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Employee Attitudes

In: Business and Management

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Introduction Many organizations have pondered the subject of employee attitudes and job satisfaction. Research has been done on this subject, and it has been determined that there are 3 major knowledge gaps between HR practice and the scientific research. The article by Saari and Judge , “Employee Attitudes and Job Satisfaction” (2004), discusses not only what those gaps are but what could be done to bridge those gaps.
Employee Attitudes The first of the 3 knowledge gaps between HR practice and the scientific research is finding out what the causes of employee attitudes are. The most crucial of the employee attitudes is job satisfaction. The definition of satisfaction as seen by E.A. Locke in his 1976 published article was “a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one’s job or job experiences” (Saari & Judge, 2004). We tend to use both feeling and thinking when we appraise our jobs, just like when we evaluate something of importance to us in our lives,. One of the influences that is usually overlooked by HR specialists when considering job satisfaction is the work itself (Saari & Judge, 2004). There have even been a number of studies that show how one’s job satisfaction can be influenced by one’s temperament. It has also been indicated that the differences in temperament or disposition of some employees can be linked to their differences in job satisfaction, although that relationship has not been fully understood yet. An employee’s culture can also have an impact on their attitude or job satisfaction. Due to the fact that so many companies have multiple locations throughout the world, it would be logical to deduce that those same companies have a multi-cultural workforce. Recent analyses have shown that country and/or culture is as strong a predictor of employee attitudes as the type of job a person has (Saari & Judge, 2004). Work situation is also a factor that can influence job attitude. In a study that examined the importance of an employee’s job attributes, they ranked interesting work as the most important. When managers were asked the same question, they assumed employees would classify good wages as the most important (Saari & Judge, 2004). So, one of the first places HR and management needs to look when trying to determine what leads people to have job satisfaction should be nature of the work itself.
Consequences of Job Satisfaction
The second knowledge gap is in the subject of understanding the consequences of job satisfaction, or more simply put, the results of positive or negative job satisfaction. Some say that a satisfied employee is a productive employee, but an organization’s management is typically more interested in how that satisfaction affects the job performance. One study concluded that the relationship between job satisfaction and performance was trivial (Saari & Judge, 2004). However, other research has found that not being able to unearth the connection between job satisfaction and job performance was simply because of the restricted methods that were used to define job performance.
Measure and Influence Job Attitudes The third knowledge gap is in the topic of measuring and influencing employee attitudes. Of the numerous methods of measuring employee attitudes, it is a solidly constructed employee survey that will most likely get you accurate results. The two most validated of those surveys are the Job Description Index (JDI) and the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire (MSQ) (Saari & Judge, 2004). The JDI evaluates employee responses on specific subject areas, but the MSQ has greater flexibility in its uses. Regardless of the method used, the general idea behind these surveys is to get detailed information from the employees so it can be used to create a better working environment. However, one must be sure to keep in mind that some questions or topics could possibly mean different things in different cultures. Due to that issue, HR personnel must make sure that surveys given to employees take that culture into account.
Gap Resolution
The consensus seems to be that organizations must obtain research about the total employee attitude if they are ever going to create a better working environment. While obtaining the information is admirable, these companies must also be able to interpret that information. Obtaining and interpreting the data is necessary in order to change or improve employee attitude and increase job satisfaction. Organizations can even go a step further by comparing their data to the data of similar organizations to get a bigger picture of the gaps that exist, and what might be done to resolve them. Global organizations will most likely have to modify the research to fit the different locations the employees are in because the cultural diversity in employee attitude will no doubt exist. Regardless of the type or size of the organization, it appears evident that without effective employee surveys, adequate measures cannot be expected to lead to the changes necessary to improve employee attitude and job satisfaction within their organization.
Remaining Gaps Not all of the gaps that have existed or still exist can be solved with just a survey. HR practitioners must be able to develop, understand, and use the surveys to improve both employee attitude as well as job performance (Saari & Judge, 2004). Some have even turned their attention to more spontaneous and voluntary workplace behaviors that could enhance organizational functioning (Ilies, Fulmer, Spitzmuller & Johnson, 2009). One gap between HR and research that still remains in most organizations is the actual implementation of the knowledge obtained by these surveys into creating a better environment for employees. It has even been suggested that an employee’s performance can somehow be linked to their attitude and job satisfaction. To change or improve the performance of employees means that more accurate information is required for the HR personnel to know exactly where the problems exist. For organizations to bridge this gap, they should consider bringing in an outside source to perform the surveys necessary and gather the information that is required to determine adequate changes to make.

Conclusion Organizations can take all the surveys they want, but if they do not understand and analyze the knowledge obtained, the surveys are just a waste of time. No two organizations are the same, so the results for each survey taken should not be used as a “one size fits all” solution to be implemented. As the future of research evolves, so does the practitioner’s knowledge on interpreting the data received. What will be interesting to see in the future is whether an organization’s implementation of employee attitude improvements is pushed aside for a larger overall profit. Over time, both research and interpretation will improve to bridge the gaps between HR practitioners and employee attitudes. This will be a significant step to enhance both employee satisfaction as well as customer service, and it will create companies that employees enjoy working for.

Lise M. Saari, & Timothy A. Judge. (2004). Employee attitudes and job satisfaction. Human Resource Management, 43(4), 395-407. Retrieved February 24, 2012, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 750777861).
Hackman, J, & Oldham, G 1975, 'Development of the Job Diagnostic Survey', Journal Of Applied Psychology, 60, 2, pp. 159-170, PsycARTICLES, EBSCOhost.
Hofstede, G. (1985). ‘The interaction between national and organizational value systems’, Journal of Management Studies, 22, 347–357, ProQuest.
Locke, E. A. (1976). ‘The nature and causes of job satisfaction’, In M. D. Dunnette (Ed.), Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology (pp. 1297–1349), Chicago: Rand McNally.
Ilies, Remus, Ingrid Smithey Fulmer, Matthias Spitzmuller, and Michael D. Johnson. 2009. "Personality and citizenship behavior: The mediating role of job satisfaction." Journal Of Applied Psychology 94, no. 4: 945-959. PsycARTICLES, EBSCOhost

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