Closing the Scientist-Practitioner Gap: Relationship Between Job Satisfaction & Employee Performance

The job satisfaction-job performance relationship: A qualitative and quantitative review.
Judge, T. A., Thoresen, C. J., Bono, J. E., & Patton, G. K. (2001).
Psychological Bulletin
Vol. 127, pp. 376-407.

Across 312 Studies and 54,471 people, strong correlations and relationships were found between Job Satisfaction and Job Performance. The relationship between job satisfaction and production has been one of the most studied topics leading back to as far as the Hawthorne studies.

Within this article, Judge, Thoresen, Bono, and Patton write about the different qualitative and quantitative studies done in the past, and discuss new developments. The relationship between the two is so complex that it has been split into several models.

  1. A review of the scientific literature reveals there are some key factors at play for the relationship between employee satisfaction and job performance.
    • Chicken or the egg? – The relationship between job satisfaction and performance is likely reciprocal/bi-directional
      • Therefore, being satisfied increases job performance and being a good performer increases satisfaction!
    • The unidirectional relationship between job performance and job satisfaction showed mixed results and they were nonsignificant.
    • Job performance is affected by job satisfaction when people are compensated for their performance.
    • Research suggests that there is a weak correlation between pay and performance, rather, employees valued the nature of the work itself more.
    • Several studies suggest that self-esteem might play a role in the relationship.
    • One study found that positive emotions are related to job performance while another found that cognition and affect contribute to job satisfaction.
    • Other things that likely affect the relationship include organizational tenure, cognitive ability, need for achievement, career stage, pressure of performance, time pressure, job fit, & occupational group.
  2. Results
    • The overall job-satisfaction and job-performance correlation for the sample size was 0.18 while the estimated population correlation was 0.30 when it was corrected for unreliability in satisfaction and performance measures. The 95% confidence interval excluded 0 for this estimation.
    • The evidence suggested that there are moderators at play at the study level.
    • Moderators such as job complexity indicated that the correlation between the two is stronger in high-complexity jobs than low-complexity jobs. Scientists/ Engineers had a higher correlation than laborers – there was a significant difference between the occupations.

The link between job performance and satisfaction is complex.

When considering job satisfaction and performance, organizations should be aware that the relationship is complex and there are different factors that effect the relationship. Unfortunately, there is no perfect formula to increase either, but it should be looked at from a broader perspective.

Workforce Lifecycle Analytics has experience connecting the dots between these data points. For example, WLA conducts employee selection research and validates the relationships to performance. We also utilize employee survey research linking components of the employee experience to employee engagement/satisfaction. Therefore, if you’re thinking of boosting your employee performance, reach out today.

Article by Sahithi Ellanki & Brandon Jordan

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