Navigating Job Satisfaction

Workplaces come in many shapes and sizes; from small local businesses to large-scale global corporations and everything in between. Regardless of the job or size of the organization, most individuals searching for a job hold their happiness high on their needs list. There is no doubt that job satisfaction can greatly affect a persons happiness, as the average American worker spends a great deal of their time working. It is important for leaders in the workplace to understand what job satisfaction is, what contributes to job satisfaction, and how it affects their workers.

Before we can move on, it is important to know and understand what exactly job satisfaction is and what it entails. Jobs satisfaction can be defined as “a persons attitude toward his or her overall job as well as toward various aspects of the job; it is a predisposition to respond to one’s work environment in a favorable or unfavorable manner.” (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012) A person spending multiple hours of their week working wants to feel good about their work and their working environment, and employers should work to make their organizations a place where job satisfaction is high.

Some factors that contribute to job satisfaction include job characteristics and social/organizational factors. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012) Job characteristics refer to “the content and nature of job tasks themselves.” These tasks are essential to determining job satisfaction because a the work an employee is expected to complete must be personally interesting and satisfying. Work that is meaningful will make an employee more satisfied with their job. (Schneder, Gruman, Coutts, 2012) Social/organizational factors can refer a persons relationships with supervisors/coworkers and the rewards for their work (i.e. pay, promotions). When a person feels that they have equal and fair reward for their work and they maintain good social relationships with others in the workplace, they will have higher job satisfaction. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012) Overall, a person’s tasks at work, supervisor/coworker relationships, and reward greatly influence a person’s job satisfaction, and therefore are important factors for an employer to keep in mind.

This video talks about 5 factors that influence job satisfaction:

Now that we know what constitutes job satisfaction, we must understand how poor job satisfaction can affect an employee. Employee withdrawal behaviors and performance are two outcomes of poor job satisfaction. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012) Those who dislike their jobs tend to withdraw (missing work and/or quitting). These behaviors are seen as direct results of poor job satisfaction. Obviously, with low job satisfaction, employees are likely to not perform well. If a person does not see their job as “worthwhile” they will not be invested and will not be productive. (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts, 2012) Both of these behaviors (withdrawal and poor performance) are bad for employers, as it is costly to pay for employees who are not providing adequate work for their pay. However, they may be corrected with focusing on factors that increase job satisfaction. These factors give employees motivation to work and will create satisfied employees. It is important to remember that job satisfaction can affect an employees performance- whether good or bad.

As workplaces continue to grow and become more concerned with the wellbeing of their employees, it is important to remember job satisfaction- what it is, what contributes to it, and the effects of it. Job satisfaction not only benefits the employee by providing happiness and meaning, but it benefits employers by having a productive and effective workplace.


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications


  1. […] your employees don’t think that their work is worthwhile, they’re likely to miss work or leave entirely. This will cost your company precious money and time to hire and train new employees. As such, […]

  2. Job satisfaction is certainly an interesting subject and one that I am always intrigued with, given my current management role. For anyone that has been in a management capacity, job satisfaction is vital to ensuring overall efficiency and smooth operations within the business. It was interesting because the video that you had shared highlighted the same top five items that are ranked in our semi-annual company engagement survey, just in a slightly different order. When these factors are not taken into consideration, a company runs the risk or operating with a dissatisfied workforce. As you highlighted, poor job satisfaction does not just impact the dissatisfied employee either; rather, this bleeds into many different aspects of the work place. When this happens, and speaking from experience, it can be extremely difficult to clean up the mess. Sadly, some workplaces do not seem to care much about employee happiness or satisfaction, but it is obvious that they are suffering as a result.

    When an employee is dissatisfied though, it does not necessarily mean that all hope is lost. This can be good news as the cost of employee turnover can be rather significant. Mobley (1977) discussed the possibility that dissatisfaction does not necessarily equate to turnover; rather, he proposed that there are numerous steps an employee will go through prior to making the decision to leave a company. While the goal is to pull an employee from any of these steps as quickly as possible, the point is that there are multiple opportunities for a supervisor to take corrective action. However, one potential problem with this, based upon an analysis of previous research, is that job satisfaction and job performance are very weakly related (Iaffaldano & Muchinsky, 1985).

    Though I can accept the thought process behind the above finding, I cannot accept the actual outcome of the analysis. The reason is that we have all been in jobs that we disliked. Think back to those jobs, did you put forth 110% every day? I might be going out on a limb, but I would guess not. However, think about a job that you really loved, and perhaps one that you still have. Did you or do you put your best foot forward? There may be some that say no and maybe not every single day, but again, I would guess that the majority would provide a definitive yes and would at least try their best. The point being, it is extremely important to understand many of the variables that can impact employee satisfaction.

    As a final thought, job performance may actually be branching from motivation versus job satisfaction, or even a combination of the two. Perhaps some individuals are motivated solely by money and not much else. Others may be motivated by recognition and not by money. The key is, companies need to understand the value of the employee and respect that there are multiple variables that relate to employee satisfaction. In my experience, no company can succeed without a happy workforce and those that try have always failed.


    Iaffaldano, M. T., & Muchinsky, P. M. (1985). Job satisfaction and job performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 97(2), 251-273. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.97.2.251

    Mobley, W. H. (1977). Intermediate linkages in the relationship between job satisfaction and employee turnover. Journal of Applied Psychology, 62(2), 237-240. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.62.2.237

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