Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Organisational Behaviour Lecture Series - Part 4 - The Myth of Job Satisfaction

Job Satisfaction  -  A Myth ?
Does JOB SATISFACTION truly Motivate ? 
In today’s world, it is naive to assume that people work primarily to achieve professional fulfilment and job satisfaction. 

As a matter of fact, they seem to work because what they get "on the job" enables them to achieve whatever they want to accomplish "off the job". 
At the lower levels in an organisation people work for survival, but at middle levels many persons work for their leisure - they do a job not because they enjoy doing the job but because the money that they earn from working they can use to enjoy their leisure, once their basic needs are met. I have observed this factor especially in many youngsters working in IT, ITES, BPO and many other industries who wait for the weekend to enjoy what they have earned by "toiling" in the "sweatshops" for the entire week. There a very few lucky persons who seem to have found their metier in their jobs and genuinely enjoy their work
In most cases, on the job, employees have to “produce” - there is no time for any enjoyment. 

Both Competition and Compensation levels are higher than ever before and the chief casualties are traditional so-called motivators like “job satisfaction”.
Today’s typical professional may no longer have an undivided loyalty and commitment towards his job. 

Therefore, it is incorrect to believe that an employee’s work life is spent entirely in the pursuit of job satisfaction. 

Perhaps, he or she is not actively seeking job satisfaction as much as aspiring towards other important needs and considerations like own career progression, standard of living, quality of life, material gain and personal gratification.
For most people their job is a means to achieving their desired ends.
One of the typical propositions held by most people connected with Human Resource (HR) Management is that job satisfaction is positively associated with job performance. 

Does a “satisfied” employee always “produce” more?

It may be wrong to presume and take for granted a fictitious linkage between job satisfaction and employee productivity in all cases. 
In some cases, one may be shocked to find that while the so-called “job satisfaction” was increasing, the productivity of the individual was declining.

The reason behind this apparent paradox is the mistaken concept that a satisfied employee will devote his dedicated attention to his work.
A “satisfied” or “happy” employee may begin to develop an attitude of self-complacency, and an overall sense of well-being, and consequently, his temperament may become one of ignorant submission and passivity rather than one of positive action and active involvement. I have observed this behaviour amongst employees in many organisations, particularly in government and public sector organisations where employment is secure and where seniority is more important than performance in career progression.

As a result, it is not too uncommon to see that the productivity of the employee does not always closely follow his upward satisfaction curve.
Another important aspect of this situation is the rate of constructive conflict.

If properly used and suggestively applied in the organizational context, the managerial implantation of a limited degree of constructive conflict does indeed shake these smug people and “satisfied” employees out of their lethargy and enables them to achieve a certain individuality of action. 

Viewed from the perspective of the organization the key issue is not having satisfied, happy employees but maximizing productivity, the bottom line being profit and achieving organisational goals. 
Yes, that is what the organization has to decide - what is more important - pampering the employees or maximizing productivity - helping employees in achieving their personal goals or achieving organisational goals? Is there a congruence between job satisfaction and job performance? Do "satisfied" employees always "produce" more?

With changing value systems, it may be wrong to believe that increased satisfaction means increased motivation as propounded by various conventional theories of motivation ( Maslow’s Need Hierarchy, for example). 

Here it is vital to understand that “need” comprises two components: “Appetite” and “Desire”. 

Appetite corresponds to that part of each hierarchical level of need, the non-satisfaction of which can be expected to normally inhibit or deter progress up the hierarchy of needs. 
Desire corresponds with the greedy, relatively unjustified part of each hierarchical level of need, the satisfaction of which should not be viewed as necessary prerequisite.
With changing values, and by habit and custom, yesterday’s desires become today’s appetite

The effect of extrinsic “motivational techniques” like job satisfaction will eventually be to increase need satisfaction threshold limits and draw more energies towards the satisfaction of desires. 
The myth of job satisfaction exerts severe pressures upon both the employer and the employee. 

The employer convinces himself that he must provide satisfaction on the job and the employee rationalizes his behaviour and anticipates satisfaction.

In this two-faceted pressure approach, the entire organization and all stakeholders suffer from unwanted conflicts, unfulfilled expectations, and unkept promises. 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010

Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.   

VIKRAM KARVE educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale, and Bishop's School Pune, is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, a Human Resource Manager and Trainer by occupation, a Teacher by vocation, a Creative Writer by inclination and a Foodie by passion. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. He has written a foodie book Appetite For A Stroll and a book of fiction short stories COCKTAIL which is being published soon and is currently busy writing his first novel. Vikram lives in Pune with his family and pet Doberman girl Sherry, with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.
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