Satisfaction at work

Job Design

Organizational psychologists try to design jobs that will maximise productivity, quality and satisfaction. According to Greenberg & Baron (2008), job design is about increasing workers’ motivation by making their work more appealing to them.

Job characteristics
Hackman & Oldham introduced a model related to job characteristics. This model can be used by employers to create appealing jobs that will motivate employees. According to the researchers, there are 5 critical stages that should be incorporated into the design of any job.

  1. Skill variety
  2. Task identity
  3. Task significance
  4. Autonomy
  5. Feedback

Hackman & Oldham state that the above 5 stages will result in 3 critical psychological states. Specifically:

  1. Workers will experience meaningfulnessat work
  2. Workers will experience responsibilityfor work outcome
  3. Workers will be knowledgeable about work outcome

All of this – the 5 stages and 3 states – will result in motivated and satisfied workers, high-quality work and performance, and reduced absenteeism.

Job design: enrichment, rotation and enlargement

There are three other ways in which a job can be designed to maximise motivation and satisfaction.

Job enrichment: Giving workers more jobs that are of a higher level of skill and responsibility.

Job rotation: Giving workers regular changes within workplace tasks.

Job enlargement: Giving workers more tasks that are of the same level and usually involve group-based work.

Designing jobs that motivate

Greenberg & Baron (2008) identified 4 methods that employers can follow to create motivating jobs for their employees.

  1. Combining tasks
  2. Increasing feedback opportunities
  3. Establishing client relationships
  4. Loading jobs vertically

Measuring Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction can be measured using techniques that involve rating scales, interviews, questionnaires, and so on.

Rating scales and questionnaires

We will look at the Job Description Index and the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire.

Job Description Index

  • Self-report questionnaire for employees
  • Measures satisfaction in 5 areas (Job, Supervision, Pay, Promotions, Coworkers)
  • Workers read phrases and answer Yes/No/?
  • Each answer has a numerical value
  • Scores are counted at the end to measure satisfaction and dissatisfaction

Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire

  • Self-report questionnaire for employees
  • Measures satisfaction in 20 areas
  • Items are read and workers rate their level of agreement on a 5-point scale
  • Scale goes from “Very dissatisfied” to “Neutral” to “Very Satisfied”
  • Scores are counted at the end to measure satisfaction and dissatisfaction

Critical incidents
The Critical Incidents Technique (CIT) allows employers to collect information about workers’ job performance.

  • Workers fill in questionnaires or give interviews about their progress
  • Self-reports ask workers about negative and positive work incidents
  • Job analysts analyse the data to see which incidents affect satisfaction


  • May be structured, unstructured or semi-structured


Attitudes To Work

Different employees have different attitudes to work, usually depending partly on their level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their job.

Theories of job satisfaction and dissatisfaction
Some theories related to motivation and work, such as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, can be applied here as they also relate to job satisfaction and attitudes towards work.

Herzeberg’s (1966) two-factory theory can also be applied here. Herzberg believed that job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are two separate aspects of work – they do not necessarily work together. Other psychologists believed that there was a sort of “continuum” from being satisfied to dissatisfy and that workers were somewhere on that continuum. However, Herzberg disagreed.

He carried out surveys on employees and asked them about the job-related factors that made them feel very good or very bad. After analysing the data, he concluded that two main factors are present here:

  • Motivators (Related to content of the job,  e.g. responsibility and recognition)
  • Hygienes (Related to context of job, e.g. supervision, salary and colleagues)

Herzberg stated that motivators should be present to achieve job satisfaction and hygienes should be absent or negative for job dissatisfaction to occur.

However, Riggio (1999) pointed out that other researchers have failed to replicate Herzberg’s study and have not found these same two factors in newer research.

Job withdrawal, absenteeism and sabotage
Withdrawal, absenteeism and sabotage occur at workplaces when employees are dissatisfied.

Job withdrawal: Voluntary withdrawal is when workers leave their jobs while involuntary withdrawal is when employers have to fire workers for various reasons

Job absenteeism: Voluntary absenteeism is when workers choose to be absent from work while involuntary absenteeism is when something causes a worker to be absent from work

Job sabotage: Sabotage is related to workers breaking rules, challenging authority and making a conscious effect to stop themselves or others from working for an employer

Organizational commitment
Greenberg & Baron (2008) identified three types of organizational commitment.

  1. Continuance (workers stay with an organization because they can’t financially afford to leave)
  2. Affective (workers stay with an organization because they agree with its goals, beliefs and policies)
  3. Normative (workers stay with an organization because of pressure from others)

According to Greenberg & Baron, committed workers are very beneficial for employers:

  • They are less likely to withdraw from tasks or work
  • They are more willing to make personal sacrifices for their job
  • They have a higher level of productivity