The Marketing department at Company X is going through a rough period. According to a recent employee satisfaction survey, attitudes in the department are declining and absenteeism is on the rise. It is necessary to identify the source of the job satisfaction trend and work to correct it. Before the problem can be addressed, it is necessary to understand the nature of job satisfaction.
Basics of Job Satisfaction
Job satisfaction is built on four basic building blocks: personality, values, work situation, and social influence. Research has shown that individual personality can account for as much as 30 percent of an individual’s job satisfaction. That same research also indicates that people tend to find jobs that mesh with their personalities. Personalities cannot be easily influenced by management within a reasonable amount of time. Values are similar to personality. Values generally describe what motivates an individual. Some people, for example, find value in the kind of the work they do, others are motivated by external factors such as compensation. The work situation is a factor that is directly under the control of the company. This factor describes everything about the employee’s job. Everything from the kind of work that is being done to the flexibility of scheduling is part of the work situation. Finally, social influence describes the collective attitudes and behaviors of the people the employee works with. This is another factor that the company can easily control should there be an issue (George & Jones, 2008).
Option #1: Change the Job
It may be the case that employee job satisfaction is declining because the job itself is no longer interesting to the employees. This might be the case if some change has decreased the autonomy or creativity of the employees. For example, if the Marketing department is working less because of economic factors, the employees might be bored with their work. Employees are motivated by jobs that have achievable goals and challenging assignments (Dessler, 2008). Unfortunately, it may not be possible to change the job description. It may be the case that the manager in charge of the department is unwilling to permit her employees to exercise creative freedom. Or, it may be the case that the economic downturn has forced major cutbacks in the Marketing department. When weighing these factors, it may be the case that attempting to improve the nature of the job is too costly.
Option #2: Improve the Work Environment
Employees come to work to earn a salary and gain access to benefits such as health insurance. This compensation is generally the bare minimum required to keep the employee coming back. Changes can be made to the work environment to encourage employee attendance and motivate employees to succeed. Flexible work schedules, telecommuting, and other family-friendly benefits can go a long way toward increasing employee job satisfaction. Some companies have found that benefits such as subsidized child-care, elder care benefits, and sick child time off have a direct impact on employee absenteeism and performance (Dessler, 2008). Unfortunately, these benefits are not without cost. Things like subsidized child care and elder care benefits have a direct cost in dollars. Schedule flexibility can impact the team dynamic if one person’s flexibility affects another. In other words, the same amount of work must be done, and it is important to ensure that absenteeism is not relabeled as flexibility.
Option #3: Improve Social Influences
The final option is to verify that the attitudes of the team are in sync. A change in management or a new employee may throw off the balance of individual personalities within a team. Restoring that balance might require the removal of an individual that is causing disharmony. This has the benefit of allowing the department to replace the trouble employee with someone that better meshes into the existing team. Additionally, the employee causing the trouble might be a perfect fit for another department. It is important to remember that just because an individual does not integrate well with one group, that does not disqualify adoption into another. The drawback of this approach is that it may not be clear which members of the team are problematic. It may be the case that one individual has introduced a negative attitude, but all team members have adopted it. The Human Resources department will have to work closely with the management of Marketing to determine when the problems started. Additionally, replacing a team member can be stressful for the team. While the new team member is brought up to speed on the operation of the department, other employees will have to take on extra duties to fill the void left by the departing employee.
In this case, all options should be taken to some extent. Although outside factors may be affecting how much work is available for the Marketing department, employees should be encourage to think creatively and explore opportunities. Although the company may not have the resources to pay for direct-cost benefits such as elder care and subsidized child care, schedule flexibility and telecommuting are inexpensive options. Allowing an employee to work from home on occasion gives them the opportunity to be available for scheduled home maintenance events or to focus on a project without the interruptions inherent in an office environment. Finally, if there is a problem employee, that situation must be dealt with. Hopefully, improving the nature of the job and the work situation will make this issue disappear. If it does not, the preferred solution is to find a new home in the organization for the struggling employee.
Dessler, G. (2008). Human resource management (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
George, J. M., & Jones G. R. (2008). Understanding and managing organizational behavior. (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.