If companies want to influence employee satisfaction or job satisfaction, they must take into account the individual needs of employees and their personal level of satisfaction.
What is employee satisfaction?
Satisfaction comes from within and describes a subjective sense of well-being. That means that our subjective evaluation influences how satisfied we are. While one person goes to work with a spring in their step and makes the most of each day, another feels weighed down by the same conditions. Employers can therefore influence employee satisfaction to a degree, but they do not have full control over how their employees feel at work. An increase in satisfaction can be achieved, for example, by adjusting general conditions or the spatial working environment. Another important factor is how well the job combines with the employee’s private life.
How does satisfaction manifest itself in the workplace?
Job satisfaction is usually linked to models of motivation theory and results from the comparison of desired working conditions (target) and perceived actual conditions (actual). The target-actual comparison, one’s own level of aspiration, problem-solving behaviour and perceived control determine a person’s job satisfaction and subjective attitude toward work.
There are various forms of (dis)satisfaction, some of which are presented below with “typical” statements on job satisfaction.
The expected and actual working conditions match. The person is satisfied and keeps their expectation at the same level.
"I am really satisfied with my job. The position here meets my needs and wishes, and I want everything to stay the same."
The perceived working conditions meet expectations. However, the satisfied person increases their level of aspiration and develops additional wishes or expectations. This leads to progressive satisfaction.
"I am really satisfied with my job. The position has met my needs and wishes so far and I can improve in the future."
Resignative satisfaction arises when individuals with negative target-actual comparisons reduce their level of aspiration and thus adapt to the negative circumstances of their work and resign themselves.
"I'm really happy with my job. The position doesn't exactly meet my needs and wishes, but it could be a lot worse."
When dissatisfaction is fixed, employees focus on the negative aspects of work and tend to become helpless. Possibilities for change are not seen.
"I am rather dissatisfied with my job. There are also no opportunities for me to do anything about this and improve my situation."
Employees strive for change and are not satisfied with what they perceive to be inadequate working conditions. They try to make changes to their situation and shape their working conditions.
"I am rather dissatisfied with my job. I'm trying to change this through my own efforts and with the help of others."