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Theoretical Constructs regarding Aspects of Employment

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In ancient civilizations, humans worked to survive. People originated as hunters and gatherers, then settled into agrarian roles. Later, with improved transportation and opening of trade routes, centers of commerce developed and businesses grew that required employees. The industrial revolution solidified the concept that many people would work for others, in establishments or factories, and spend a considerable amount of time at work and away from home. Therefore, issues related to job satisfaction, motivation, personality, recruitment and selection affect most employees today. If the workplace brings pressure and stress, job performance suffers and retention is unlikely. The points related to job satisfaction are important for both employees and employers to recognize and address, to insure a healthy work climate and a healthy worker.

Motivation and Job Satisfaction
There are numerous theories and principles tied to motivation that leads to job satisfaction. One of them is that of intrinsic motivation (Guo et al., 2014). People who are interested in their work, curious to find ways to improve performance and in general invested in what they do will be motivated. These people will work for more than just a paycheck, and in fact be willing to work for less if they feel internal satisfaction. Communication with others (Maier, et al. 2012) and feedback concerning the job they are doing also enhances the job satisfaction of those who are intrinsically motivated.

Another aspect concerning motivation is work environment or business climate, which in turn impacts job satisfaction (Scheers & Botha, 2014). There are a number of particular details or benefits that employers can offer that reflect positively on their work environment, leading to satisfied, motivated employees. Scheers and Botha’s study enumerated ten specific ways in which modern businesses could motivate their employees and increase job satisfaction. First, they listed flexible work arrangements that accommodate the needs of employees, especially those with family obligations (Scheers & Botha, 2014). Shared jobs is one way in which two people can work one job (at a reduced salary of course) but still have time for other responsibilities, such as child-rearing. A second element of motivating and satisfying employees is offering training and professional development classes. While some businesses prefer to hold in-house seminars, there are also numerous educational groups for various types of employment that employees should be encouraged to attend. Not only does the training give the worker a break from the daily grind for a worthwhile purpose, it insures that employees are aware of the latest information and techniques in their field. Trying to appeal to the intrinsic motivation is another measure listed by Scheers and Botha. They state that if employees are provided “interesting work that…allows worker opportunities to ‘put his or her signature’ on the finished product” (Scheers & Botha, 2014, 100), the employees will work with more drive and creativity. Indeed, creative opportunities and opportunities to take lead or responsibility, even over small matters, will motivate workers (Scheers & Botha, 2014, 100). Job security and a responsive management are essential to workers satisfaction, as well as feedback which was mentioned previously.

Some employers embrace flexibility and diversity by providing childcare facilities onsite or even exercise areas, both of which are becoming more common, particularly in the IT community that has been under assail for failure to hire women and minorities or accommodate their needs (Catelyn, 2015). Along with up-to-date training for employees, Scheers & Botha stress the importance of up-to-date technology, especially in this internet-driven world with media and eCommerce dominance. Finally, providing competitive salaries and in-house promotion opportunities will increase motivation and satisfaction at the workplace.

There has been some criticism that requiring training, particularly in the field of computer use, threatens some employees (Maier et al., 2013). Younger employees often are more technologically savvy, and long-term employees may view them, as well as increased IT dependence as a threat. One way to combat this is to seek employee input prior to instituting change, so that progress occurs in ways that are owned by all employees, and not seen as an attempt to replace them or devalue their experience.

PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC) and AT&T have both been singled out by such organizations as Diversity, Inc. as leaders in the areas mentions by Scheers and Botha (Diversity, Inc., 2015). These corporations provide childcare in-house, sponsor forums and interest groups for employees with similar challenges, and have outstanding records for hiring women, minorities, and challenged individuals. They both have training programs and scholarships to encourage those without the means to qualify for employment, and take part in community functions. Businesses who exhibit ethical practices within the local and business community do not go unnoticed by consumers. Many purchasers are concerned with whether or not companies they do business with are environmentally responsible, and it has been shown that corporations with a healthy representation of women on their boards of directors actually are more profitable than those that are run solely by men (Gates, 2014). Thus the implications are clearly supported by examples of major businesses that making choices to motivate employees will not only result in job satisfaction, but reflect well in terms of client perception and ethical reputation, increasing profits and customer satisfaction.

Many recent empirical studies have related personality traits of employees with job satisfaction (Heller, Ferris, Brown, & Watson, 2009; Kim & Chung, 2014). While there are often considered to be two major personality types—extroverts and introverts—for whom types of jobs might be predicted, studies break this area into more components. One might expect that extroverts would prefer jobs where they interact with other persons, while introverts work better on their own with little interaction. According to Kim and Chung, however, there is a Big Five personality theory, and four out of those five are extremely important in relation to job satisfaction and productivity. Specifically, “extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, and conscientiousness” are examined by these researchers and found to play a significant role in job satisfaction (Kim & Chung, 2014, 659). Extroverts and conscientious persons are found to be able to find intrinsic motivation, either by seeking out others or making special efforts to do good work. Persons with low agreeableness or who exhibit neurotic tendencies, on the other hand, are found to be able to be effective employees, but with more effort on the part of their employers. Social networks are suggested as methods of encouraging interaction and increasing satisfaction (Kim & Chung, 2014).

Heller and his associates do not agree with the approach of Kim and Chung in the sense that they posit two distinct personalities: global and work. According to their research, the discrepancy arises because “global personality and otherrole-based (e.g., home) personality measures include patterns of behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that are less relevant to the focal role satisfaction level, focal work personality scales include only content that is directly related to the targeted role” (Heller, Ferris, Brown, & Watson, 2009, 1055). Thus, ascertaining personality type per evaluation and classification such as the Big Five or extrovert/introvert may have little bearing upon individuals, because they display different personalities at work than they do at home.

One major example of how the challenge that Heller’s group poses to traditional personality theory and job satisfaction is to examine the military, specifically using leadership styles. In general, Daniel Goleman, writing for the Harvard Business Review (2000) identified six leadership styles, illustrated in the original chart below:

Goleman explained that coercive leaders rule by fear, are effective, but generate no loyalty. Affiliative and democratic leaders are both affirming and seek input prior to decision-making, which works in some settings but not the military (Goleman, 2000). Pacesetters lead by example but often set unrealistic expectations for others; coaches take time to train and assist, which is also beneficial in some businesses but not in a military context when response time is crucial. According to Goleman, authoritative leadership, wherein management explains the purpose and entire concept to employees, is most effective in a military context. Others find it to be effective in a business situation as well (Abudi, 2011). In most cases, all personality types will respond well to leadership that is communicative, gives purpose, and is not overly demanding or harsh. Introverts or less agreeable types may need more coaching or respond to affiliation, but overall most people respond to reasoned, authoritative leadership with good performance, leading to job satisfaction.

Recruitment and Selection
Due to the competitive business climate existing today, there is a demand for well-qualified employees who will remain in their positions. Thus, many businesses emphasize human resource departments to develop programs based on solid recruitment and selection theories and principles. One of the key issues faced by HR departments is job advertising—both in content and scope of search (Jha & Bhatta, 2012). If HR departments do not accurately define the job, they may end up with overqualified applicants. Likewise, if they do not seek applicants from various sources, but limit searches to the same pool repeatedly, they will get a homogenous group of workers, that do not reflect the population in general or the client base. This can cause businesses to be out of touch with customer needs.

When overqualified applicants are placed in jobs, they are not likely to stay long. Thus retention is a problem, because someone has to cover for those employees during a repeated recruitment process. Also, if those hired are representative of a small sample of available applicants, there may be a lack of diversity that leads to loss of creativity from looking at situations from different perspectives. In addition, as was mentioned before, customers consider social responsibility when making purchases, and companies that do not appear responsive are failing to uphold standards that some might say they are ethically bound to meet (Diversity, Inc., 2015). The IT industry is perhaps the most glaring example of this, as most of their high level jobs are held by white men (or Asian men) (Gates, 2014). This has led to negative media and serious remedial action by some of the largest companies worldwide, such as Google and Microsoft. Following the lead of companies that have excellent records in areas such as diverse recruiting, the HR departments of many such companies with poor track records are now starting scholarship programs or internships for women and minorities to help level the field.

Factors increasing job satisfaction are necessary for companies in order to motivate employees, aid with retention, and basically make things run smoother by helping everyone get along. Not only does following suggestions such as those made by Scheers and Botha (2014) make sense, it makes cents. Companies perceived as ethical, responsible, and non-discriminatory gain good public reputations and earn more (Gates, 2014). In addition, recruitment practices can help select employees that will be motivated, satisfied and remain in their positions, easing retention issues.

The first issue is to help make employees feel satisfied and appreciated. This can be done through intrinsic means, such as interesting assignments, or with attractive benefits and fair compensation. Taking into account the personalities of employees and molding management or leadership style to be effective with individuals is also beneficial to increasing employee satisfaction. Recruitment that seeks diverse workers contributes to a well-rounded atmosphere. Success in job satisfaction is multi-faceted, but managers and HR departments can look to appeal to many types of employees in order to form a challenging, accepting work climate that will enhance public perception and therefore financial status. Satisfied employees matched well with their jobs and treated properly will be motivated, work harder, and stay. Thus combining aspects from theories of motivation, personality, and recruitment to achieve that work climate results in a win/win/win, for employees, businesses, and customers alike.

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