Job Satisfaction Theories

Definitions include an emotional attachment to a job. They despise their job, co-workers, pay, or working environment. How well one's efforts pay off may affect their functional happiness. Job satisfaction is not just about enjoying one's job. Researchers Taber and Alliger found that university workers said there was a moderate link between having fun and being happy at work

What are Job Satisfaction Theories?

Theories on job satisfaction can provide light on the factors that contribute to workers' happiness or discontentment on the job, as well as on what can be done to improve their level of contentment. Many theories of human motivation and concepts of job satisfaction have been shown to have common ground. The best-known and most important frameworks in this area are Maslow's needs hierarchy theory, Herzberg's motivator-hygiene theory, the job characteristics model, and the dispositional approach.

Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's demands hierarchy theory was one of the earliest hypotheses to analyze job satisfaction. According to this idea, people's wants are hierarchical, with the most basic needs at the bottom. According to Maslow's theory of motivation, basic needs must be met before more sophisticated motives (such as belonging and esteem). Maslow's hierarchy of needs explains what motivates humans. Its theories can be applied to the workplace to explain job satisfaction. Employer-provided compensation and medical coverage help meet an employee's physiological needs. Employees may want a risk-free environment, assured employment, or proper organizational structures and rules. When this need is addressed, workers can build a workplace community. When people enjoy their professions, it is generally because they have great connections with their co-workers and bosses. Once this need is met, the individual will seek recognition and appreciation at work. The worker strives to realize their maximum potential. Each step serves a key role in creating one's genuine personality, despite appearing independent. Businesses that wish to enhance employee happiness should start with basic needs before tackling more complex concerns. This strategy was once popular, but it is falling out of favor because it ignores the worker's cognitive process and lacks scientific support. Others have self-actualization difficulties. There is no unanimity on what self-actualization comprises or how to define it.

Motivator-Hygiene Theory

Herzberg's motivator-hygiene theory says job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are separate and sometimes unrelated thoughts. To be satisfied at work, a person needs "motivating" elements like pay, recognition, and achievement. Working circumstances, business regulations and structure, job security, co-worker contact, and management quality are associated with job unhappiness. If hygiene and motivation are managed separately, employees may be neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. This hypothesis states that worker unhappiness increases when sanitary aspects are poor. Drivers predict an employee's happiness. When employees' motivations are met, they are happy at work. A worker's feelings vary, ranging from intense satisfaction to severe unhappiness. It may be good to categorize these experiences independently.

Although it lacks empirical support, the motivator-hygiene theory has helped distinguish occupational satisfaction from unhappiness. Herzberg's first study allegedly had a weak methodology. When this idea has been tested, the results have been mixed, with some researchers supporting it and others not

Job Characteristics Model

The Job Characteristics Model says workers are happier when their workplace encourages intrinsically rewarding behaviors. The five most significant job traits affect three mental states: the ability to learn new things, take on new tasks, and feel a sense of accomplishment. After that, the three psychological states can lead to occupational satisfaction. Employers may enhance morale and employee satisfaction by focusing on these five areas.

Maslow's and Herzberg's theories are less empirically supported than JCM's. Many studies that apply this approach look at the effect of major job elements on individual and professional results, which is criticized. Despite this, three analyses of the JCM's impact on job satisfaction support the concept. Through a meta-analysis of 13 studies, Behson and his colleagues concluded that important psychological states play an important role in the theory and practice of the JCM.

Dispositional Approach

This dispositional approach suggests that personality affects occupational happiness. It postulates that a person's degree of satisfaction is relatively constant and steady over time. Contrast indirect studies with direct ones. Judge and others have studied these themes in depth

Scientific studies that do not directly examine people's personalities provide indirect data. According to the National Longitudinal Studies in the United States, job satisfaction is relatively stable over two, three, and five years and this definition include job or employer transitions. In an intriguing study on identical twins, researchers looked at 34 sets of separated siblings. According to this study, inherited factors account for 30% of later-life job satisfaction.

Indirect studies are open to several serious concerns, the most obvious being the likelihood that other factors not considered could contribute to job satisfaction. Personality studies are, therefore, crucial. Self-esteem, self-efficacy, emotional stability, and locus of control all contribute to how a person sees themselves, according to a study. Self-esteem affects how people see themselves, according to the data. As self-reported self-esteem, self-efficacy, emotional stability, and locus of control grew, so did job satisfaction. Self-esteem, self-efficacy, emotionality, and locus of control Neuroticism, conscientiousness, and extraversion all have moderate links to job happiness, according to the study.

Summary of Theories

Unfortunately, the hierarchy of needs and motivator-hygiene methods, despite their historical prominence, need more scientific validity. However, there is mounting evidence in favor of the JCM and the dispositional approach. Personality and the Job Content Matrix (JCM) only partially explain job satisfaction. Still, it is difficult to deny that motivational factors influence the surrounding environment and impact how satisfied employees are with their work. Consequently, Furnham and his co-workers merged personality with Herzberg's motivator-hygiene approach to analyze the combined effect on job satisfaction. Both demographic factors and scores on the five commonly used personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism) were strong predictors of job satisfaction.


Unsurprisingly, job satisfaction has garnered much interest in the academic community, as it affects workers everywhere. On the other hand, this has spawned a plethora of definitions, ideas, and metrics.

Updated on: 06-Jan-2023

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