Job Descriptive Index: Measuring Job Statistics

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

How satisfied are you at your job? The Job Descriptive Index can tell you! In this lesson, you'll learn more about the index and the five facets of job satisfaction it inquires about.

Job Satisfaction

How would you answer the following question: 'Do you like your job?' Many of us are asked that by well-meaning friends and family who are either genuinely interested or trying to make conversation. But, think about it: DO you like your job?

There are many components of a job to consider when you're thinking about that question:

  • Is my work rewarding?
  • Do I like my co-workers?
  • Is my boss nice to me?
  • Am I being paid enough?

More than 50 years ago, researchers at Cornell University embarked on a journey to find out how satisfied people really were in their careers. What they developed was the Job Descriptive Index, or JDI for short. All these years later, it is the most widely used tool for measuring job satisfaction and is frequently referred to as the gold standard' of job satisfaction testing.

What Is the Job Descriptive Index

The JDI is a 72-item test, of sorts, to help measure an individual's level of job satisfaction. Researchers and workplace officials use the tool to decipher employee attitudes about various portions of the workplace. Other types of job satisfaction surveys have come and gone, but the Job Descriptive Index remains thanks to how easy it is to administer, take and decipher the results. Once the index has been completed by employees, the numbers can be compared to a sample size of workers from across the United States.

Here's how it works: Employees are asked about five dimensions of their job (which we'll discuss below) and given an opportunity to say 'yes,' 'no' or 'undecided' to descriptive terms about the workplace. After testing, each word is assessed its numerical value that reflects how well it describes a satisfying job. Items in each category are tallied and a total score is created. Let's look at the five areas the JDI index wants to know more about.

Five Dimensions of Job Satisfaction

Part of the reason the JDI is hailed as a favorite in testing employee satisfaction is for its simplicity. On the other side of the coin, some researchers have argued that it's difficult to accurately gauge job satisfaction with such a limited number of questions. Yet, the JDI remains, and is frequently updated and refined by academic and research experts to keep up with changing times. Since it first appeared, researchers have developed supplementary indexes and scales to examine other employment concerns such as stress and trust in management.

The index tests five facets of job satisfaction:

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