Imagine going to work at your internship site. You have been working there for the past three weeks and each time you go you feel energized. The work that you do is intellectually and personally stimulating. Your coworkers and managers are supportive and sincerely want you to grow and achieve your career goals. Each time you leave work, you feel a sense of satisfaction.
Now, let’s imagine a different scenario. You decided to work at an internship site that you thought would provide you with the skills and experience that you need to advance in your career, but something doesn’t feel fight. Your coworkers all seem too stressed and busy to help you out. You’re doing meaningful work, but your boss pressures you to make your productivity standards. You feel as though you’re not learning anything. Each time you leave your job, you feel empty.
Job satisfaction has been one of the most studied concepts in psychology and business. Job satisfaction is often defined as a person’s satisfaction at work (Spector, 1997). As illustrated in the scenarios above, your work environment can be an important factor in your job satisfaction.
Why should job satisfaction be important to me?
One reason why your job satisfaction is important to consider has to do with your self-esteem. Finnøy (2000) conducted a study which looked at the relationships between several variables in a mental health professional’s work environment including their self-esteem, clinical practice routines, and job satisfaction. It was found that there was a relationship between employee variances in job satisfaction and self-esteem (Finnøy, 2000). While it is important to note that correlation does not equal causation, the relationship between the two is significant and can bring insight as to questions you may have had, but did not know the answer to. For example, when I was an intern myself, I was not satisfied with the work I was doing. Day after day, I went through the grind of work, not knowing just how much it was impacting me until one of my friends said, “Hey, you really talk a lot of smack about your job. You never used to be that way. You’re not as confident as you used to be.”
That was my wake-up call. I didn’t know it at the time, but my work was affecting my self-esteem. My job satisfaction could have been a clue as to what was going on.
Why should job satisfaction be important to my employer?
One reason why job satisfaction should be important to your employer has to do with turnover intent. Turnover intent, an employee’s intention or plan in quitting their job, is negatively related to job satisfaction (Chou & Robert, 2008; Cunningham & Sagas, 2004). What this means is that the higher the job satisfaction, the less likely an employee will express turnover intent.
The reason why this is important for employers is due to the fact that turnover is costly to an organization. Very costly. Studies have asserted that turnover costs the company though both hard costs, such as paying overtime to make up for vacant positions (Selden, 2010), to soft costs, such as low employee productivity (Lambert et al., 2012).
What can I do about it?
If you are experiencing low job satisfaction at work, exploring what characteristics of your work environment are contributing to it is the first step in solving the problem. For example, if you feel that your work is not as intellectually stimulating, take note of it. If you feel as though your coworkers are not supportive, take note of that too. If you feel as though you are not a good fit for your job or position, that can also be something to take note of.
Once you identify what is contributing to you low job satisfaction at work, then identify whom you can talk to in order to resolve the problem. Perhaps you feel comfortable talking to your supervisor or manager. If not, then perhaps you can talk to human resources personnel about your situation and what they can do to help you resolve your problem. If you are experiencing low self-esteem, then consulting with your medical doctor, counselor, or mental health professional can help you get on the right track. Always keep in mind that there are resources available out there to help you achieve your goals and never forget that your own job satisfaction and success is important.
Chou, R., & Robert, S. A. (2008). Workplace support, role overload, and job satisfaction of direct care workers in assisted living. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 49(2), 208-222. Doi:10.1177/002214650804900207
Cunningham, G. B., & Sagas, M. (2004). Examining the main and interactive effects of deep- and surface-level diversity on job satisfaction and organizational turnover interventions. Organizational Analysis, 12(3), 319-332.
Finnøy, O. J. (2000). Job satisfaction and stress symptoms among personnel in child psychiatry in Norway. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 54(6), 397-403. Doi:10.1080/080394800750061379
Lambert, E. G., Cluse-Tolar, T., Pasupuleti, S., Prior, M., & Allen, R. I. (2012). A test of a turnover intent model. Administration in Social Work, 36(1), 67-84. Doi:10.1080/03643107.2010.551494
Selden, D. R. (2010). The effects of staff turnover on psychiatric rehabilitation programs. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 34(1), 71-73. Doi:10.2975/34.1.2010.71.73
Spector, P.E. (1997). Job satisfaction: Application, assessment, causes and consequences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.