead to increased performance. However, it is equally as likely that high organizational performance could lead to satisfaction and well-being . It could be argued that employees who are in higher performing organizations are more likely to be satisfied, commited simply because their organization is doing well. Direction of Casuality is hard to extablish. It is likely that a reciprical relationship exists. Causality works in both directions.
My theory on opportunity cost. Shitty employees are already working hard cause they are afraid of losing job. You want to keep the good employees happy, the ones with the most autonomy who CAN better influence their performance, the ones who work in teams, cause they can easily leave. So I don’t think that this relationship is universal but circumstantial=success lies on that.
Over 30 years have elapsed since Brayfield and Crocket (1955) reviewed a large body of evidence generally unsupportive of the proposition that there is any appreciable relationship between the variables, let alone the idea that ‘job satisfaction causes performance.’
(McGee and Cavender, 1984) came to much the same conclusion as the earlier assessments, suggesting that high productivity and worker satisfaction form only ‘an illusory correlation…between two variables that we logically think should interrelate, but in fact do not.
Strong intuitive belief, conventional wisdom,
Define performance: non-productivity or extra role dimensions as cooperation, informal modes of helping coworkers and superiors, and general tendencies toward compliance. With such a definition there is a problem to measure for research.
Bateman and Organ (1983) used the term citizen behavior to denote helpful, constructive gestures exhibited by organizational members and valued or appreciated by officials, but not related directly to individual productivity nor inhering in the enforceable requirements of the individual’s role (attach the monitoring quote). Individuals will feel bound by the norm of reciprocity when given the resources, treatment, and opportunities to induce satisfaction. Furthermore, given the constraints exerted by technology, work flow, and individual skills on productivity, they frequently choose to reciprocate in the form of such citizenship behaviors such as cooperation, supportiveness of the supervisor, helping behaviors, and gestures that enhance the reputation of the work unit internal and external to the organization.
Using citizenship as a measure of performance Bateman and Organ (1983) tested the satisfaction -citizenship behavior hypothesis, and the researchers found at each time of testing a static correlation of .41 between overall satisfaction and citizenship behavior,
Smith, Organ and Near (1983) found that altruism, representing OCB gestures aimed at specific individuals correlated .31 with job satisfaction.
Puffer 1987 studied appliance salespeople whose earnings depended soley on sales commissions……..guided by the concept “pro-social behavior’ correlated .27 with a measure of satisfaction with material rewards.
Motowildo et al. surveyed the extent of prosocial behavior by nurses towards patients, colleagues and physicians. They found consistently negative correlations between self-reports of job stress and five different measures of pro-social behaviors.
Thus when we take into account what practitioners include in their concept of performance (loyalty, absence of disruptive behavior), that the empirical record provides some support for the ‘common sense’ notion that satisfaction is related to performance.
Productive but not in the conventional sense of the word. Define new productivity and say why the other is no good here (work flow, technology)
People perceiving unfairness will withhold something. But are they likely to diminish performance in terms of explicit job requirements? To do so invites potential sanctions and/or sacrifice of the incremental rewards, provided by the system, and such a tactic probably would be painful for professionals and skilled artisans whose egos and self esteem are closely bound to pride in performance. A less painful, more fleixible means of responding to perceived unfairness lies in calculated, discriminating withholding of discretionary gestures of the sort suggested by OCB. Contributions are now limited to those of a contractually binding character.
Insecurity is thought to be associated with lower morale and lower commitment among employees and may, therefore have deleterious consequences for workplace performance. (Gallie 1998 cited Cully)
Job satisfaction may also provide insight into employees’ decisions about the extent of their participation in the workplace, how hard they work, and whether or not they stay with their job. Employees were asked how satisfied or dissatisfied they were with four aspects of their working lives: * the amount of influence they have over their job, the amount of pay their receive , the sense of achievement they get from their work and the respect they get from their managers.
The lowest area of job satisfaction related to pay, with a third of employees feeling content but a higher feeling dissatisfied.
Almost half of employees say they are satisfied with their jobs.
Job influence appears to be a critical factor for explaining job satisfaction. Those with a lot of job influence were five times as likely to be satisfied with their jobs than those with no job influence.
Finally there was a very high degree of association between commitment and job satisfaction. OF those employees who voiced very high levels of commitment of the workplace, 88% were satisfied with their job overall, compared with 5% where employees had very low commitment.
Considering the costs associated with turnover, much can be gained by finding ways to increase employees’ commitment. Meyer and Allen (1991) noted, however, that focusing exclusively on turnover as a consequence of commitment is shortsighted; what employees do on the job is arguable as important as whether they stay or leave, Commitment has associations with work-relevant behaviors such as absenteeism, job performance, and citizenship behavior.
Commitment serves to maintain behavior in the absence of reward (Scholl, 1981)
Employees who are strongly committed to their organizations differ from those with weak commitment in terms of turnover, attendance at work, and job performance, and whether organizational commitment has implications for employee well-being.
Given that an employee with strong affective commitment feels emotional attachment to the organization, it follows that he or she will have greater motivation to contribute to the organization.
It is now widely recognized that some voluntary turnover is helpful, rather than harmful, to the organization in that it includes resignations from employ0ees who perform poorly or are disruptive. (Hollenbeck and Williams, 1986)
Employees with strong affective commitment were less likely than those with weak commitment to miss work for reasons that were under their own control. (Second, Hackett, Bycio, and Hausdorf 1994)
Results of several recent studies suggest that overall, employees with strong affective commitment to the organization work harder at their jobs and perform them better than those with weak commitment (Commitment)
Kim and Mauborgne 1993 found that those with strong affective commitment to the organization reported higher levels of compliance with strategic decisions made at the corporate level than did those with weaker commitment.
Numerous studies have included independent assessments of performance. In some studies, for example, affective commitment had been linked to objective indicators such as sales figures (Bashaw and Grant 1994) and the control of operational costs (DeCotiis and Summers, 1987)
For affective commitment to influence particular performance outcomes, the employee must have adequate control over the outcomes in questions
Ostroff hypothesized and found that school level teacher commitment was correlated with several independent measures of school performance. For example, teacher commitment was correlated positively with average student performance on some academic achievement tests, student attendance, and student satisfaction with their teachers and their education. Commitment was negatively correlated with school dropout rates and a measure of discipline problems within school. Interestingly, Ostroff also noted that correlations between commitment and some performance variable tended to be stronger than those reported in studies that used an individual level of analysis.
Various statistical and measurement arguments can be offered to explain this observed difference between levels of analysis. It is also possible that individual-level performance indicators typically used in commitment research, simply do not capture the more unusual measures of commitment on employee behavior, which when added together significantly improve overall organizational functional. In addition, affective commitment might prompt employees to consider and modify their contributions at work in light of their skills, preferences, and activities of their coworkers. Although this inter-dependent approach to work performance is likely to have an important impact on some measures of overall organizational performance, both by reducing redundant behavior and by helping filling gaps, it might not be reflected in traditional individual-level performance indicators. Ostroffs 1992 results suggest that the approach might be especially appropriate when examining aspects of performance in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts (team based performance, activities in which employees are highly interdependent)
Taken together, considerable evidence across a wide variety of samples and performance indicators suggests that employees with strong affective commitment to the organization will be more valuable employees than those with weak commitment.
Even small changes in employee performance can have a significant impact on the organization’s bottom line (Cascio, 1982) and as such, can help or hinder the organizations efforts to gain a competitive edge.
We must learn more about the conditions under which strong affective commitment will be most likely to influence behavior at work, and conversely, those under which the impact of commitment will be reduced.