- 23 November 2022
- Posted by: M-author
- Category: Workplace
You spend the majority of your day at work. Whether you are a volunteer, a freelancer, an employee or the CEO, your levels of job satisfaction have an impact on how you approach it. It can also affect other factors in your life, including your physical and mental health. In this article, we explore the psychology of job satisfaction to see if there are ways for employees and employers to build it.
The Benefits of Job Satisfaction
To start with, we need to ask whether job satisfaction is important. Most of us work because we need money and we want financial security. So, if you are getting paid for what you do, surely that is enough.
Studies by business psychologists consistently show that salary isn’t enough. It helps attract and retain talent, yet we base job satisfaction on more than our pay packet. We might be delighted and motivated by our salary when we start a job, but factors including not getting an expected rise or learning that a colleague earns more can soon knock that.
Job satisfaction is most commonly found where we have the opportunity to apply our skills and strengths and realise our full potential. When this occurs, we experience personal growth and that is a strong motivating factor.
In work environments where the employees report job satisfaction, the organisation benefits from higher profits, performance, retention and loyalty. On a personal level, job satisfaction builds confidence, resilience, proactivity and self-worth. We approach other aspects of life with positivity, which enhances our well-being.
How do you Feel About your Job?
One business psychology model, developed by Herzberg is the motivation-hygiene theory, also known as the dual factor theory. Herzberg asked employees when they feel good about their job and when they felt bad about it.
When talking about when they felt good, responses centred around performance, achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility and opportunities for growth.
When talking about when they felt bad, responses centred around work conditions, supervision, salary, interpersonal relationships, company policies and administration.
Feel Good Responses
Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory groups the ‘feel good’ responses into the motivation category. These are the workplace factors that drive us to apply ourselves, to be proactive and to realise our potential. When organisations have these in place, they are likely to see higher levels of job satisfaction within their team.
The factors in the other category were labelled Hygiene. Depending on the organisation, these could either be the cause of dissatisfaction or support satisfaction. The ideal scenario is high motivation and high hygiene; where employees are motivated and have no complaints. The worst-case scenario is where both factors are low and employees are despondent and dissatisfied.
In between are the motivated yet dissatisfied. This includes those who love what they do but do not feel that they have management support, fair pay or good working conditions. Currently, this is a situation we see in the nursing profession. Equally, some have few complaints but aren’t motivated. This could include well-paid professionals who are cruising towards retirement.
Employee Personality & Choice
Herzberg’s Theory places responsibility for job satisfaction on the employer. The organisation reaps the rewards of satisfied employees, so they need to invest in factors that drive motivation and hygiene.
In 2011, N. Kumari shared his research into job satisfaction in the European Journal of Business & Management. He identified that employee personality as a factor (along with communication, leadership, company culture, job security, opportunities, recognition, career development and pay).
Some of us are more naturally driven, seeking out opportunities, keen to learn and willing to contribute. Others like to complain, to find the problems, to sit back and let others take on the lion’s share. Whilst we, as employees, may have little impact on workplace policies or the abilities of our supervisor, we do have control over our attitude and approach to work.
As employees, we also reap rewards when we feel positive about work. Our lives become more fulfilled and both physical and mental health improves.
A year later, G.P. Latham identified that employee choice was another driver of job satisfaction. In Work Motivation: History, Theory, Research and Practice he cited the benefits of giving employees a degree of freedom about how they allocate their time and energy to tasks. When we know what we need to achieve, trust us to take on responsibility and apply ourselves to do it.
The Concept of Ikigai
In Japan, the concept of Ikigai is seen as the way of achieving job satisfaction. Translated as the ‘Reason for Being’, Ikigai is about striking a balance between four factors:
· Love – what you love doing – you have an interest in and passion for the job
· Talent – where your talents lie – you have and can develop suitable skills and strengths
· Need – what the world/your community needs – you are contributing something of value
· Pay – what you are paid for your work – your work is recognised and fairly rewarded
This concept puts some responsibility for job satisfaction on our shoulders.
It encourages everyone to consider their role and proactively adjust it to increase the appeal. Can you increase the time and energy spent on the elements of your role which you enjoy by decreasing the unfavourable elements? This could include requesting training or mentoring to develop skills or spending less time around a draining colleague.
The Psychology of Job Satisfaction
As a business psychologist, I am fascinated by the factors that engage and motivate employees. The starting point for this is to understand job satisfaction and to encourage employees and employers to strive for it. This article shares just a few of the many psychological theories and research that surround the subject, but all agree that it takes more than money to feel content.