What is Job Satisfaction: Definition, Causes and Factors

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  • 0:05 Job Satisfaction Could…
  • 0:53 Rewards and Job Satisfaction
  • 2:26 Job Satisfaction and…
  • 4:15 How Can We Measure Job…
  • 5:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rob Wengrzyn

Rob has an MBA in management, a BS in marketing, and is a doctoral candidate in organizational theory and design.

Job satisfaction is more of a journey, not a destination, as it applies to both employees and the employer. As we will see in this lesson, there is no definitive way to measure job satisfaction or to ensure it.

Job Satisfaction Could Have Different Meanings

Did you ever think that during prehistoric times, when old Bonk the Caveman designed and fashioned the very first wheel, that his boss (or his tribe leader) gave him a reward or praise? Now, back in those days, a reward might be a new pelt or praise might be you would not get hit with a club, but the basics of job satisfaction lie in the fact that we are rewarded for the job we do.

There are many aspects to job satisfaction, depending on what each individual person feels is important. In many ways, the word 'reward' alone can mean different things to different people, and in this lesson, we are going to look at job satisfaction and its place in today's business environment. Our goal is to understand job satisfaction, or how content someone is with their job and the sense of accomplishment they get from doing it.

Rewards and Job Satisfaction

The first aspect that comes to mind when we think about causes for job satisfaction is the rewards a person gets while doing their job. Rewards can take a monetary form (money) or be a more intangible reward, like the feeling a person might get when doing a job that helps others (a nurse, for example). We can even think of a reward as the prestige you get for actually doing a job (as with a judge or other politicians).

You see, rewards are in the eyes of the beholder and are different for each person, which is why motivating a person with rewards means you must apply the correct reward to the person that is receiving it. For example, rewarding a nurse for a job well done monetarily might not be the best call (beyond paying her her salary, of course!) when a reward like a gift from her patients might be more appreciated.

In some cases, rewards can take the shape of opportunity to move up in the company. Someone working hard and wanting to get ahead in an organization might feel rewarded if they are promoted. That promotion (and the recognition that comes with it) is a means of recognizing the work the employee does and makes the employee feel better about their job and the company, thus enriching their overall job satisfaction.

One aspect of job satisfaction that is not really reward-related is job security. Let's face it - some people obtain job satisfaction from knowing the company they are in is stable and not going anywhere. There are individuals who feel this is the most important aspect of a job, and having a stable company makes them feel secure, which helps promote job satisfaction.

Job Satisfaction and Performance

The relationship between how satisfied a person is with their job and their actual job performance is open to discussion and debate. You see, it's hard to correlate those two aspects primarily because when people are asked if they get job satisfaction from working at ABC Company, a certain percentage will say yes just because they think if they say no, there could be a negative consequence. After all, if you tell your boss you are not satisfied with your job, what if his reply is 'Then I guess you better leave'? Thus, while we understand there is a correlation between satisfaction and performance, it's hard to definitively nail it down without some sort of survey error being present.

One thing is certain: There are two basic views of satisfaction and performance, and they are inverted to one another. One believes that satisfaction leads to performance, while the other believes performance leads to satisfaction. In effect, we are saying if someone is happy with their job they will perform better, but in order to be satisfied, they have to perform in their job to get that satisfaction. It is somewhat of a revolving door, and again, it is hard to distinguish between whether satisfaction drives performance or if performance drives satisfaction.

Regardless of your viewpoint, it does not take a lot of thought to realize that if someone has a high level of job satisfaction, they will probably have a high level of performance. On the other hand, if someone is not satisfied with their job, they probably will not have the same high level of performance.

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