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Measuring Job Satisfaction
Our definition of job satisfaction—a positive feeling about a job resulting from an evaluation of its characteristics—is clearly broad. 30 Yet that breadth is appropriate. A job is more than just shuffling papers, writing programming code, waiting on customers, or driving a truck. Jobs require interacting with co-workers and bosses, following organizational rules and policies, meeting performance standards, living with less than ideal working conditions, and the like. 31 An employee’s assessment of his satisfaction with the job is thus a complex summation of many discrete elements. How, then, do we measure it?

Two approaches are popular. The single global rating is a response to one question, such as “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your job?” Respondents circle a number between 1 and 5 on a scale from “highly satisfied” to “highly dissatisfied.” The second method, the summation of job facets, is more sophisticated. It identifies key elements in a job such as the nature of the work, supervision, present pay, promotion opportunities, and relationships with co-workers. 32 Respondents rate these on a standardized scale, and researchers add the ratings to create an overall job satisfaction score.

Is one of these approaches superior? Intuitively, summing up responses to a number of job factors seems likely to achieve a more accurate evaluation of job satisfaction. Research, however, doesn’t support the intuition. 33 This is one of those rare instances in which simplicity seems to work as well as complexity, making one method essentially as valid as the other. The best explanation is that the concept of job satisfaction is so broad a single question captures its essence. The summation of job facets may also leave out some important data. Both methods are helpful. The single global rating method isn’t very time consuming, thus freeing time for other tasks, and the summation of job facets helps managers zero in on problems...
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