Studies on Employee Satisfaction

With the increased competition, fast-paced environment and globalization efforts, companies are finding that they need the support of their employees more than ever. However, the new breed of personnel wants more than pay as a benefit. They are increasingly being motivated by other factors such as greater involvement with business decisions. Recent studies are researching ways that successful organizations are encouraging positive employee morale despite ongoing business changes.
Full employee participation is required for any organizational change to succeed. Joint development of programs gives people ownership and the motivation to ensure the support of the change process. At SmithKline Beecham and Levi Strauss, for example, the strategy is view employees as business partners (Reid, 2004, p. 40).
Some of the ways that Beecham and Strauss are instituting change include:

1) An emphasis on values as well as goals, since employees want to know how the organization expects to meet the desired results; 2) Along with #1, encourage joint goal setting that leads to greater involvement and dialogue. Joint goal setting can be a powerful motivator (Reid, 2004, p. 40). 3) Support anonymous real-time feedback
through the Internet or the traditional suggestion boxes. 4) In tandem with #3, respond to feedback to let employees know their ideas have been heard. 5) Test and reward new ideas and response to challenges; 6) See employee involvement as an ongoing process that builds over time, rather than a one-shot deal; and 7) Continually review the goals established to see what headway is being made and changes needed. Survey employees regularly to measure whether needs are being met and the degree of interest in the company’s success.
Employee specialist Joel Schettler also notes the importance of updating training that in many cases still treats personnel as “grist for the mill” (2003, p. 56). Training programs should be cast as enhancing a right rather than negating a wrong. Employee motivation and incentives and training programs must go hand-in-hand to become an effective tool in today’s environment. Training should also develop teamwork and foster pride in one’s work. Pay-for-performance approaches bring only short-term, skin-deep results. When an employees’ emotional involved, unexpected positive results occur.
Arnett (2002, p. 87) stresses that companies are always putting an emphasis on external marketing programs when they should be marketing their internal customers, “the employees,” as well. He argues that a successful internal-marketing strategy can enhance both job satisfaction, organizational pride and positive employee behavior that is characterized by a commitment to customer service, cooperation with other employees, and to the company.
Looking at the research that has thus far been conducted on employee motivation, Arnett (2002, p. 88) says that the effects of employee satisfaction have been researched extensively, but not the effect of pride. In a study, he hypothesized that both job satisfaction and pride are important variables that managers can use to encourage employees to engage in desired behavior. Further, developing a good relationship with employees is a precursor to building a good relationship with customers.
Specifically, the study looked at job satisfaction, or an employee’s general affective evaluation of his or her job; pride, an emotion that is crucial to understanding human behavior that is derived from both self-appraisals and others’ opinions and represents a belief that one is competent and viewed positively by others; role clarity, where employees are clear about the scope and responsibilities of their job; a reward system where employees know they will be measure on how well they perform their duties and that positive performance brings rewards; work environment that is pleasing and offers rewarding experiences; managers that provide the proper training, listen to employees and are fair; an organization that promotes its performance to employees so they know they are a part of that performance; and activities that foster positive employee behavior and the well-being of the organization.
Arnett (2004) developed a questionnaire that was responded to by 860. The majority of the respondents had been with the organization for between 1 and 5 years, 26 percent had been with the corporation less than one year, and the remaining 3 percent had been with the company for over five years. Most respondents were hourly employees, 9 percent were supervisors, 4 percent were salaried non-management employees, and 4 percent were managers.
The results showed that job satisfaction and pride have the desired goal of promoting positive employee behavior. Three factors seem especially critical to building job satisfaction among employees–role clarity, the work environment, and employees’ evaluations of managers’ performance. Employees who believed they had a clear understanding of what it took to do their job were more likely to be satisfied. Therefore, employers should try to ensure that employees have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and expectations.
Interestingly, the employees’ evaluation of the reward system did not influence their job satisfaction. However, the researchers feel this is not an indication that employees do not care about the reward systems in their organizations. Instead, it may be an indication that other factors are more important for changing employee behavior.
The results do support the proposition that the work environment affects job satisfaction. Therefore, organizations should not focus solely on the guests’ environment, but should also examine that used by their employees as well. Employee evaluations of managers is related positively to job satisfaction, so managers should monitor the perceptions that employees have of the management team and make changes as necessary. In fact, the
workers’ evaluation of managers is most important to job satisfaction; role clarity is the next most important, followed by work environment.
The study also showed that job satisfaction effected pride positively. Employees who were the most satisfied with their jobs exhibited the most pride in their organizations. Therefore, we suggest that job satisfaction influences employee behavior. Second, it affects positive employee behavior indirectly by encouraging, pride in the organization, which then leads to positive employee behavior. The results support the fact that employees’ evaluation of managers has a positive effect on pride in the organization, as well.
The Arnett research concluded that both job satisfaction and pride in the organization are important factors that influence employee behavior. Therefore, organizations that wish to promote positive behavior in their employees should focus on both of these factors. Although many organizations have specific programs and procedures designed to improve employee satisfaction, fewer organizations make a concerted effort to increase employee pride. Our results suggest that more organizations should focus on improving employee pride.
What these above studies demonstrate is that if a company wants to encourage positive change and employee behavior, they need to look at other factors than pay and other material incentives. Although these will always continue to part of an employee incentive package, it is also necessary to reward personnel with the knowledge that their feedback and involvement are important to the company’s success.

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