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Relationship between Job Satisfaction and Productivity

For a number of years both social scientists and managers believed that high job satisfaction led to high performance. Not only did this belief fit into the value system of the human relations movement but there also appeared to be some research data to support this point. In the Western Electric studies, the evidence from the Relay Assembly Test Room showed a dynamitic tendency for increased employee productivity to be associated with an increase in job satisfaction. But many later studies have now established that the above belief is not correct. According to Victor Vroom, job satisfaction rather than causing performance is caused by it. He points out that good performance leads to various kinds of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards which in turn lead to satisfaction. This is shown in the Fig. 16.1.

As shown in the above figure performance may lead to two types of rewards intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic rewards are subject to fewer disturbing influences and thus are likely to be more directly related to good performance. This connection is indicated in the figure by a semiwavy line. Extrinsic rewards are subject to a number of disturbing influences and thus are imperfectly related to good performance. This is indicated in the figure by a wavy line.

The rewards do not directly lead to satisfaction but moderated by the individual's perception of what he considers to be a fair level reward. Job satisfaction is closely affected by the amount of rewards an individual derives from his job as well as what he, considers to be a fair level of rewards. Job performance is closely affected by the basis of attainment of rewards.

Job satisfaction describes how content an individual is with his or her job. The happier people are within their job, the more satisfied they are said to be. Job satisfaction is not the same as motivation, although it is clearly linked. Job design aims to enhance job satisfaction and performance, methods include job rotation, job enlargement and job enrichment. Other influences on satisfaction include the management style and culture, employee involvement, empowerment and autonomous work groups. Job satisfaction is a very important attribute which is frequently measured by organizations. The most common way of measurement is the use of rating scales where employees report their reactions to their jobs. Questions relate to rate of pay, work responsibilities, variety of tasks, promotional opportunities the work itself and co-workers. Some questioners ask yes or no questions while others ask to rate satisfaction on 1-5 scale (where 1 represents "not at all satisfied" and 5 represents "extremely satisfied").


Job satisfaction has been defined as a pleasurable emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one's job; an affective reaction to one's job; and an attitude towards one's job. Weiss (2002) has argued that job satisfaction is an attitude but points out that researchers should clearly distinguish the objects of cognitive evaluation which are affect (emotion), beliefs and behaviours. This definition suggests that we form attitudes towards our jobs by taking into account our feelings, our beliefs and our behaviors.


One of the biggest preludes to the study of job satisfaction was the Hawthorne studies. These studies (1924-1933), primarily credited to Elton Mayo of the Harvard Business School, sought to find the effects of various conditions (most notably illumination) on workers' productivity. These studies ultimately showed that novel changes in work conditions temporarily increase productivity (called the Hawthorne Effect). It was later found that this increase resulted, not from the new conditions, but from the knowledge of being observed. This finding provided strong evidence that people work for purposes other than pay, which paved the way for researchers to investigate other factors in job satisfaction.

Scientific management (known as Taylorism) also had a significant impact on the study of job satisfaction. Frederick Winslow Taylor's 1911 book, Principles of Scientific Management, argued that there was a single best way to perform any given work task. This book contributed to a change in industrial production philosophies, causing a shift from skilled labor and piecework towards the more modern approach of assembly lines and hourly wages. The initial use of scientific management by industries greatly increased productivity because workers were forced to work at a faster pace. However, workers became exhausted and dissatisfied, thus leaving researchers with new questions to answer regarding job satisfaction. It should also be noted that the work of W.L. Bryan, Walter Dill Scott and Hugo Munsterberg set the tone for Taylor's work.

Some argue that Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory, a motivation theory, laid the foundation for job satisfaction theory. This theory explains that people seek to satisfy five specific needs in life -physiological needs, safety needs, social needs, self-esteem needs and self-actualization. This model served as a good basis from which early researchers could develop job satisfaction theories.

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