If a single metric could represent the results of an organization's people management efforts–this metric will be Employee Satisfaction. While metrics like attrition and absenteeism are critical to measuring the health of the people management systems, these are lagging indicators of HR efficiency.

For this very reason, employee satisfaction is also the most extensively studied occupational phenomenon globally. A well-designed and well-implemented Employee satisfaction survey can predict turnover and aid to pre-empt it.

What is employee satisfaction?

Employee satisfaction means how satisfied or happy your employees are with their job. It is the level of contentment and enthusiasm employees feel towards their job.

This article intends to understand employee satisfaction from an organizational culture standpoint, its determinants, and how to measure it effectively.

Employee satisfaction and organizational culture

In his book 'The Changing Culture of a Factory,' Dr. Elliott Jaques coined the first mention of culture from the perspective of an organization in the year 1951. Back in its day, this book intended to explore the set of values that organizations need to nurture to gain total commitment from their people.

He invented the term' requisite organization' that he defined as an organization 'with a list of organizational values' that achieves 'doing business with efficiency and competitiveness' by 'release of trust and satisfaction in its employees.

Trust and satisfaction have since been constant evaluation subjects for people management. The requisite organization theory proves that organizational culture is a controllable determinant that affects employee satisfaction.

Eventually, a myriad of research studies in the 1990s and the 2000s proved a clear statistical correlation between Employment Satisfaction and Organisational culture. Ivana Petrovic's 2016 exploratory study identified nine organizational factors that lead to job satisfaction.

Below given are nine factors and the subcategories of aspects covered during the study:

Factor 1: Conditions of work

  • Availability of information necessary to perform work well.
  • Absence of tension and pressure on employees.
  • Clear work organization with the precise division of work tasks.
  • Safe working conditions.
  • Physical working conditions.
  • Objective evaluation of individual performance.
  • Absence of tension and pressure at work.
  • Promotion based on clear and known criteria.
  • Respect for employee rights.
  • Clearly defined work tasks and responsibilities.
  • Opportunity to take initiative at work.
  • Fair standards in defining salaries.

Factor 2: Relations between colleagues at work

  • A friendly atmosphere at work.
  • Good communication between colleagues.
  • Good relations between colleagues.
  • Support provided by colleagues.
  • Absence of conflict between employees.
  • Competent and reliable colleagues.
  • Absence of tension and pressure on employees.
  • Help and support from managers in performing work tasks.

Factor 3: The job itself

  • Challenging and exciting job.
  • A stimulating job with few routine tasks.
  • Opportunities for traveling abroad on business.
  • Job content, activities within the work.
  • Opportunity to take initiative at work.
  • Opportunities for professional development and training.

Factor 4: Company’s significance

  • Company in a field of business important to society.
  • Company’s public image and reputation.
  • A high degree of discipline.
  • Informing employees on the general state of affairs in the company.
  • Reporting employees on the news in different parts of the company.
  • Opportunities to get different benefits.

Factor 5: Managers

  • Highly competent managers.
  • Managers who respect employees and are open to their suggestions.
  • Good organizational skills of the manager.
  • Availability of the manager to his/her subordinates.
  • Help and support from the managers in performing work tasks.

Factor 6: Compensation system

  • Compensation system in which the employees’ salaries depend on their level of expertise.
  • A compensation system that does not discriminate according to the part of the organization in which the employee works.
  • Compensation system in which salaries depend solely on achieved results.
  • Salary equal to the invested effort.
  • Fair criteria in defining salaries.

Factor 7: Rewarding results and creating conditions for achieving them

  • Compensation system in which salaries depend solely on achieved results.
  • Fair criteria for determining wages.
  • Compensation system in which salaries depend on the level of expertise.
  • Salary equal to the invested effort.
  • A compensation system that does not discriminate according to the part of the organization in which the employee works.
  • Amount of salary.
  • Promotion based on clear and known criteria.
  • Opportunities for professional growth and training.
  • Objective evaluation of individual performance
  • Quality introductory training.
  • Appreciation and acknowledgment by the managers of a job well done.
  • Clear work organization with the precise division of work tasks.
  • Good cooperation between different organizational units.

Factor 8: Company as a support

  • A company that employees can rely on if they get into trouble
  • Opportunities to get different benefits.
  • The company cares about its employees.
  • Employees kept informed about the general state of affairs in the company.
  • Company in a field of business important to society.
  • Company’s public image and reputation.
  • Respecting employees’ rights is defined in the collective labor contract.
  • Informing employees on the news in different parts of the company.
  • A job that does not require overtime work.

Factor 9: Basic work conditions

  • Safe working conditions.
  • Physical working conditions.
  • Availability of the necessary work assets and equipment.
  • Availability of information required for performing quality work.

Employee’s personal attributes and employee satisfaction

While the organizational culture impacts employee satisfaction, employee satisfaction is another determinant. During their research in 1993, Brown and Peterson found that in addition to culture as an organizational variable, the other antecedent of satisfaction is the employees’ characteristics and their role perceptions.

It was 13 years later when in 2006, Markus Christen, Ganesh Iyer, and David Soberman created their model for job satisfaction. This is one of the most referred to and benchmarked organizational research studies on employee satisfaction. This model aimed to clarify ambiguities surrounding the concepts of work relationships and unify all independent studies relating to this.

This job satisfaction model spoke of how the work relationship concepts are correlated to each other.

It proved the following correlations between job performance, job satisfaction, (individual’s) efforts, (individual’s) ability, company productivity, job factors, role perception, and compensation:

  1. The effect of job performance on the employee’s job satisfaction is positive and highly significant.
  2. Job performances increase with an increase in efforts and/ or increased employee's inability.
  3. Company productivity increases with job performance.
  4. The effort is negatively correlated with job satisfaction.
  5. Compensation is directly and significantly correlated to job satisfaction.
  6. Positive job factors positively affect effort and job satisfaction.
  7. Positive role perceptions positively affect effort and job satisfaction

How to measure employee satisfaction

As discussed above, there are two parties to an employee's experience in an organization: the organization and the employee. Thus, while measuring employee satisfaction you need to consider factors related to the organization and the employee.

An effective questionnaire should measure the organizational commitment, which is a result of organizational culture. It should also gauge the organizational culture from the perception of the employee. In addition to both of these, it should also be equipped to measure employee job satisfaction, which is a result of the employee's personal experience at the organization.

Organizational commitment

Organizational commitment is defined as the connection the employee experiences with the organization. This concept helps explain the impact of the organizational culture on the employee.

Natalie J. Allen and John P. Meyer, in their 1990 study on organizational commitment, brought out a questionnaire that allows measuring organizational commitment. This study has had an extraordinary impact because it was the first of its kind that derived determinants of organizational commitment by studying employee attitudes, not behaviors.

Since attitude is a predecessor of organizational behavior, this survey aims to detect employment anomalies earlier in the process. This categorizes commitment into three groups.

➡ Affective commitment

An employee is described to be affectively committed to their organization if they intend to continue working because they are satisfied with their job. These employees should typically identify with the organizational goals, perceive that they are a good fit for the organization, and generally be happy with their job.

The following are the actual scale questions that were used during the Allen and Meyer research and are widely used as a base to organizational commitment surveys:

Affective commitment scale items

  • I would be pleased to spend the rest of my career in this organization.
  • I feel as if this organization’s problems are my own.
  • I do not feel like ‘part of my family’ at this organization. (Reverse)
  • I do not think ‘emotionally attached to this organization. (Reverse)
  • This organization has a great deal of personal meaning for me.
  • I do not feel a strong sense of belonging to this organization. (Reverse)

➡ Continuance commitment

An employee is described as continually committed to their organization if they intend to continue working that they internally lack the confidence to do otherwise –then they might only get a worse option of work from another organization. These employees may become intermittently dissatisfied with their work yet unwilling to leave the organization.

The following are the actual scale questions that were used during the Allen and Meyer research and are widely used as a base to organizational commitment surveys:

Continuance commitment scale items

  • It would be tough for me to leave my job at this organization right now, even if I wanted to
  • Too much of my life will be disrupted if I leave my organization.
  • Right now, staying with my job at this organization is a matter of necessity as much as desire.
  • I believe I have too few options to consider leaving this organization.
  • One of the few negative consequences of leaving my job at this organization would be the scarcity of available alternatives elsewhere.
  • One of the primary reasons I continue to work for this organization is that leaving would require considerable personal sacrifice.

➡ Normative commitment

An employee is normatively committed to their organization if they intend to continue working because they are guilty of doing otherwise – then their leaving will have disastrous consequences to the company. They generally feel a sense of guilt about the possibility of leaving.

The following are the actual scale questions that were used during the Allen and Meyer research and are widely used as a base to organizational commitment surveys:

Normative commitment scale items

  • I do not feel any obligation to remain with my organization.
  • Even if it were to my advantage, I do not feel it would be right to leave.
  • I would feel guilty if I left this organization now.
  • This organization deserves my loyalty.
  • I would not leave my organization right now because of my sense of obligation.
  • I owe a great deal to this organization.

Organizational culture

The organizational commitment survey measures the employee attitudes towards the organization but does not help find gaps in the current organizational culture. Clear indicators of the improvement areas are vital when streamlining the organizational culture towards creating the 'requisite organization.'

An organizational researcher, Van der Post, created the Organisational Culture Questionnaire in 1997, intending to solve this problem. He and his team studied a vast number of dimensions of organizational culture, and 15 concepts of culture emerged out of statistical synthesis. A questionnaire was developed using these concepts and is used to measure organizational culture even to the present day.

The following are the fifteen aspects of the organizational culture that affects employee satisfaction:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Culture management
  • Customer orientation
  • Disposition toward change
  • Employee participation
  • Goal clarity
  • Human resources orientation
  • Identification with organization
  • Locus of authority
  • Management style
  • Organization focus
  • Organization integration
  • Performance orientation
  • Reward orientation
  • Task structure

Job satisfaction

The Job satisfaction concept represents an employee's motivation, contention, and satisfaction with their job role. P E. Spector, in 1985 studied staff satisfaction and developed a job satisfaction survey.

Several follow-up studies intend to test this survey's validity, reliability, and sensitivity, proving its broad applicability across regions, demographics, and organizations. These follow-up studies, in general, only suggest two considerations to the survey while applying this to an organization–the local relevance and context.

Local relevance relates to the existing norms in the particular geographic region–social, political, or cultural. Context relates to considering the sector and the kind of organization–whether public or private, health or technology, etc. Thus, it needs to be customized as per the specific organization to get the best results during the application.

This job satisfaction survey (predominantly used as an acronym JSS) is a nine facet scale to assess employee attitudes about the job and the different aspects. These nine facets are Pay, Promotion, Supervision, Fringe Benefits, Contingent Rewards (performance-based rewards), Operating Procedures (required rules and procedures), Co-workers, Nature of Work, and Communication.

Following is the standard JSS questionnaire that allows respondents to answer on a scale of 'agree very much to 'disagree very much' to each of the following listed opinions.

  • I feel I am being paid a fair amount for my work.
  • There is too little chance for promotion on my job.
  • My supervisor is reasonably competent in doing their job.
  • I am not satisfied with the benefits I receive.
  • When I do a good job, I receive the recognition that I should receive.
  • Many of our rules and procedures make doing a good job difficult.
  • I like the people I work with.
  • I sometimes feel my job is meaningless.
  • Communications seem good within this organization.
  • Raises are too few and far between.
  • Those who do well on the job stand a fair chance of being promoted.
  • My supervisor is unfair to me.
  • The benefits we receive are as good as most other organizations offer.
  • I do not feel that the work I do is appreciated.
  • My efforts to do a good job are seldom blocked by red tape.
  • I find I have to work harder at my job because of the incompetence of the people I work with.
  • I like doing the things I do at work.
  • The goals of this organization are not clear to me.
  • I feel unappreciated by the organization when I think about what they pay me.
  • People get ahead as fast here as they do in other places.
  • My supervisor shows too little interest in the feelings of subordinates.
  • The benefits package we have is equitable.
  • There are few rewards for those who work here.
  • I have too much to do at work.
  • I enjoy my co-workers.
  • I often feel that I do not know what is going on with the organization.
  • I feel a sense of pride in doing my job.
  • I feel satisfied with my chances for salary increases.
  • There are benefits we do not have which we should have.
  • I like my supervisor.
  • I have too much paperwork.
  • I don't feel my efforts are rewarded the way they should be.
  • I am satisfied with my chances for promotion.
  • There is too much bickering and fighting at work.
  • My job is enjoyable.
  • Work assignments are not fully explained.

Conclusion

Employee satisfaction surveys are prevalent in modern organizations, but their design process must be scientific and thoroughly understood before implementation.

Following are the ideal steps to follow while selecting and implementing an employee satisfaction software:

  • Identify the existing organizational culture and its features (Use Ivana Petrowick’s framework, for example).
  • Select employee satisfaction tools that measure the organizational culture (Use the Van der Post questionnaire, for example) and also choose employee satisfaction tools that measure Job satisfaction (JSS, for example)
  • Customize both the surveys as per the existing organization culture and features. (Result of step 1)
  • Customize both the surveys to include the regional and contextual aspects of the organization.
  • Determine the survey methodology.
  • Conduct the survey.
  • Tabulate the results for absolute employee satisfaction scores.
  • Use the employee satisfaction scores/ tabulated results to capture the company's current state of employee satisfaction.
  • Work on the gaps concerning the organizational culture envisioned vs. actual.
  • Re-conduct the survey to track improvements.

Employee satisfaction software

An employee satisfaction software or an employee engagement software like Empuls helps organizations seamlessly connect, collaborate, reward, and engage with their employees.

With software like Empuls in place, organizations can easily collect and share feedback from time to time from their employees, recognize employee achievements, and promote a positive work culture. The platform also empowers organizations with actionable insights from the employee feedback received.

An employee satisfaction software like Empuls also helps organizations understand employee sentiment uncover hidden disengagement factors through pulse surveys and lifecycle surveys with a curated list of questions designed to evaluate employee (and organizational) health or wellness accurately.

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Employee Engagement
Rani Joseph

Rani Joseph LinkedIn

Rani Joseph comes with a decade-long experience across the value chain of content and brand marketing. She currently is the Sr. Manager of Content Marketing at Xoxoday.