Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.
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:
- Satisfaction with Supervision: Are you receiving adequate technical help and social support? In this category, word choices available for selection concerning work supervisors range from 'supportive' and 'tactful' to 'lazy' and 'unkind.'
- Coworkers: Concerning the people you work with, do you receive respect and function well as a team? In this category, word choices available include 'stimulating,' 'smart,' 'rude' and 'frustrating.'
- Pay: Everyone would like to make more money, right? This facet is concerned with how adequate you view your pay and if you think it's equitable compared to others. Terms in the pay category range from 'adequate for normal expenses' to 'underpaid.'
- Promotion Opportunities: Chances for advancement are an important point for many of today's job seekers and employees. This question seeks answers to a worker's satisfaction with advancement opportunities, by asking for comment on a series of terms including 'good opportunities for promotion' and 'very limited.'
- The Work Itself: Ultimately, the work itself is perhaps the most important factor determining job satisfaction. The JDI wants to know how employees feel about their day-to-day responsibilities, given them terms to respond to including 'fascinating,' 'gives sense of accomplishment' and 'repetitive.'
Developed more than 50 years ago, but still in use today, the Job Descriptive Index (JDI) uses a test-like format to ask employees how satisfied they are with various areas of their work experience. The index asks for input on a number of terms related to the following areas: satisfaction with supervision, coworkers, pay, promotion opportunities and the work itself. Results are compiled and can be used to compare against national averages to determine worker satisfaction.
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