Job Satisfaction Case Study
There remains a gap between what many human resource professionals see as practice and actual quantitative/qualitative research in the HR area. On numerous topics there is debate about facts — what is hearsay and common knowledge, and what is provable and scholarly. In a recent research study, authors Saari and Judge (2004) identified three major gaps between HR practice and scientific research, specifically in the area of employee attitudes: 1) the causes of employee attitudes, 2) the results of positive or negative job satisfaction, and 3) how to appropriately measure and influence employee attitudes.
The causes of employee attitudes- HR professionals in general understand that overriding importance of job satisfaction on employee productivity, and the general trends employees hold when approaching attitudes towards their job. However, the changing demographic and psychographic make-up of the United States means there is far more diversity in the modern workplace (ethnic, gender, education, and attitude). It now appears that there are far more cultural and situational influences on employee satisfaction, some of which are understandably difficult for the employer to control. Essentially, in order to understand the causes of employee attitudes, the actual job, work group, and organization must be well understood.
The results of positive of negative job satisfaction — Typical wisdom says that the more satisfied with the job, the more the employee will be productive. Research does not support this, largely because there is too narrow a measurement of job performance over too short a time. Instead, it appears that there is a strong correlation with how the job fits in with the person’s life, life-goals and challenges, that favors greater job satisfaction.
Measuring and influencing employee attitudes — Most HR research has been on using surveys to measure employee attitudes. Often this fails to take into account the dimensionality of the job, as well as the number of minute variables that go into decisions of this nature (supervisor, hours, interest level, pay, etc.). Research shows that a more global or holistic measurement tool is necessary to glean a complete picture. Only then can both monetary and non-monetary rewards be used effectively within the work organization.
Part 2 — Scholarly research on employee attitudes and job satisfaction does resolve some of the major issues HR professionals have. By understanding the intricacies of the specific job, one is better able to empathize and understand how that employee spends their time, to what effect they use their creative mind, and what might be done to improve productivity at the job level. Understanding the whole person, not just the person at work, is central to reducing turnover and making the job more enjoyable and productive. Finally, using these holistic measures, getting to know more than just the job side of the issue can help HR professionals look for more creative, and productive, ways to boost morale and productivity.
Part 3 – In many ways, it still seems that perceptions from individuals and groups are not really understood in terms of the workplace. Since each person brings unique skills to a specific activity, how do these skills interrelate within a group situation and how can the individual’s skills be maximized for the strategic goals of the company. Also, greater research needs to be done on ways that the macro area of the company (executives) and interface more directly with the micro (employee) area to find ways of enhancing and valuing the overall goals of the company. Closing these gaps might typically involve improving employee’s basic skill levels and sharing more information (becoming more transparent). Once these skills gaps are identified it is easier to find solutions (Huang and Li, 2010).
Huang, Y. And Li, S. (2010). Understanding quality perception gaps among executives,
Frontline employees and patients. Quality Management Health Care. 19 (2): 173-84.
Saari, L. And Judge, T. (2004). Employee Attitudes and Job Satisfaction. Human Resource
Management. 43 (4): 395-407.
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