Leader Lab: What Is The Truth About Job Satisfaction?

September 27, 2010

My new post at The Leader Lab is entitled “What is the truth about job satisfaction?” As I reported here previously, I took strong exception to a recent post in the blogsphere that claimed the importance of job satisfaction was a myth. My buddy Paul at Incentive Intelligence pointed me to the study that the blog author was probably referencing.

I found that study and took a look at it. The study does show that when personality traits are accounted for, the relationship between satisfaction and performance weakens. Any of you that have worked with statistics knows that’s not all that unusual. Anytime you introduce more variables into an equation it often does change the strength of your previous findings. But in this study, while personality weakened the statistically significant relationship between satisfaction and performance, it did NOT eliminate it.

I was able to locate a new 2010 study on job satisfaction that confirmed and extended my belief that its importance is not a myth. This study showed that satisfaction aggregates, such that units with more satisfied employees performed better than units with less satisfied employees.

For a number of different reasons, job satisfaction matters. Period.

Please visit The Leader Lab by clicking here and take a look at the full article.

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  1. One question, of course, is the direction of causality in the relationship between job satisfaction and performance. It makes sense that satisfied employees will be more motivated and perform better, but it makes just as much sense that employees who perform well will be satisfied with their jobs.

    John Wanous did a study in the 1970s suggesting that extrinsic satisfaction (e.g., incentives, promotions) causes performance, but performance causes intrinsic satisfaction (e.g., enjoyment of the task).

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Michael! You are of course absolutely correct. One of the most important things managers can do is to help employees perform better. I think we would both agree that things other than extrinsic factors can lead to performance, but performance certainly is intrinsically satisfying. Thanks, Michael! Bret

  2. davidburkus says:

    All part of the service profit chain.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    A very important part. Thanks! Bret