Showing posts with label employee satisfaction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label employee satisfaction. Show all posts

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Using “Life Satisfaction” to Retain Skilled Military Officers and Employees

Most of us want to feel fulfilled in our personal and work lives while contributing to society. Whether one is trying to retain people in the workplace or in the military keeping the best and brightest engaged is important for organizational success. Proyer, et. al. (2012) examined Swiss Career Officers work and life satisfaction along with their orientation to happiness, and its relation to career success. The results can be applied to both civilian and military organizations. 

Most of us want to feel as though we have a solid purpose for making our way into the office every day. It is difficult to stay motivated or feel satisfied if work is something more akin to money alone versus the greater benefits it can provide. Thinking beyond one’s tasks to something more important can make a significant difference in how we feel about our jobs. 

The same concept applies to both military officers and civilian workers. Most people don’t join the military for pay alone but may consider a military career for other concepts such as greater good, national security, or “making the world a better place”. Each may find their own motivations but it is the connection to something bigger that makes the difference in our minds. 

Those who experience more creative flow at work also report greater work satisfaction, positive moods, and innovation (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990).  People who feel good about their jobs, lose conception of time in their work functions, and contribute to a greater good seem to be more innovative and happy. This creative flow helps in retention of bright minds but also in the overall productive development of the organization.

The study helped bring forward the idea that those who identify with what they are doing, have high autonomy to be creative, and have high interest in their functions also seem to be happier and engaged in life. An engaged life seems to encourage life satisfaction while finding meaning with work tasks improves upon work satisfaction. 

Military retention is important for bright officers and capitalizing on their training, strength and skills. The same concept applies to civilian workplaces where knowledge, skills and abilities should be retained in order to avoid loss of future capabilities. Helping officers and employees find a connection to the greater meaning of their work and use a variety of skills with their work tasks not only helps the organization grow but also helps the officers and employees feel satisfied.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: HarperCollins.

Proyer, R. et. al. (2012). Assessing the “good life” in military context: how does life and work-satisfaction relate to orientations to happiness and career-success among Swiss professional officers? Social Indicators Research, 106 (3).

Monday, June 17, 2013

Engaged and Satisfied Employees Raise Organizational Performance

Satisfied employees have developed strong social relationships with their leaders and the organization. They understand and communicate well with their supervisors and have a personal connection to them on an interpersonal level. Through these positive relationships employees will feel positive affectivity toward their employer which leads to higher levels of performance. When employees enjoy their work and their working relationships they have developed higher levels of organizational commitment, enhanced motivation, and are less likely to leave an organization.

Relationships between employee satisfaction and communication are often related to how employees feel toward their job and other employees. Job satisfaction is associated with higher levels of commitment and lower turnover intentions (Yucel, 2012). Employees who feel the organization provides significant meaning to their lives and are satisfied with their employment opportunities have more commitment than those who don’t.

Naturally, people want to enjoy the work they engage in and the people they talk to on a daily basis. When they do feel a positive association to the organization and its members they naturally will desire to put forward more effort based in the positive affectivity and a sense of loyalty to their social group members. It is often these social relationships that make all the difference in successful and unsuccessful companies.

Employment satisfaction doesn’t exist in a bottle. It often comes with other concepts that include leadership, engagement, and ethical standards (Munir, et. al., 2013). Engagement can be seen as moving above and beyond the requirements of one’s position to fulfill additional responsibilities. Ethical standards become a medium of activity, leadership prompts the behavior, and engagement determines the pathway for benefits.

It is hard to connect with the organization is there is not some level of ethical medium that applies to all members equally. When employees are unsure of how relationships within the organization impact their employment opportunities because ethical standards are lower they will be more cautious about who they talk to and what they talk about. When employees stop relating to each other or their management team the result will be lower satisfaction, lower motivation, and even lower performance.

Job satisfaction is also influenced by the relationships between leaders and followers. According to Han and Jakel job satisfaction had a mediating relationship between leader-member exchange and turnover (2011). The more leaders and managers talked with and engaged their employees the higher the job satisfaction and the lower the turnover rates. 

Great bosses are not only liked but also respected. They don’t need to be the employee’s best friend but they should have positive relationships that allow for openness of communication. They should also be seen as ethical, fair, and trustworthy. Employees will still engage with bosses that have high standards as long as they trust the judgment of that boss and have a personal connection to him or her. 

Developing employee satisfaction has multiple benefits for an organization that includes reduced costs, higher levels of performance, and a stronger commitment to organizational success. This satisfaction is influenced by the nature of employee’s relationships, perceptions of ethical and fair treatment, engagement with the leadership team and the way in which employees make meaning of their place within the group. 

Tips for Managers:

-Have a positive disposition when talking with employees.
-Develop strong ethical and moral norms within the organization.
-Encourage openness with employees.
-Raise expectations and performance ideals.
-Encourage and praise positive performance that goes beyond requirements.
-Help employees understand the importance of their job.
-Offer opportunities for growth.

Han, G. & Jekel, M. (2011). The mediating role of job satisfaction between leader-member exchange and turnover intentions. Journal of Nursing Management, 19 (1). 

Munir, et. al. (2013). Empirical investigation of ethical leadership, job turnover, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and organizational citizenship behavior. Far East Journal of Psychology & Business, 10 (2).  

Yucel, I. (2012). Examining the relationships among job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and turnover intention: an empirical study. International Journal of Business & Management, 7 (2).

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Equity Theory and Employee Perception

Equity Theory is a concept developed by the Behavioral Scientist John Stacy Adams in 1963.His theory indicates that people will judge and analyze both the rewards and the outputs of effort to determine whether not they are being treated fairly within the workplace (Adams, 1965). These inputs and expenditures are subjective by nature as they are based upon the perceived rewards and efforts of others. When information is accurate employees are better able to accurately gauge the equity relationships with employers and produce more meaningful results.

An example can help in solidifying this concept. Let us say for a moment that John and Sally work for the same company. John works very hard each and every day but doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere at work. When he looks at Sally he believes that she works less but has received two raises within the past few years. He also notices that Sally is very friendly with her bosses and he interprets such actions rightly or wrongly as flirtation.

In this case example John may come to some conclusions about Sally and the reasons why she is receiving raises and he is not. John is understandably upset and confronts his boss about the inappropriate behavior. He finds out that Sally has been spending every weekend inventorying and adjusting products and saved the company significant amounts of money. John’s perception changes and he has a clearer picture what type of effort gets him a reward.

The subjectivity in this situation is based upon the available information to John, the transparency of the reward system, the perceived truthfulness of his boss, and the ability of John to understand the situation. This same concept applies across many layers of society when different racial, religious, and social groups compare themselves to each other. Based upon one’s limited perspective if they interpret the available information as an indication of inequality their motivation will decrease.

A workplace related example may be more appropriate. Locals in Chinese firms perceived the higher compensation of expatriates as fair but not the higher compensation of other locals (Chen, Choi, & Chi, 2002). The reason this situation exists is that ideologically the local Chinese within the study understood that expatriates obtained additional international skills while other local Chinese did not. It was this perception that gives proper justification to their understandings of expatriates and their more valuable skills but does not explain adequately those with the same skill level.

People have a quantitative value in their mind as to the amount of work that is needed versus to obtain expected outcomes. Often this formula is calculated using concrete concepts such as pay-per-hour or project compensation. However, it can take other difficult to define definitions such as satisfaction, meaning, purpose, relationships and much more. It is the totality of these perceptions of equality that takes precedence in determining the value of ones efforts when compared to the received rewards. It is beneficial to see it in terms of the following formula:

Fostering equity within the workplace can improve performance, as people are encouraged to put forward more effort. A review of literature indicates that pay is extremely important as an input value (Al-Zawahreh & Al-Madi, 2012). Researchers often rely heavily on pay to determine the appropriate factors that create equity only because it is simple to define and concrete. However, with surveys and other methods of evaluation it is possible to determine where the trade of effort matches less defined rewards such as status and satisfaction.

Employers are keen on using Equity Theory to define these values in terms of compensation. For example, start-ups like Google offered stock options because in their beginning money was short but stock was plentiful; some employees became millionaires overnight. Some non-profit organizations use a high position with low pay to develop equity. Progressive businesses often balance many approaches such as culture, compensation, status and benefits to create equity.

Even with these methods, it is important to let employees know what the value of their total rewards is to raise this perception. Transparency often offers this ability but should be enhanced with strong communication in newsletters, conversation, and statements. Through open communication with employees and fair allocation of rewards based on effort, employers can improve performance and reduce employee resentment. A positive employer-employee relationship can translate into higher firm value and profits.

Adams, J.S. 1965. Inequity in social exchange. Adv. Exp. Soc. Psychol. 62:335-343.

Al-Zawahreh, A. & Al-Madi, F. (2012). The utility of Equity Theory in enhancing organizational effectiveness. European Journal of Economics Finance & Administrative Sciences, 46.

Chao, C., Choi, J. & Chi, S. (2002). Making justice sense of local-expatriate compensation disparity: mitigation by local referents, ideological explanations and interpersonal sensitivity in China-Foreign ventures. Academy of Management Journal, 45 (4). 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hotel Management and Service Improvement Through Job Embeddedness

Casa del Mar
Hotels and resorts hire a higher percentage of service employees and are constantly seeking ways to improve on service delivery. To create seamless service it is necessary to have stronger performance the moment the bell person takes the customers bags to the server who delivers their order. Research in job embeddedness helps to highlight how training, empowerment, and rewards can lead to higher levels of performance by service workers. Yet this research also indicates that rewards and training may not be the most important consideration.

Job embeddedness is a concept that refers to, “the combined forces that keep a person from leaving his or her job” (Yao et. al, 2004,pp. 159). This concept can include compensation, organizational fit, personal abilities, management style, etc… The concept is closely associated with employee satisfaction in terms of how and what employees feel about the organization.

Turnover rates and poor performance can be expensive for organizations. In many low skilled positions turnover rates can be excessive costing both time and money for recruiting and training. Higher absenteeism, resistant behavior, and poor customer relations can take a toll on a company’s profit margins. Understanding and improving upon job embeddedness will also improve upon the human relations and performance within the organization.

Job embeddedness theory indicates that when there are strong links and proper organization fit between employees and organizations, employees will be more motivated to display strong performance (Lee, et. al, 2004). This performance has a whole range of important improvements for organizations. Consider a few of the following:

-Stronger service and service recovery.
-Lower turnover rates and improvement costs.
-Less resistant behavior.
-Higher human efficiency and performance.
-Higher customer return rates and impression.

As you look through the list above you might be able to figure that each of the costs are associated with poor employee embeddedness. When customers have a poor impression of the organization they are not likely to return and this can limit present and future sales. Resistant behavior and poor performance can cause mistakes within the workplace and an inability to improve upon operations as employees avoid change and direction. As organizations are socio-economic groups these concepts are central to a well-run business.

According to a study conducted by Karatepel and Karadas (2012) job embeddedness has a huge factor on organizational success. They collected sample data from 7 hotels ranked in the four and five star resort area of Poiana Brasov region of Romania. All participants were direct front-line workers hired as desk agents, food servers, door attendance, guest representatives, bell attendants and bar tenders.

-Training, empowerment, and rewards enhance front-line employee job embeddedness.
-Association of empowerment and service recovery.
-No association between training and service recovery.
-Training and empowerment increase extra-role behavior.
-No association of rewards and extra-role behavior.
-Job embeddedness as a concept increase service performance.


The concept of job embeddedness entails the perception of employees and their positions within the organization. The study has encouraged a better understanding of how training, empowerment, and rewards can improve upon this perception and increase overall performance. Since training was not associated with service recovery while empowerment was associated employees should feel free to find unique ways to meet customer needs. This would be difficult if were not allowed to go outside necessary procedures when necessary. Furthermore, since training and empowerment also increased extra-role behaviors of employees it would be a beneficial focus of management leaders. Together the concepts of training, rewards, and empowerment enhance embeddedness which has a tangible result on extra-role behavior and overall service recovery.

Lee, T. , Mitchell, T., Sablynski, C.,  Burton, J.& Holtom, B.(2004). The effects of job embeddedness on organizational citizenship, job performance, volitional absences, and voluntary turnover, Academy of Management Journal 47(5): 711–722.

Yao, X., Lee, T., Mitchell, T.& Burton, J. & Sablynski, C. (2004). Job embeddedness:
current research and future directions, in Griffeth, R.; Hom, P. (Eds.). Understanding Employee
Retention and Turnover. Greenwich, CT: Information Age, 153–187.

Karatepel, O. & Karadas, G. (2012). The effect of management commitment to service quality on job embeddedness and performance outcomes. Journal of Business Economics and Management, 13 (4).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Book Review: Work and Motivation by Victor Vroom

Work and Motivation by Victor Vroom is a paradigm shifting book that looks at the human motivation within the workplace through both an individual and group based lens. For managers who are seeking methods of improving on worker motivation the book is not one that should be passed up without a thorough read.  It provides keen insight on the potential, nature, and limitations of employee motivation. 

The book attempts to summarize the findings of industrial psychologists and research related to human motivation within the workplace. The work focused on three areas:

1.       The choices made by persons among work roles.
2.       The extent of their satisfaction with their chosen work roles
3.       The level of their performance or effectiveness in their chosen work roles. 

Vroom makes the assertion that there are two types of determinants of attitudes which include 1.) The cognized utility of the attitude toward attaining particular outcomes; and, 2.) The intensity and nature of the affect expected from the outcomes. In essence people will either move toward a particular outcome or avoid a particular outcome based upon how they mentally weight and judge information to make a final decision. It is these decisions and expected outcomes that the expectancy theory is developed.

Expectancy theory makes the assumption that worker motivation is a result of how much a worker wants an outcome (valence), the cognitive belief that a certain behavior will lead to a particular outcome (expectancy) and that performance will lead to the particular outcome (valence). Each employee is seen as having needs and scanning their environment to find pathways that are most convenient and efficient in creating needs fulfillment. 

After reading the work you may also come to the conclusion about how important it is for people who work within groups to have positive relationships with their management team if effective improvements in workplace motivation are going to be realized. It is through both their workgroups as well as management relationships that they make certain decisions to engage or not engage the workplace.

One of the necessary conditions for exchange of rewards to occur between persons is some degree of interaction between them.” (Vroom, 1964, pp 138). 

It is hard to create expectations and possible rewards unless there is interaction among organizational members. It is through these interactions that employees determine their potential approaches and opportunities to achieve rewards. Thus, the interactions among the work group and the workers interaction with management influence a significant proportion of people’s decisions.

The book is well written and is scientific in its orientation. It not only proposes the cognitive theory of expectancy but also justifies it through leading research of the day. Even though the book is dated it provides an excellent understanding of the concepts of motivation and satisfaction.  Each aspect of his writing is cited with appropriate references. Such a book should be part of every manager’s and business student’s library.

Vroom, V.  (1964). Work and Motivation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. ISBN 0-7879-0030-0

Price: $35
Pages: 336
Blog Ranking: 4.7 (No age penalty as it is a root theorist).