Job satisfaction is important because its absence can affect mental health.
By itself, job dissatisfaction will not automatically lead to emotional problems, but it can contribute to stress. Combined with other problems at home, however, it will surely lead to physical or emotional illness. The person who is unhappy in his work and having family or marital problems is ripe for emotional or physical breakdown.
Last week I discussed several factors not directly a part of a job - pay, security, relationships with others, supervision and organizational climate - which can contribute to job satisfaction or dissatisfaction. This week I will discuss factors in the job itself which can contribute to satisfaction or dissatisfaction. My findings are taken from the book, Understanding Job Satisfaction (John Wiley & Sons, 1979) by Michael Gruneberg.
Application of skill. Most people like to feel they are good at doing something and to show off their skills. They like to take pride in their work. Dissatisfaction occurs in a job if it is either too easy or too hard, so that a worker doesn't have the opportunity to exercise or display his skills. A job that is easy can be boring and unchallenging; a job that is impossibly difficult can raise anxiety and be ego deflating.
Recognition. People also like jobs that will bring them recognition. Some researchers believe that recognition, or its lack, is the single most important factor in job satisfaction or dissatisfaction. People want to be rewarded or recognized for the good work they do.
Recognition can come in three forms: pay increases, promotions or praise. Since few companies can afford steady pay increases, and not everyone can be promoted, praise can be an effective tool managers can use to encourage good work. And it doesn't cost a cent.
Job variety. Many people - especially those who like a challenge and the opportunity to grow - prefer jobs that involve a number of different tasks. To do the same thing over and over again, year after year, is bound to become boring. The more variety there is in a job, however, the less the chance of boredom setting in.
Job autonomy. Many people also prefer jobs that allow them some autonomy and flexibility. Few people like to be told what to do or to have someone checking their work all the time. People prefer instead to be given a job to do, then allowed the freedom, within limits, to decide how, when and with what procedures they will accomplish the task.
Research shows, for example, that flex time - a forty hour week that is set by the employee at his convenience, rather than being locked into an eight to five schedule - increases both job satisfaction and productivity.
Participation. People also like to have a say about the policies, plans or working conditions that directly effect them. The more they are consulted by their supervisors, or involved in decision-making processes, the more they tend to be satisfied with their jobs.
Job involvement. Workers who are involved with their jobs, who are committed to what they are doing and feel it is worthwhile, also tend to be more satisfied with their work.
Opportunity for growth and advancement. Many people - but especially men - have been taught to be competitive and successful. In the working world, promotions are an indication of a person's worth or success. Those who feel they are stuck in their jobs will tend to be more dissatisfied with their work.
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