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What is Job Satisfaction?

By K. Testa
Updated May 16, 2024
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Job satisfaction is a business term that refers to a person’s contentment with his or her job. Numerous factors can contribute to an employee’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction in the workplace. Such factors can include the work environment, employee relations, and salary. Although an individual’s perception of his or own job contentment is usually subjective, there are methods that employers can use to quantify responses to employee surveys and other similar measurement tools. They can then implement measures to help foster job satisfaction among workers. Ultimately, though, it may be up to individual employees to ensure their own contentment.

Over time, different theories have evolved regarding the perceived connections between job satisfaction and other variables such as workplace productivity. According to some human resources professionals, for instance, employee satisfaction typically leads to increased motivation, which then results in improved performance. Some studies have shown, however, that this is not necessarily the case; they have concluded that job satisfaction and productivity might both be associated with another variable such as an employee’s personality, but that satisfaction alone does not necessarily cause higher productivity.

Even if workplace satisfaction does not directly result in higher productivity, it can still be valuable because it often leads to lower rates of employee turnover. When satisfied with their jobs, workers do not tend to feel like they are easily replaceable. In turn, they are apt to be more loyal to their employers and remain in their positions.

Managers might wonder, then, which factors actually contribute to higher workplace productivity. Employee morale is usually a consideration. The difference between job satisfaction and morale may seem minute. Yet, the former focuses more on the individual worker’s personality and its compatibility with his or her occupation. The latter, morale, assumes more of a collective feeling among co-workers. Some examples might include a sense of teamwork, purpose, recognition for achievements, and a positive workplace environment. Generally, co-worker relations are cordial and not strained or hostile.

Human resource management professionals often measure employees’ job satisfaction by assessing workplace attitudes. This can take place informally through conversations between workers and their supervisors or with human resources representatives. Many organizations administer formal surveys and then use the results to amend workplace policies and procedures as necessary. Some businesses work with outside consulting firms to analyze the results of their employee satisfaction surveys. They might then hold workshops or training sessions to help their employees determine the professional roles that suit them.

Individuals hoping to boost their own job contentment should first do a realistic self-assessment. For example, career experts suggest honestly evaluating one’s personality and skills, noting whether they are compatible with one’s job duties. If they are incongruent, one might consider changing some activities. If change is not possible, then it may be necessary to adjust one’s attitude toward the job. For instance, when someone thinks of an occupation as a calling rather than simply a job, they might be more motivated to perform well, thus increasing his or her job satisfaction.

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Discussion Comments
By BrickBack — On May 20, 2011

@Crispety - I know that money is important, but I also know people that have highly compensated jobs that would quit tomorrow if they received some type of financial windfall, so money alone can’t motivate everyone.

I think that it is the sense that you performed your job the best way you could that offers the sense of accomplishment that means so much more than money. For example, I recently heard that one of the professions with the highest levels of job satisfaction is that of a special education teacher.

A special education teacher gets to bond with his or her students and gets to see the daily progress that his or her students are making as a direct result of his or her actions. I think that you really have to love what you do because your passion would be reflected in your performance and your overall job satisfaction levels.

By Crispety — On May 17, 2011

@Sneakers41 - I agree to a certain degree, but there are people who are motivated by money and like for their accomplishments to be reflected in their salary.

For example, a lawyer’s job satisfaction is tied to his or her case and the outcome or potential judgment. A salesperson wants significant bonuses or commission compensation for performing their job really well which is why the salesperson puts up with the rejection. So I do think that money also motivates some people and the increase in salary reminds them of how well they perform their job.

By sneakers41 — On May 16, 2011

@Suntan12 - I agree that those are significant job satisfactory factors, but I also feel that people demonstrate a certain motivation or job satisfaction if they work in a cohesive environment in which everyone is respected.

When employees feel that their opinions matter and they are truly valued, they tend to become very loyal to the company and usually perform at very high levels of productivity.

There have been many job satisfaction surveys done that suggest that more money does not necessarily motivate employees, but more positive feedback does. Employees like when their positive actions are noticed and that is often a more powerful motivator then an increase in pay.

By suntan12 — On May 15, 2011

I think that job satisfaction factors also involve how the position helps society as a whole. A lot of people in jobs that service the public feel an enormous sense of accomplishment and satisfaction because of what they do for others.

For example,nursing job satisfaction levels are usually high because nurses can see the positive effects that they are having on their patients every single day and they serve to comfort their patients and usually the patients are very grateful for the nurses’ help.

Nursing like teaching is a calling and people that are drawn to this profession have a strong desire to care for others and as a result they have high levels of job satisfaction because they are making a positive difference in society and not all jobs can say that.

People often like positive feedback regarding their job performance but in these professions the people that they serve will give them that daily feedback and that probably keeps them motivated.

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