Conventional wisdom holds that there is a strong connection between job satisfaction and performance. The general concept is that when an employee is happy with his or her working situation, the level of efficiency exhibited by that employee will be higher. Over the years, many employers and employees alike have held to this belief, and placed a great deal of emphasis on making sure employees are satisfied with their jobs in order to trigger the desired outcome of higher productivity. There are others who hold that there is no direct connection between job satisfaction and performance, but that the two are indirectly linked based on the personality of the employee rather than any type of direct correlation.
Popular wisdom draws a direct link between job satisfaction and performance. If the employee is assigned tasks that are in line with his or her skill sets, can be performed in a reasonable period of time, and leave the employee with a sense of accomplishment at the end of the work day, the idea is that the level of performance will be higher. The employee benefits from deriving some personal satisfaction from a job well done, while the employer benefits from increased productivity. The employee satisfaction may be enhanced by rewards offered by the employer in response to the increased performance, such as an increase in salary or wages, a promotion, or some other form of recognition.
Conversely, low job satisfaction has been thought to be directly linked to poor job performance. Essentially, if an employee is assigned tasks outside the scope of her or her expertise, and has difficulty managing those tasks, the level of satisfaction with the job is greatly decreased. This can result in the development of an apathetic attitude within the employee that in turn leads to decreased performance and a loss to the employer.
Proponents of the idea that there is a direct connection between job satisfaction and performance note that by making the best use of employee skills by assigning tasks that are in line with those talents, the employee is happier on the job and shows that happiness by being more productive. In addition, taking steps to recognized and reward employees for work well done in turn increases loyalty to the employer and adds to the satisfaction, setting the stage for continued high performance levels.
An alternative to this understanding of the connection between job satisfaction and performance focuses more on the mindset and attitude of the employee being the factor that has an effect on both job satisfaction and performance. Within the scope of this theory, it is the personality of the employee that ultimately determines how happy an individual is with his or her job and how much effort is put into the assigned tasks. Attributes such as the emotional stability of the employee, his or her level of self-esteem, and even the general work ethic of the individual determine whether or not the employee is satisfied with the job and how much effort will be put into performing at optimum levels. With this understanding, job satisfaction and performance are the results of the employee’s internal processes and not directly related to the efforts of an employer to make the workplace and the assigned tasks a good fit for the employee.
Debate on whether there is a direct correlation between job satisfaction and performance or simply the results of the employee’s own personality and mindset has been engaged for a number of years and will likely to still be debated for many more. With research used to support both concepts, employers and employees alike are more likely to answer the questions within their individual settings based on what mindset the employee brings into the workplace, what the employer does to equip the employee to work effectively within the setting, and how both regard the role of the other in making the workplace a productive atmosphere. For this reason, a simple answer that fits every situation may not be possible.