Friday, March 28, 2008

Job Satisfaction

Job Satisfaction


The issue of Job Satisfaction, Motivation in the workplace and the role of Job Characteristics have been the cause of intensive research for many years now and have given rise to many theories, formed on the basis of extended research by psychologists, social scientists and HRD managers.

The concept of job satisfaction, though of considerably recent origin, is closely linked to motivation in the workplace and is a causal factor in improved performance in the workplace. These issues are again linked to Job Characteristics, which primarily describe the inherent features of a job, which can again motivate or demotivate workers, and whose tweaking can thus change a the inherent motivational features of the job.

During recent times an impression has been gaining ground that all is not well with the satisfaction and motivational levels of workers in British business, a fact that is also borne out to a certain extent by recent surveys.

It is the purpose of this research assignment to delve deeply into the matter and investigate all the above areas as well as linked developments. This will enable the establishment of causal relationships between these variables and possibly enable the research come up with fresh perspectives and practicable effective solutions for the improvement of worker satisfaction and national productivity.


Serial Description Page
A Introduction 3
1 Background 3
2 Statement and Significance of Research Problems 5
3 Research Questions 7
4 Purpose of Study 8
5 Limitations of Study 9
B Literature Review 10
1 Current Thinking on Employee Motivation 11
2 The Importance of Job Characteristics 18
3 Harassment in the Workplace 21
4 Effect of Use of Computers on Job Satisfaction 23
5 Improvement in Job Satisfaction 24
6 Current Levels of Job Satisfaction in the UK 28
C Research Design and Methodology 31
1 Research Statement 31
2 Choice of Analytical Approach 32
3 Choice of Information Scenario 36
4 Population and Sampling 36
5 Data Collection 37
6 Data Analysis 42
References 43

A. Introduction

1. Background

The worth of employees in the running of organizations has been analyzed and debated by management experts, sociologists and psychologists in depth and detail. A number of theories, most of them the result of painstaking and detailed research, are in use to explain human psychology in the workplace, the stressors and destressors of a working environment, and the reasons behind employee performance, or for that matter, the lack of it.

For all practical purposes, employee satisfaction is essential for corporate success and all famous leaders of corporate enterprise apparently were also exceptional leaders of men. Low attrition rates in companies is an indication of stable and employee friendly HR policy and a barometer of corporate well being. The onset of higher employee turnover brings with it indications of difficult times ahead and is considered as a serious competitive disadvantage by business and financial analysts.

The issue of job characteristics and employee satisfaction has been looked at from a number of perspectives. One view, which is followed by many, is the importance of money. A number of employers feel that in today’s multiple opportunity, flexi choice, work from home environment, money is the basic reason for a person to take up a job, furthermore that people work only for money. Companies that pay more usually get the most applications be it at college graduation time for new entrants to the work force, or later on for mid career shifts for middle and senior people. This school of thought feels very strongly that employees join organizations, work and leave only for monetary considerations and all other reasons, which involve non-monetary factors like challenging assignments, caring environments, recognition and open communication channels are nothing more than idle talk and blandishment, meant to cover up the stigma associated with behaviour that is mercenary and devoid of any other so called redeeming features.

There are again many management experts and HRD specialists who feel that the theory of money being the only real choice in an employment choice in a free market situation has many serious limitations and indeed is deeply flawed. These experts feel that while money is an important factor in the contemplation of an employment decision there are a number of other factors, which also influence such choices.

The truth is far more complex and while the cynical continue to believe in the overwhelming supremacy of money, in its power to buy happiness and satisfaction, be it in personal life or the workplace, a number of management thinkers, social scientists and corporate managers feel otherwise, advocating and using distinctly different HR philosophies and policies.

These include the understanding of need hierarchies like Abraham Maslow’s theory of needs and Clayton Alderfer’s ERG theory of motivation, the thinking of Herzeberger and McClelland and the various theories of goal setting and motivational processes. A number of organizations base their HR practces upon an understanding of these various theories and their adaptation to the business environment. Another variable which has come to occupy a permanent factor in HR policy making is employee reaction to the comparatively new practice of having to spend a significant part of working time in front of laptops and computer screens, be it any job profile, such is the pervasiveness of Information Technology in all areas of corporate life.

In the UK the ocurrence of bullying in the workplace has been drawing the attention of corporate managements and sociologists for the last few years. It is today thought to be one of the main causes of stress in the workplace and results in a number of adverse effects upon the physical and mental well being of employees and is a perceived job characteristic in a number of workplaces.

It is an undeniable fact that the future of business enterprise depends upon the satisfaction level of its workforce. Dissatisfied workforces cause immediate problems only to their particular busineses. However, if these problems are left inadequately attended they have a tendency to spiral out including other businesses, industries and regions harming relationships, productivity, profits and finally also the creation of national wealth.

2. Statement and Significance of Research Problems

Employee satisfaction is thought to be one of the primary requirements of a well run organization and considered an imperative by all corporate managements. The last five years of globalisation, the rise of the Chinese economy as the world’s cheapest manufacturing destination, the gradual pervasiveness of the internet and the emergence of outsourcing on a global scale have shaken up years of corporate practices in both manufacturing and service sectors of the economy.

The challenges faced by HR departments have accordingly increased manifold as businesses try to adjust and to and use the new economic realities to their advantage. In the UK the shift from manufacturing to service has resulted in the a huge change in the nature of skills required and available and the country has made rapid progress to becoming a high end service economy, home to top class skills in many service areas, notably finance, investments and banking. The shift in the nature of jobs has also led to a change in job characteristics and in the functional tools used for carrying out jobs.

There has been a good deal of expression of concern about the lesser than desired rate of growth of the British economy and whether the levels of job satisfaction as also the appropriateness of particular workers for specific functions could have a bearing on the total economic performance of the country. The various characteristics of particular jobs play a major role in providing job satisfaction to the worker. It has always been accepted that job satisfaction leads to the generation of company loyalty and lower satisfaction levels lead to attrition and higher turnover.

It can thus well be that job satisfaction levels could be an area where improvement of conditions could result in benefits for the national economy.

The following issues are thus significant in definition of the problem

• Organisational growth needs an exposition of dissatisfiers in the workplace

• Placement of right personnel in appropriate positions is necessary for optimising performance

• Dissatisfied employees are unlikely to perform well at their jobs

• Communication between management and employees, articulation of job characteristics that improve motivation and implementation of measures to introduce necessary job characteristics will help in increasing employee performance

3. Research Questions

The appropriate way to conduct this specific research assignment would be to start with the framing of a set of research questions that would determine the general direction of this research effort. The research questions are now defined as follows.

• Do job characteristics have any bearing on the job satisfaction levels experienced by workers?

• Does job satisfaction result in better corporate performance?

• What are the reasons that result in job satisfaction in the corporate workplace?

• What could be the stressors and demotivators, both external and internal which, when perceived as job characteristics could lead to lower levels of job satisfaction?

• What could be possible motivators that could result in increased levels of job satisfaction?

• Has the ubiquitous and ever increasing presence of IT and the internet changed the job characteristics and the levels of job satisfaction in the workplace?

• Is harassment in the workplace a cause of dissatisfaction and demotivation?

• Have recent international developments in business and economics affected levels of job satisfaction in the UK?

• Is the situation regarding satisfaction at the workplace worrying in the national context?

4. Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study is to take up the issue of job characteristics and job satisfaction in the workplace, with particular reference to business organizations in the UK, examine the various components of job satisfaction, the general working conditions, employment policies and employee responses as also available statistical data to determine whether, by and large workers in the UK are happy with their working conditions or not.

In particular the study will focus on the diverse personal goals which workers hope to satisfy in the workplace, determine whether issues like feedback, autonomy and variety will influence their levels of satisfaction and involvement, locate measures to find out employees with higher or lower levels of involvement as also the need for an employee to be satisfied and motivated to perform well and focus on job characteristics that bring out the best in workers.

The study will further attempt to study and analyse whether practical and possible changes can be made in the working environment of business organisations in the UK to improve workplace satisfaction and thereby also improve productivity of work leading to long term benefits to the national economy.

The researcher hopes to carry out a broad based and in depth study that will throw up fresh and interesting perspectives to the issue and try to arrive at and provide logical and practical solutions and recommendations that could definitely help in helping productivity in the workplace.

5. Limitations of Study

The study is to a certain extent limited by the vastness of the canvas and the time available with the researcher for this assignment.

Job satisfaction is an extensive subject and detailed work has been carried out in the area. The researcher has cited a number of secondary sources in the text of the assignment, available with the researcher as well as with other data banks and on line libraries available with the researcher all of which are listed in the alphabetically arranged bibliography. Apart from secondary sources, primary sources from company websites, employer establishments and workers have also been used for the purpose of this research

The issue has multiple perspectives, evidenced by the large number of theories that abound on the subject and the enormous literature available. It thus requires enormous perspicacity and a judicious use of literature and primary information sources to carry out a planned investigation on the subject.

While sincere efforts have been made to examine the issue from different perspectives the availability of more time would have possibly thrown up more perspectives and a larger primary information sample leading to more accurate analysis and qualitatively superior solutions.

B. Literature Review

This research assignment makes substantial use of secondary material in the form of texts, journals and magazine articles as well as internet sources for purposes of data availability, analysis and investigation. Online libraries like Questia and other databanks available to the researcher like and Edward de Bono’s regularly mailed literature have also been liberally used. All sources used, cited in text or not have been arranged in the bibliography. The researcher prefers to take up topics for discussion sequentially and use inputs from a number of sources rather than deal with the sources and their authors separately for the sake of logical progression of ideas and cohesion of thought.

Job satisfaction, its causal factors and its effect upon organisational health are all part of the various factors under study for this assignment. Job satisfaction for an individual can be influenced by a number of factors that include first the job itself, the salary, the promotion policy of the company, the attitudes of the co workers, the physical and mental stress levels involved, the working conditions, the interest and challenge levels. These various factors are just indicative of the many factors that contribute or take away from job satisfaction. Sometimes, even changing the colout of the furniture fabric can lead to higher levels of job satisfaction. While job satisfaction is not quite the same as motivation the two are closely linked and many times motivating actions also increase satisfaction levels. Most organisations periodically measure job satisfaction among employees through mainly quantitative techniques usng rating scales.

Numerous research studies on job satisfaction and reasons thereof have, as the following excerpts shows, ended in a number of very interesting findings, We view job satisfaction as emerging from a variety of factors, including characteristics of the organizational environment, specific features of the job, and the personal characteristics of the worker. Higher job satisfaction has been linked with employees who are able to exercise autonomy (Sekaran 1989) and with those who have a higher level of job involvement (Mortimer and Lorence 1989). Women have been found to report significantly higher job satisfaction than men (Hull 1999; Sousa-Poza and Sousa-Poza 2000), although this gender gap appears to be narrowing (Rose 2005). Some researchers have noted that older workers tend to have a higher level of job satisfaction, although a number of studies have shown that the age variable might be more a proxy for experience (Janson and Martin 1982; Kalleberg and Loscocco 1983; Brush, Moch et al. 1987). Older workers also tend to be situated in higher-level positions, which might be more fulfilling than the less exciting entry-level positions of those just entering the work (Danziger and Dunkle, 2005)

The researcher intends to commence the Literature review of the subject issue with a discussion on current thinking on motivation and job satisfaction and then move to allied topics like the use of IT in work places, the problems associated with bullying in the workplace and how tweaking of job characteristics can increase motivation in the workplace, inorder to get a firmer handle on the many perplexing variables.

1. Current Thinking in Employee Motivation

Any discourse in workplace satisfaction and employee motivation needs to necessarily start with Maslow’s theory of hierarchical needs. Abraham Maslow proposed his hierarchical theory of five important needs more than 60 years back, in 1943. The theory gained ground over the years and because of its innate logic became widely accepted and part of compulsory reading for every management student and HR professional. Over the years it has been questioned, analysed and thought by later thinkers to be inadequate in certain respects but there is no denying its basic merit in understanding human and employee behaviour in the workplace. His basic premise concerns the meeting of human needs which progressively move up the value chain as simpler and more basic needs are met. Maslow’s theory opines that humans have five progressive sets of needs, the first set being purely physical needs, also called physiological needs. These include all the needs a person needs just to stay alive like food, water, air, the maintenance of body temperature and the necessity of voiding of natural human waste. It is only when this basic need set is satisfied that the next set of needs will be thought of for satisfaction.

The five need sets are in sequential order are physiological needs, safety and security needs, love and belonging needs, status and prestige needs and actualisation needs. Humans work to satisfy these needs and as people and societies move up in life their need sets also change. This is true of all people situations, individually, in progressively larger groups and could apply to whole countries as well. Growth of the individual or group causes the needs to shift upwards whereas the opposite cause a downward movement in need fulfilment desire. The other need sets can of course be broken up further, similar to what was shown for physiological needs. Thus safety needs can be broken up into physical safety, family security, monetary security and employment security and love and belonging needs can be broken up into parental love, love between partners, siblings and children. It is easy to understand why these needs were classified as hierarchical, with physiological needs at the base and actualisation needs at the apex of a hierarchical pyramid.

Using this classification Maslow reasons that as a person moves up in life his needs change and if a person is unable to access needs appropriate to him he will basically be dissatisfied, even though he may not know it. Once a person has fulfilled his physiological, safety and status needs s/he works first for status and then for actualisation. While the status need remains perfectly logical there are many who think of the need for actualisation quite trite and little more than hyperbole. Maslow went on to add three more needs to his original five.

Between esteem and self-actualization needs was added Need to know and understand, which explains the cognitive need of the academic The need for aesthetic beauty, which is the emotional need of the artist Self-actualization was divided into Self-actualization, which is realizing one's own potential, as above. Transcendence, which is helping others to achieve their potential (Maslow’s Hierarchy, 2006) A number of opinions have been voiced on the limitations of Maslow’s theory and the need to look at the issue from multiple perspectives before accepting a particular position.

Maslow's model of human needs is also more true of men's/boys' lives than women's/girls'. Theories such as Maslow's, contribute to inequities when they become a dominant view posing as truth or portraying reality when alternate theories and critiques of theories are disregarded. Such a treatment of theories can contribute to cultural as well as gender inequities. A white, western male viewpoint evidenced in many psycho social theories cannot help us understand other cultures. For instance, Maslow and Kohlberg may not help us to understand Asian, Indian, and First Nations' values regarding moral decision making or hierarchy of needs. Any differences between or within cultures are silenced by considering only one view. When one view dominates, people's experiences that do not fit the model are silenced. (Peterat and Fairbanks, 1993)

Clayton Alderfer revised Maslow’s theory of needs, simplifying it to make it more in tune with data obtained from empirical research. He kept Maslow’s hierarchical structure but reduced the levels to three on the basis that a certain overlap existed in the middle layers and called them Existence, Relatedness and Growth, in short ERG. The Existence needs constituted of physiological and safety needs whereas internal esteem and social needs made up the Relatedness level. The top of the hierarchy, called the growth needs were again broken up into self actualisation and external esteem needs. This modification of Maslow’s theory was made public in 1969 and was accepted by many as a logical and tested evolution of Maslow’s theory. There is little to choose between the two theories except that while Maslow sees the progression of needs as strictly hierarchical, the proponents of the ERG theory see different needs from different levels existing in a sort of continuum where while there is a hazy precedence for a lower level need, it can still very well exist in the presence of a higher level need.

Frederick Herzberg, in 1966, published an article stipulating that two groups of factors ultimately led to job satisfaction and motivation in the work place. Called the two factor theory, Herzberg’s postulates stipulated that certain “Hygiene” factors needed to be present in the workplace to prevent dissatisfaction among employees. These factors were in the nature of basic needs when a person worked and comprised of issues like the job, company, salary, status, security, working conditions, quality of supervision, company policies and administration and interpersonal relations. These were necessary for job satisfaction but not for motivation and their absence would result in dissatisfaction for the employee. Their presence ensures that employees feel encouraged to join as well as to stay on and while not direct motivators do work in preventing demotivation.

The “Motivation” factors are intrinsic to the job content and consist of factors like achievement, recognition, responsibilities, interest in the job, advancement to higher levels and growth. The presence of these factors in an employment situation motivate workers to try for superior performances; their absence may not demotivate them if hygiene factors are strong enough but will not spur them to extraordinary effort levels. Job situations will normally have combinations of motivation and hygiene factors. The ideal situation would of course be a combination of high motivation and high hygiene factors which is present in very few situations. Similarly the worst scenario of low hygiene and low motivation factors is rare as it would result in demotivated and dissatisfied employees and migration of the work force at the first opportunity. There are a number of companies which have grown over long periods of time with the gradual evolution of hygiene factors whereas rigid rules and bureaucratisation have eliminated or substantially curtailed the motivation factors. In these companies employees stick on for interminable periods getting all benefits but without any incentive to work. On the other hand exciting start ups provide high motivation factors but lesser hygiene elements as the company makes its way towards achieving its goals. In such situations employees will stay on with the company and wait for their aspirations to come true with corresponding improvements in hygiene conditions. Besides the two factor theory, Herzberg is also quite well known for his KITA theory, an acronym for “a kick in the ….” Herzberg feels that the KITA, basically a sign of employer frustration does not really work effectively and ends up in movement rather than real motivation.

David McClelland, an American behavioural psychologist who taught at Harvard and Boston, in his book on “The Achieving Society” in 1961 wrote of three basic human needs which motivated people to strive and succeed. These were the need for achievement, N-Ach, the need for power, N-Pow, and the need for affiliation, N-Aff. These need level would vary from individual to individual and again from society to society. It was inconceivable that each individual would have the same levels for all three needs, which would vary with the background, society, culture and education of the individual.

McClelland’s theory came to be known as the three need theory and is also referred to as the learned needs theory as it stipulates that most of these needs are shaped over time and depend upon the experiences of the particular individual. The results at the workplace depend upon a proper matching of job requirements and putting in a person with high achievement needs in a slot ideal for a person with high affiliation needs is going to result in a mismatch and possible underperformance. People with high affiliation needs, for example, will be ideally suited in co-operative and people environments and tend to do very well in customer service and public relations.

The process approach in motivation works on the reasons, how and why people choose certain behaviour to achieve their personal goals. Process theories define in terms of a rational cognitive process and focus on external influences or behaviour that people choose to meet their needs. The two process theories are Vroom’s expectancy model and Adam’s equity theory.

Victor Vroom, in 1964, stipulated in his theory of expectancy that The force motivating a person to exert effort or to perform an act in a job situation depends on the interaction between what the individual wants from a job (valence) and the degree to which he/she believes that the company will reward effort exerted (expectancy) on that job with the things he/she wants. Individuals believe that if they behave in a certain way (instrumentality), they will receive certain job features (Vroom, 1982) Vroom, examines the motivation behind why people choose a certain course of action and writes of three variables, Valence, Expectancy and Instrumentality, which are significant in this context.

• Valence is described as the importance an individual places upon the expected outcome of a situation.

• Expectancy can be said to be the intrinsic belief that output from the individual is linked to the success of the situation

• Instrumentality is the conviction that the success of the situation is linked to the expected outcome of the situation

In the Equity theory Adams argues the people are motivated by inequity and keep on comparing their efforts with that put in by others around them in the workplace as also the rewards being meted out o them.

Equity is likened to a perception of fairness involved between efforts and rewards given to co workers in the workplace. A fair situation where all employees are treated equally obviously envisages similar outcomes for similar inputs and if some employees feel that others are being given higher rewards for similar work they will obviously hold back some of their efforts. An employee putting in hard work may see an inefficient and unproductive colleague being rewarded with the same salary and would probably feel demotivated to put in the same level of work continuously. Motivation is thus very difficult without the establishment of fairness in the appraisal and reward process.

2. The Importance of Job Characteristics

A proper understanding of Job Characteristics and its application for increasing employee motivation is one of the major objectives of this research assignment.

Hackman and Oldham (1976) originally proposed their Job Characteristics Theory as a three-stage model, in which a set of core job characteristics impact a number of critical psychological states, which, in turn, influence a set of affective and motivational outcomes. The five actors that make up the first stage are as under.

• Skill Variety: Employees use a variety of skills to complete their jobs, skills that have been acquired by long years of study and/ or experience and are the primary reason for their employment and work allocation in a business organisation.

• Task identity: Involvement of the worker in all steps of the job, thus providing identification with the task

• Task Significance: The significance of the job being properly executed to the well being of the organisation

• Autonomy: The freedom to do the job with responsibility and by oneself

• Feedback: The provision of feedback providing information about the excellence of performance of the job

In the second stage , the first three characteristics together provide meaningfulness of the work to the employee, autonomy provides responsibility for carrying out the assigned work, and feedback provides the worker with knowledge about the results of the work. All together, in the third stage of the process, they help in motivation and performance optimization.

Research on the job characteristics model has found relations between employee perceptions of specific core characteristics inherent in the job's design -- skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback from the job itself -- and employee intrinsic job motivation and satisfaction with the job itself. A job that possesses higher levels of these core characteristics is higher in motivating potential. This relation between job characteristics and employee motivation is moderated by the employee's growth-need strength (i.e., the degree to which achievement of one's potential, personal growth, and skill mastery are important to an individual). The relation between the presence of high levels of the core job characteristics and motivation on the job is stronger for individuals who have strong growth needs. The job characteristics model provides a conceptual framework for improving the amount of motivating potential inherent in the design of the job through increasing skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback from the task itself. (Catanzaro, 1997, p. 85)

Proponents of the job characteristics model feel that proper enhancement of core characteristics will automatically be causal in improving motivation and satisfaction levels inherent in the job

3. Harassment in the Workplace

It is estimated that as many as 8-10% of European employees may suffer from exposure to bullying and harassment at work. It prevails in both private and public organisations and finds its victims among men and women alike. Studies also show that exposure to bullying at work is a severe source of stress at work and may be a crippling and devastating problem for those exposed.

A victim of bullying at work seems to produce severe emotional reactions such as fear, anxiety, helplessness, depression and shock. It appears to alter the victims’ perceptions of their work-environment to one of threat, danger, insecurity, and self-questioning, which may result in pervasive emotional, psychosomatic and psychiatric problems.

Moral harassment also has negative effects on the organisation and lowers productivity in the workplace.

Bullying refers to all situations where one or more people feel subjected to negative behaviour from others at work over a period of time and in situations where, for different reasons, they are unable to defend themselves against these actions. Typically, a victim is constantly teased, pursued, and insulted and perceives that he or she has little recourse to retaliate in kind. We may distinguish between work-related bullying such as being exposed to unreasonable deadlines, unmanageable workloads or other kinds of behaviour that make the work situation difficult for the victim, and bullying that is primarily related to the person, such as insulting remarks, excessive teasing, gossip and rumours, social isolation and exclusion. This kind of behaviour is common and has been experienced by most people at work from time to time.

In actual fact workplace harassment is an omnibus list of unfair and uncalled for persecution in the workplace that can take many forms in its expression and execution. It is not limited to sexual harassment, per se, though sexual harassment is a major component of the harassment that goes on in offices and other establishments, world wide. It could relate to and be caused because of sex, religion, creed, ethnicity, physical appearance or just plain dislike. It is a form of offensive treatment or behaviour, which to a reasonable person creates an intimidating, hostile or abusive work environment. It may be sexual, racial, based on gender, national origin, age, disability, religion or a person's sexual orientation. It may also encompass other forms of hostile, intimidating, threatening, humiliating or violent behaviour, which are offensive or intimidatory in nature.

Some examples of behaviour, which can be said to definitely constitute moral harassment, are as follows:

the unwelcome touching of a personal nature, which can encompass leaning over, cornering or pinching; sexual innuendos, teasing and other sexual talk such as jokes, personal inquiries, persistent unwanted courting and sexist put-downs; Slurs and jokes about a class of persons, such as persons who are disabled, homosexual or a racial minority; display of explicit or offensive calendars, posters, pictures, drawings or cartoons which reflect disparagingly upon a class of persons or a particular person; derogatory remarks about a person's national origin, race, language, accent; disparaging or disrespectful comments even if unrelated to a person's race, colour, gender, national origin, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation; or Loud, angry outbursts or obscenities directed toward another employee, student, customer, contractor, or visitor in the workplace. (Harassment Policy, 2004)

Even the detailed list of examples of harassment is not exhaustive and perpetrators can constantly think up new ways of tormenting their victims. Harassment can occur in numerous ways, some of which will be obvious but there will be others, quite subtle and difficult to explain. Further examples of harassment are the withholding of information which can affect the victim’s performance, ignoring views and opinions, setting unreasonable/impossible deadlines, giving unmanageable workloads, humiliating staff in front of others, being shouted at or being the target of spontaneous rage. As such, harassment can take various shapes and forms and can manifest itself in the unlikeliest of situations.

There has been extensive research work and study on the issue, some of which reveal that while bullying is a very real problem for a large number of people at work, the extent of bullying appears to be a particular problem in some sectors, “For example, a nationwide study of staff in the NHS found that three in five people have witnessed bullying at work in the past two years.” (Unison, 2003) Reports suggest that it is becoming increasingly common the education, police and voluntary sectors. “A survey carried out by Staffordshire University in 1997 found that two thirds of members had experienced or witnessed bullying”. (Unison, 2003)

4. The Effect of IT on Job Satisfaction

The rapid pervasiveness of the internet and in sophistication of IT technology has led to its proliferation in the workplace with this development changing in many ways job characteristics in numerous jobs across the spectrum of manufacturing and service industries. The use of IT is now commonplace in industries, which did not have much use for it before, like for example, restaurants, schools, advertising agencies, smaller hotels and department stores, bringing with it newer expectations and resulting in change of job characteristics, with possible effects on both satisfaction and motivation levels. James Danziger and Debora Dunkle carried out research in 2005 on Information Technology and Worker Satisfaction for the University of California, Irvine wherein they surveyed 1200 households in California, where members of the sample group were using computers for more than five hours a day, to address the core question, “ To what extent does reliance on computers for performing one’s job affect the level of satisfaction with the job?”

The researchers focused on the inherent job characteristics of workers who regularly use computers and with questionnaires, interviews and regression analysis concluded that the use of computers was not really helping job satisfaction at all and the reverse may well be true. In their findings they state as follows.

For those involved in increasingly computer-dependent work, there is evidence here of possible negative influences on generalized job satisfaction. While job satisfaction is positively associated with feelings of autonomy and influence on the job and with coworkers, job satisfaction decreases with an increase in the number of hours the worker is directly using the computer, As one might expect, time pressures on the job also have a dampening effect on job satisfaction. This juxtaposition brings into focus the balancing of policy and practices within an organization with the intrinsic outputs of a job. In this instance, an integral part of the job of many of the workers in the sample, namely the heavy use of computer technology is associated with lower levels of job satisfaction but these can be at least partially mitigated by policy measures involving job enrichment and empowerment, which are positively associated with job satisfaction. (Danziger and Dunkle, 2005)

The researcher feels that the use of computers for extensive hours on a daily basis by employees across the spectrum on a daily basis and the physical stressors which it inevitably creates, eye fatigue, posture pain, unending work and the tyranny of the machine end up in negatively influencing job satisfaction and in creating an atmosphere where the worker can not wait to get away from the screen.

5. Improvement of Job Satisfaction

Every business enterprise wishes to continuously improve the job satisfaction levels of employees as much as possible within their particular constraint and resource allowance. As can be seen from the number of theories, illustrations and conditions, most of which are extremely fluid, there appear to be numerous motivator and demotivators that can improve or reduce satisfaction levels and thereby hurt both motivation and performance.

The measures listed below, culled from all the information available with the researcher from a review of existing literature distils and concentrates current expert and management thinking on improvement of job satisfaction.

• A proper salary and reward system that is beneficial to employees, eminently fair, impartial towards gender or ethnicity and which promises rewards, in terms of money and career progression is the first and foremost requirement for ensuring job satisfaction in the workplace.

• The provision of a workplace which is co operative and where employees are cherished and wanted is essential for job satisfaction. This requirement is omnibus in many ways and includes the prevention of harassment, involvement of employees in real goal setting, planning, and problem solving, showing respect for diverse ideas and opinions, giving and taking honest and constructive feedback, arranging for mentoring facilities, and sharing as much information as possible with employees

• An atmosphere at work that continuously works towards employee progression and advancement, in skills and responsibilities, by way of using the full range of employee knowledge and skills by providing opportunities for challenging assignments, considering reassignments so that employee strengths align with position requirements, providing meaningful work with restructuring of positions if necessary and possible, providing public recognition of efforts and achievements, giving employees additional responsibilities and the freedom to take action, explaining why assignments are important to the accomplishment, providing opportunities to learn new things and supporting developmental assignments and on-the-job training.

Theorists such as Turner and Lawrence (1965), Hackman and Oldham (1975,1980), Szilogyi and Keller (1976), among others have proposed that intrinsically, satisfying jobs are those where there is variety, where workers have autonomy in choosing procedures, where feedback is received concerning the effectiveness and work impact, where the work has some social significance or makes an important contribution to a product or services.

The key task characteristics are as follows

• Task Importance: The perceived importance of the task performed in a job is expected to correlate positively with overall satisfaction with the job (Hackman and Oldman, 1975, 1980)

• Level of supervision on the task: A task that is not closely supervised is likely to give sense of autonomy and personal accomplishment to the worker. This therefore means that freedom from supervision should be positively correlated with job satisfaction (Turner and Lawrence, 1965).

• Task complexity: A complex task engages more skills and abilities, it is more challenging and therefore, it’s expected to contribute to job satisfaction (Schwab and Cummings, 1976).

• Level of concentration required on the task: These mental demands required by a task be expected to relate positively to job satisfaction (Csiks Zeutmihalyi, 1975)

• Time: This has to do with the amount of tasks spent in performing a task. One would expect that a task that takes a great deal of the work day will have a greater impact on satisfaction with the work itself. (Schriber and Crutek 1987).

The following facts, garnered from a reading of the literature available on the subject of job satisfaction emphasise further the amount of complexity in an area which basically deals with human psychology and responses that are at points of time extremely contradictory. In a survey on job involvement of workers in West Africa, Nigerian workers were being focused. Akinnusi (1983) stumbled on a finding, which indicated that Nigerian workers were not fanatical about their jobs after all. However, even though work did not provide any major satisfaction for about 40% of his respondents, they still showed a high sense of commitment in certain areas such as in attempting to show up for work early and in being depressed about failure in their work.

Lornem (1983) in viewing performance and job satisfaction stated that, although it was difficult to link good performance with satisfaction, if everything were equal, satisfied workers who are less exposed frustrating situations should be expected to have a better performance. He further stated that having workers who are not frustrated in a work environment is certainly more desirable than having those that may create trouble for themselves and others as a result of their dissatisfaction with their jobs.

In research carried out by Dunham, Aldag and Briff (1977) on job dimension, for example the only way for variety to be realised in jobs might be through the exercise of autonomy.

Earley et al (1990) also suggested that feedback allows individuals to compare their behaviour to goals and also to determine whether to adjust their actions or their goals. They found that feedback on the process of performing a task enhance performance by serving as a cueing device to aid the development of information search and task strategy. This also means that feedback on one’s performance would be expected to have little effect on one’s subsequent performance if one could not alter the pattern of responding in order to correct prior deficits. On the other hand, having the ability to change one’s performance, behaviour provides little advantage in the absence of useful feedback about different performance attempts. These lines of research make a convincing argument for an interaction between autonomy and feedback.

If we look at the issue in totality and try to make sense of the plethora of information it does appear that there is definitely a theoretical and empirical basis for framing an hypothesis that job characteristics definitely interact with each other to cause worker responses. In particular a combination of autonomy, variety and feedback work together and are able to increase job satisfaction and with it positively impact performance.

6. Current Levels of Job Satisfaction in the UK

A number of surveys have been conducted in the recent past on levels of job satisfaction in the UK.

The results of two surveys carried out in recent times are discussed here as part of the literature review to understand the current position with respect to job satisfaction.

The Work Foundation carried out a survey in 2006 on Job Satisfaction and their results showed the following.

• 60 per cent said their satisfaction with work had increased, 31 per cent felt it had gone down, and 8 per cent said it had stayed the same.

• 78 per cent said they found their work 'stimulating and challenging' (55 per cent agreeing strongly with this statement) and 69 per cent said their work was a 'source of personal fulfilment'.

• 86 per cent did not agree with the statement 'I regard my work as meaningless' with only nine per cent saying they agreed (the remainder did not express a view).

• Just over half (51 per cent) said their work was 'a means to an end'. People with lower pay and lower skills tended to be less satisfied with their jobs.

• Over three-quarters of respondents describe themselves as 'very satisfied' (35 per cent) or 'quite satisfied' (43 per cent) with their current jobs; 10 per cent were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied; 6 per cent were 'quite dissatisfied'; and 5 per cent very dissatisfied.

• Women are slightly more likely to be satisfied with their job compared to men

• The over-55s are more likely to be satisfied with their job compared to younger workers, especially those aged 16-34 years.

• Managers and professionals are more likely to be satisfied compared with other occupational groups.

• People earning over £50 000 per year are more likely to be satisfied than those earning less.

(Job Satisfaction in the UK, 2006)

Mercer Human Resource Consulting carried out research on job satisfaction in 2005.

The results of Mercer’s What’s Working Survey are based on data collected from a survey of 1,119 working adults in Britain representing a broad cross-section of industries. Respondents completed a survey about their perceptions of their job, organisation, work environment, compensation, benefits and the management of their organisation. The weighted survey results are representative of the entire British workforce and individual industry sectors. (UK job satisfaction and commitment on the decline, 2005)

The key findings from their report show that compared to a similar survey carried out in 2002, the current survey showed declines in a number of factors affecting job satisfaction. The figures indicated below are taken from the report stated above.

• Less than two-thirds of employees (64%) are satisfied with their jobs. This figure represents a reduction of 10% since the survey was conducted three years ago.

• Furthermore, fewer than 6 in 10 employees (59%) feel a strong sense of commitment to their organisation – a 5% decline since 2002.

• Just 6 in 10 employees (60%) are proud to work for their organisation while only 65% believe they have a long-term future with their current employer

• Just half of the survey respondents (50%) thought managers understood the problems facing employees in their jobs.

• Fewer than half the respondents (46%) felt encouraged to come up with new and better ways of doing things.

Both the surveys, conducted by the Work Foundation and Mercer Consulting do show that a substantial amount of effort will still be needed to improve job satisfaction in the workplace. The results obtained by Mercer have the advantage of being from the second survey and provide the possibility of comparison with results obtained three years ago. While respondents of the survey carried out by the Work Foundation specify that specific parameters like involvement or satisfaction have improved or reduced there is no benchmark made available to the reader to determine the timeframe in which the change took place.

In totality the surveys put forward some rather disquieting results. In parameters related to job satisfaction, commitment to organisation, internal communication and desire for innovation, the figures give matter for grave concern and need thought and corrective action.

C. Research Design and Methods

This research assignment attempts to find the best solution to the problems undertaken for this assignment, namely the impact of job characteristics and various other motivational and environmental factors, present in the current working scenario in the UK, on levels of job satisfaction and motivation, as also on corporate and business performance at the individual business level and at the national level.

1. Research Statements

The research design and methodology for a particular assignment depends, to a great deal, upon the nature of the research assignment and the objectives of the research. It is essential, at the beginning of the exercise to lay down the research statements, which have emerged from the review of literature and materials available, on the issue under investigation.

The research statements, for this exercise, are as follows.

• Job satisfaction and motivation at work are two inter related issues which strongly influence employee performance at the workplace

• There are a number of theories on best ways to motivate employees and increase their levels of job satisfaction

• Most organisations use an amalgam of these theories and customise their application for micro level application.

• Job characteristics are inherent features of the job which if modified appropriately can enhance motivation

• A number of other factors, current today, like usage of IT at the workplace and the presence of bullying at work have significant effects upon job satisfaction and motivation

• Employees who receive a good amount of feedback experience greater job satisfaction than employees who receive lesser feedback.

• Employees who prefer autonomy are more involved in their jobs compared to employees who do not prefer autonomy at work.

• Regular feedback leads to more job involvement

• Employees who prefer autonomy are more satisfied with their jobs.

2. Choice of Analytical Approach

The issue at hand deals with a particular problem in a business area spread over many companies in a large geographical region, more specifically the causal factors behind the current levels of job satisfaction in business organisations in the UK

The issue deals with very complex issues involving human psychology, group dynamics and the economics of business organisations and the canvas for research is extensive. In this scenario the estimation of a population sample that will be representative of the population to provide for accurate results may well be difficult.

The amount of literature available on job satisfaction, motivation, workplace motivators and demotivators is extensive and apart from literature, texts and journals also include surveys carried out recently in the UK on a number of issues that are relevant to the subject under investigation.

The appropriate research methodology for the purpose of this assignment needs to take care of the discussed facts and tailored accordingly.

An article on “Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Methods in Social Marketing Research” by Nedra Kline Weinrich, first published in 1996 details a methodology, wherein a balanced and well thought out mix of quantitative and qualitative research techniques could well be the most appropriate methodology for conducting this assignment

An examination of the quantitative and qualitative paradigms will help to identify their strengths and weaknesses and how their divergent approaches can complement each other. In most cases, researchers fall into one of the two camps, either relying exclusively upon "objective" survey questionnaires and statistical analyses and eschewing warm and fuzzy qualitative methods, or using only qualitative methodologies, rejecting the quantitative approach as decontextualizing human behaviour. However, it is widely accepted that each approach has positive attributes and that combining different methods, if handled properly, can result in the best of both techniques. (Weinrich, 1996)

Research techniques used for quantitative analysis aim to achieve objective results and eschew subjective interpretation. The respondents are generally selected through random sampling in a statistical manner aimed at achieving a response from the selected sample, which will be representative of the total population. The research methodology pays much greater stress on the technique used and the basic premise on which the technique rests assumes that the quality of the researcher is independent of the results, his or her function being restricted to the following of guidelines. Weinrich postulates that while this technique is effective in a number of cases and is also widely used, it suffers from an inherent danger of missing out on the finer nuances of an investigation and frequently leads to misleading results that are not supported by the future behaviour of the population that had been investigated. As such, while this mode of research may be statistically sound , it could also be the reason behind the oft quoted truth “lies, damned lies and statistics”

Qualitative research methods are vastly different and concentrate on working with smaller groups known as focus groups. These focus groups are selected with great care but later subjected to intensive questioning and interviewing by trained researchers who are very well versed in qualitative techniques. It is the job of these researchers to ensure that their respondents are able to provide them with subjective and interpretative data, which would have never come out with quantitative techniques. The information tends to be much more detailed, full of nuances and give the investigation a holistic result, which is invaluable in assessing outcomes.

There are a number of researchers who believe that qualitative and quantitative research are but two sides of the same coin and members of the same continuum.

Qualitative and quantitative research has philosophical roots in the naturalistic and the positivistic philosophies, respectively. Virtually all qualitative researchers, regardless of their theoretical differences, reflect some sort of individual phenomenological perspective. Most quantitative research approaches, regardless of their theoretical differences, tend to emphasize that there is a common reality on which people can agree. (Newman & Benz, 1998, p. 2)

Qualitative research methodologies are designed to provide the researcher with the perspective of target audience members through immersion in a culture or situation and direct interaction with the people under study. Qualitative methods include observations, in-depth interviews and focus groups. These methods are designed to help researchers understand the complexity of social and organizational phenomena and elucidate mental processes underlying behaviours. Hypotheses are generated during data collection and analysis, and measurements tend to be subjective. In the qualitative paradigm, the researcher becomes the instrument of data collection, and results may vary greatly depending upon who conducts the research.

There are however some techniques wherein it is possible to integrate qualitative and quantitative methods in research.

In the first approach, qualitative methods contribute to the development of quantitative instruments, such as the use of focus groups in questionnaire construction. The second model consists of a primarily quantitative study that uses qualitative results to help interpret or explain the quantitative findings. In the third approach, quantitative results help interpret predominantly qualitative findings, as when focus group participants are asked to fill out survey questionnaires at the session. In the fourth model, the two methodologies are used equally, in parallel to cross-validate, and build upon each other's results. … may operate under one or more of these models; the approaches are not mutually exclusive. (Weinreich, 1996)

Exploratory research conducted at the beginning of the project in this case involved both quantitative and qualitative data and include interviews with respondents closely involved in the running of hospices. Information obtained from the initial exploratory research can also be used to form the basis for taking a decision on an appropriate final research path. The messages and materials developed based upon the exploratory research can then be refined for both qualitative and quantitative methods so that the results provide depth of understanding as well as representative of the population.

It is felt that in this case integrating quantitative and qualitative research methods will lend depth and clarity to the research assignment. Using multiple approaches can be time-consuming, labour-intensive and expensive, but also possibly the most productive.

3. Choice of Information Source

The choice of material to be used for the research assignment also needs decision and quantification. In this case, the researcher has used both primary and secondary sources of information for compilation of data.

Primary sources used include both information available publicly and information gathered by the researcher. The researcher has depended upon the results of surveys carried out by the researcher as well as by other capable organizations on issues that are relevant to the issue under investigation. Public materials include governmental notifications, original company websites and pronouncements by senior officials in the media on the research subject.

4. Population and Sampling

The research methodology focuses on an investigative study of the data sources made available for this study as well as the texts reviewed in the Literature Review. The literature has been chosen with care and studied extensively. In addition to all the secondary sources listed in the references and bibliography, a detailed survey of the population samples was carried out.

The use of surveys carried out by the following organizations was used for the purpose of this study.

The Population Sample consists of employees in carefully selected organizations, all based in the UK, who work mostly in the service sector. The selected sample consisted of 35 males and 35 females belonging to two stratified levels, managerial and non-managerial functions, but all with college education and aged between 25 and 38.

5. Data Collection

Data collection is through the use of specific questionnaires which will be sent to the population sample either personally or through the use of e mail. Direct contact with all respondents has been made and they have been explained the reasons for the research, the possible benefits and have been assured of total anonymity and privacy of opinions revealed in the questionnaire.

The questionnaires includes standard questions on job satisfaction but have also been modified to include questions on the use of Information Technology in the workplace and the incidence of bullying, a subject of great concern to the researcher and a phenomenon that could tomorrow cause serious workplace problems. There are a number of questionnaire formats available for the measurement of job satisfaction, chief among them being the 21 point Job Characteristics Scale and the 20 point Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire.

The Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire (MSQ) is designed to measure an employee’s satisfaction with their particular jobs and makes it possible to obtain an assessment of job satisfaction at individual levels as also for groups for a wide spectrum of workplace factors.

The MSQ uses the following parameters for measuring job satisfaction.

1.Ability Utilisation 6. Company 11. Moral Values 16. Social Status
2. Achievement 7. Compensation 12. Recognition 17. Supervision (Tech)
3. Activity 8. Co workers 13. Responsibility 18. Supervision (HR)
4. Advancement 9. Creativity 14. Security 19. Variety
5. Authority 10. Independence 15. Social Service 20. Working Conditions
The MSQ generally uses five response choices which are (1) Very Satisfied, (2) Satisfied (3) Neutral (Neither satisfied or Dissatisfied) (4) Dissatisfied and (5) Very Dissatisfied

As a rule the MSQ uses five subsets to measure each parameter for measuring job satisfaction. However shorter forms of the MSQ also in use were used by the researcher for the purpose of this assignment.

The questionnaire was thus drafted as follows.

Serial Question: Very Satisfied/ Happy, Satisfied/ Happy, Neither, Dissatisfied/ Unhappy, Very Dissatisfied/ Unhappy.

1 Do you get the chance to do something that makes use of your abilities?

2 Do you get a feeling of accomplishment from doing your job?

3 Are you able to keep busy all the time?

4 Do you have chances for good advancement in this job?

5 Do you have the freedom to use your own judgment in the job?

6 Do you agree with the way company policies are put into practice?

7 Are you happy with the salary you get?

8 Are you happy with the way your co workers get along with each other?

9 Are you happy with being allowed to give your own inputs to the job?

10 Are you satisfied with being able to do your own job independently?

11 Are you able to do things that don’t go against your conscience?

12 Are you satisfied with the praise you get for doing a good job?

13 Are you satisfied with the opportunity to tell people what to do?

14 Are you satisfied that your job provides for steady employment?

15 Does your job give you the chance to do things for other people?

16 Are you satisfied that the job gives you the chance to be “somebody” in the community?

17 Are you satisfied with the competence of your supervisor in making decisions?

18 Are you satisfied with the way your boss handles his/her workers?

19 Do you get the chance to do different things from time to time?

20 Are you satisfied with the working conditions?

21 Are you satisfied with your supervisors informing you about the results of your job?

22 Are you satisfied with the constant use of computers in your work?

23 Are you happy with the treatment your co workers give to each other?

Data Analysis

The researcher has taken care to ensure that the MSQ questionnaire in its short form covers all twenty theoretical parameters to monitor job satisfaction? In addition to the factors necessary for the MSQ questionnaire the researcher has also incorporated three separate questions on the factors associated with feedback, use of computers in the workplace and on harassment in the office.

The questionnaires are so designed that information can be checked for reinforcing or self contradictions and correlations can be statistically established. It will thus be very possible to see whether responses to different questions contradict or support each other.

This can be done through simple modal matching of question sets or through establishing the extent of statistical correlation between them using the Pearson’s correlation model.


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