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What Are the Different Theories of Job Satisfaction?

High job satisfaction often leads to high productivity levels.
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  • Written By: Karize Uy
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 16 March 2014
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There are at least four different theories of job satisfaction, each one with the intention of shedding light and explaining how people find contentment and fulfillment with their occupations. The emergence of these theories expresses the thought that jobs are perceived as not only a means of earning a living, but also as an important extension of a person’s identity, and, therefore, his happiness. It is also observed that people who have a high level of job satisfaction tend to be more productive and become successful in their chosen careers. Some common theories of job satisfaction include the affect theory, two-factor theory, dispositional theory, and job characteristics model.

Among the theories of job satisfaction, probably the most widely-known is the “Range of Affect” theory, or simply, Affect Theory. The principle behind this theory is that a person’s job satisfaction can depend on two factors: the expectations he has for a job, and the actual things that he is going to get in that job. The smaller the gap between these two, the more chances he is satisfied in his work. The Affect Theory also states that a person prioritizes one aspect of the job more than the other aspects, and that certain aspect can affect how satisfied he is. For example, an employee prioritizes social connections with his colleagues, and when this factor is met appropriately, he may experience greater job satisfaction.

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Dispositional Theory is also a prominent theory in the subject, and among the other recognized theories regarding job satisfaction, it is probably the only one that focuses solely on the natural disposition of a person. This theory states that one’s personality is an important determinant of the satisfaction level the person gets from the job. From example, an introverted person who may be inclined to have a lower self-esteem may experience a low job satisfaction. A person, however, who has an internal locus of control and believes he is the captain of his own ship may have a higher level of job satisfaction.

One of the theories of job satisfaction, called the Two-factor Theory, pointed out two factors that could satisfy and dissatisfy an employee in his job. The first factor would be the motivational factors that would encourage an employee to have a better work performance, and as a result, attain satisfaction. These factors can include job promotions, bonuses, and public recognition. The other factor would be the hygiene factors, which are not necessarily motivating, but would elicit dissatisfaction if they were inadequate. Examples of these would be non-financial employee benefits, the company’s policies, and the overall environment of the workplace.

Another theory is the Job Characteristics Model, probably one of the most job-focused theories of job satisfaction used. This model lists five features of a job that can affect a person, three of which — skill variety, task identity, task significance — can affect an employee’s perception of how meaningful the work is. The fourth characteristic would be “autonomy”; the more independence an employee experiences, more feelings of responsibility will occur. The last factor is feedback or evaluation, which puts across how well an employee does his tasks.

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Discuss this Article

literally45
Post 3

I think that whether an employee gets satisfaction out of his job is completely based on his or her personality and expectations. We can't make generalizations about how people will be satisfied at work. It's a very individual thing.

I know people who would work for free as long as they got recognition from their boss and coworkers. I also know people who wouldn't move a finger without getting paid. As for me, I lie somewhere in the middle. I need a balance of everything to be satisfied with my job.

ddljohn
Post 2

I think that when countries were in poverty and when people didn't have much money in general, income was very important. But now that most people are doing well financially and don't experience poverty, they don't just care about the paycheck. They care about the working environment and career advancement as well.

How else can we explain unpaid internships? Almost everyone has done an unpaid internship these days. Clearly, there is some satisfaction in working and gaining experience aside from making money. I think that Americans care more about success and the feeling that they're doing something worthwhile over a large paycheck. I'm not saying that the paycheck doesn't matter. But it's not as important as it used to be.

Does anyone agree with me?

candyquilt
Post 1

It's interesting to know that there are several job satisfaction theories. I've always felt that money is the single most important factor when it comes to satisfaction at work. I don't think that someone who gets a nice paycheck every month has much to complain about.

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