Do you still think that the financial compensation, nature of a job and the security it offers are key components of job satisfaction?
It might be time to upgrade to a more accurate approach. While a few basic factors such as the ones mentioned above certainly determine the decision of an employee to stay or switch, they do not capture satisfaction per se.
The general notion among HR about job satisfaction needs to shift in order to better understand and apply the concept to achieve end goals.
Job satisfaction is one of the crucial factors which impacts the work done by employees, day in and day out, which ultimately impacts the organisation’s performance. Nowadays there are surveys being conducted, online portals to discuss this and more people taking cognisance of it. While its importance has risen in recent times, emphasis on measuring it correctly has been inadequate so far. In this article, we discuss a renewed approach and methodology to this aspect.
Why is it important?
Job satisfaction is not a term that is new to the corporate world. The need to revisit this concept in great depth might seem superfluous.
However, this is far from the reality. This one factor impacts the Key Result Areas (KRAs) of the HR team and invariably the entire organisation, which makes it important enough to focus on and measure correctly. Job satisfaction impacts these KRAs in the following ways:
1. Employee productivity
A dissatisfied employee will not be enthusiastic about their work. This will hamper the quality, timeliness and quantum of work done. On the other hand, a satisfied employee can minimise resources used, bring more business and set an example for others to follow.
2. Talent acquisition
Attracting and retaining talent are two of the key visions for a Human Resources team. A potential recruit will consider job satisfaction before making his or her decision to join an organisation or a particular department.
3. Reducing labour turnover
Once the basic financial and other needs are met, job satisfaction is a driver which can either push an employee to move out or retain an employee in spite of better offers from outside.
4. Brand image
In an office environment, job satisfaction is considered by various parties such as those who are considering joining the organisation, clients, investors and regulatory bodies since it affects each of them in one way or the other. Thus, the brand image also hinges on this factor.
Approaches To Measuring Job Satisfaction
At a conceptual level, there are two approaches to measuring job satisfaction; evaluation and experience.
Evaluation is the assessment of a person, situation or project based on distinct criteria which have either quantitative and/or qualitative metrics to arrive at a judgement. It is methodical and structured.
On the other hand, an experience is the sensory and emotional perception of a situation, be it interacting with people or working on a project.
The major difference between evaluation and experience is that the former is fairly objective since the criteria, as well as the metrics, are the same for most people. Experience is a lot more person-specific.
Evaluation vs Experience: Which Is Better To Measure Job Satisfaction?
The evaluation of many people might be the same but the experience might vary a lot. This is because an individual’s experience depends largely on their notions, belief systems, biases and priorities. Uniqueness in these aspects is quite common, and it affects the way a situation is perceived. This perception causes the individual to label experiences as positive or negative and s/he assigns them to the experience.
At the workplace, it is this label that each employee attributes to their job that impacts the satisfaction or lack thereof.
A positive label makes the experience good for the employee, while a negative label makes it a bad experience. The net result of the culmination of positive labels and negative labels attributed to various scenarios at the job decides whether the employee in question is satisfied or dissatisfied. It can be further analysed to understand the extent of job satisfaction or its absence.
At the outset, it may seem logical to gravitate towards evaluation since it is more neutral and free from bias. However, experience outweighs evaluation when it comes to job satisfaction due to the following reasons.
1. Experience impacts productivity more than evaluation does…
Logically knowing something is different from feeling something. While a cushy job in a well-known company can assure an employee of a secure career, it need not necessarily make him/her happier and hence more satisfied. It is the everyday experiences that affect one’s moods, which in turn affect the productivity.
Since optimising output is one of the KRAs, this is a very solid argument in favour of experience over evaluation.
2. Experience acknowledges the emotional nature of human resources…
Employees are human first and resources next. It is impossible for an average human being to disregard their emotions in most situations since it is innate. Embracing this inseparable aspect of each employee individually and at a collective level while measuring job satisfaction gives more accurate results.
3. Experience is more wholesome…
It encompasses varied opinions and perspectives, thus embracing the diverse nature of the workforce. It is easier to get ideas to improve the overall level of job satisfaction from a more heterogeneous pool.
Implementing The Change
As an HR manager, how do you transition from evaluation to experience? The implementation can be considered broadly in two aspects.
Metrics to be used
Usually, surveys to measure job satisfaction contain objective parameters such as availability of resources for work, benefits provided, infrastructure and so on.
Shifting focus to rating happiness, moods, contentment, equations with peers/superiors/subordinates, stress levels, anxiety and sense of achievement will capture the experience and offer a better insight into job satisfaction.
In order to combat the bias which experience involves, the frequency of surveys as well as the sample size should be maximised.
Making surveys easy to understand and quick to access will reduce the time taken and simplify the process. Technology is a key enabler for the collection of data.
Job satisfaction is an important objective of HR. Although the term has been widely used, it has not been adequately understood. Measuring job satisfaction correctly is a tricky business and has revolved around evaluations so far.
However, evaluation is the easy way out compared to experience and the latter is a far more accurate indicator of job satisfaction.