In this section, a review of the literature on the topic of human resources management, particularly on the topic of employee satisfaction and workforce motivation will be performed. In the first part, the importance of people management towards organizational performance, success and attainment of competitive advantage will be discussed. Then, the concepts and literature related to job satisfaction will be articulated. Later, the discussions move to work motivation. Lastly, the existing literature related to relationships between work motivation and job satisfaction will be presented.
People management is a very important topic in business and management. This is not surprising, as businesses are ultimately about people, and people is often cited as the key sources to the success, profitability, growth or even the attainment of competitive advantage of an organization in today highly dynamic and competitive business environment (Matheny, 2008). It is also reasonable to expect that human talents will increasingly playing more important roles in the success of business organization, and should be paid serious attention in managing a corporation, as the economic situation will likely to become more turbulent, challenging and fast changing in the next decades (Joseph et. al., 2010). Indeed, many scholars argued that human resources management is perhaps the most important functions in any organization, and is the sources of sustainable competitive advantage and above average growth rate and profitability for any company, because, ultimately, it is about the people that get the work done, and deliver the products or services to the marketplace for high customer satisfactions and in the most effective and efficient manner (Danish & Usman, 2010). This is not hard to understand, as it is all about human in business setting, and the workforce are the crucial contributors that put everything together, combining, integrating and utilizing the various resources in the value delivery process towards production of the end products or in providing services to the customers or consumers. Without a team of talented people, nothing much can be achieved.
Indeed, the success of many reputable, respectable and profitable companies in today business setting can be attributed to the effective management of human resources. It is the possession of human talents, or the capability of the management team in these highly successful organizations to engage and motivate the workforces towards high work ethics and motivation to serve the customers in the best possible manner. Tesco is one good example, whereby the success of Tesco can often be attributed to the effective management of human resources in the organization (Humby et. al., 2004). According to Plimmer (2010), Tesco is a firm that places the employees first, while the customers second. By ensuring the employees are satisfied, motivated and engaged, the customers of Tesco can be served better. Thus, employees satisfaction in Tesco is translated into customer satisfaction – which is an essential factor leading to extraordinary growth of Tesco around the globe. Indeed, Tesco is well aware of the importance of people management towards organizational success in the competitive business environment today. As discussed by Pollitt (2010), Tesco has been concentrating on developing internal leaders in the organization, and the capability of developing talents and maintaining them in a motivated condition is the key success factor of Tesco in other countries. Yet, Southwest Airlines is also another high profile company with great success – despite operating in the highly competitive airlines industry (where many of the airlines operators had gone bankruptcy in recessionary times) (Hardage, 2006). As discussed by Czaplewski et al. (2001), the success of Southwest Airlines is due to successful internal marketing – the philosophy of ensuring the employees satisfaction for better customer satisfaction in the company. Indeed, the respectable reputation of Southwest Airlines is largely due to the high level of friendly and caring services provided by the employees to the customers (Miles et. al., 2005). It is through the engagement of workforce in the company that drives the superior growth rate of the airlines operator in the past decades (Rhoades, 2006). Indeed, there are many examples on how effective people management contributes successfully to the performance of a company. Apart from the example mentioned above, companies such as Wal-Mart, Google, Toyota, Honda, and many others achieved the extraordinary success through effective people management.
In the context of people management, job satisfaction is an important topic. This is because one of the crucial ideas about people management is that it is important to ensure that the workforce able to derive satisfaction from the work itself. In fact, as argued by McShane and Von Glinow (2010), job satisfaction is perhaps the most studied attitudes in the context of organizational behaviors. The amount of researches on job satisfaction is not surprising, as job satisfaction is an essential emotion that will affect the behaviors and attitudes of workforce – which in turn will have significant impacts on key performance indicators of any organization, such as customers’ satisfaction, product quality, financial performance and operational efficiencies. Technically speaking, satisfied employees tend to have more positive evaluation, observations or emotional experiences with or on their job or job environment. It can be characterized by different dimensions or attitudes of a particular employee towards the different aspects of the job scope or the job environment.
The studies about factors contributing or affecting job satisfaction is abundance. A study performed by Back, Lee and Abbott (2011) found that internal service quality, which is measured by several dimensions such as training, communication, and perceived benefits by employees are found to have positive impacts on job satisfaction among 328 Korean casino dealers. Thus, the authors suggested that manager can and should enhance the quality of effective communication strategies with the employees, to have proper career development programs and utilize effective empowerment to enhance job satisfaction level in an organization. Such argument is also validated by a study by Shahzad et. al. (2011) on career growth opportunities to the degree of job satisfaction among workforce in public sectors of Pakistan. Thus, it is crucial to ensure relevant policies are in place to ensure the workforce to perceive that they have possibilities or bright prospect on carrer advancement opportunities. In another survey performed by Pedrycz, Russo and Succi (2011), it is commented that factors such as communication, work sustainability and work environment has direct effects against job satisfaction. Apart from that, scholars such as Katsikea et. al. (2011) found that job characteristics such as job autonomy, job variety and job feedback will enhance the job satisfaction level of managerial staffs. Accordingly, managers having more autonomy in job tend to be more satisfied. Having more variety in job functions will also enhances job satisfaction, and chances to receiving feedback from more senior managers will also enhance their satisfaction level on the job. The findings that empowerment has direct and positive relationships to job satisfaction is also recorded by Akbar et. al. (2011). It is found that employee empowerment has positive statistical significant relationships to job satisfaction in Pakistani services industries. Apart from that, a study by Sell & Cleal (2011) also suggested that social supports in workplace tend to be positively related to job satisfaction. This indicates that people are simply social beings and they tend to derive pleasure and happiness by feeling belonged to a group of friends or co-workers. In a similar vein, study by Miao (2011) also discovered that organizational support is essential element in enhancing job satisfaction among employees, in the research about supervisors in state-owned enterprises in China. Apart from that, the timing of promotion and the employees’ expectation on their chances of being promoted will also enhance job satisfaction. A research conducted by Kosteas (2011) found that employees tend to be satisfied after being promoted in the past 2 years. Not only is that, an employee will also tend to feel more satisfied in a job when he expect himself to be promoted in the next two years.
There are also many researches performed to investigate less famously known variables to the degree of job satisfaction by employees. For example, according to Giannikis & Mihail (2011), it is found that work status, namely part time or full time employment, does have significant impacts against job satisfaction. According to their study, it is discovered that part time employees in the retail sectors in Greece is less satisfied. It is then commented that employees’ preferences for working hours and their expectation on certainty of reward is crucial for job satisfaction. Besides, it is also found by May-Chiun and Ramayah (2011) that availability of career mentoring by supervisor indeed will enhance job satisfaction, according to their research on 156 executives in small and medium enterprises in Malaysia. The researchers argued that the importance of job mentoring to job satisfaction is neglected and worth paying attention by practitioners. Yet, in an interesting study by Akbar et. al. (2011) on the differences of gender to job satisfaction in Pakistani service industry, it is found that the male employees generally derive higher job satisfaction from their jobs, when compared to the female employees. Besides, a study by Allameh et. al. (2011) also discovered that organizational learning capabilities have direct relationships to job satisfaction. This is perhaps due to the argument that companies that keep adapting and learn faster tend to have more challenging and interesting job scope for the workforce (which is in turn important and impactful against employees’ job satisfaction).
However, it is found that not all organization variables have relationships to job satisfaction. For example, in a study by Olasupo (2011), it is discovered that there is not statistically significant relationships between organizational culture and leadership styles to job satisfaction. Besides, not all variables will have proportional and direct relationships to job satisfaction, although these variables may be found to be positively related to job satisfaction in other studies. For example, according to the study by Sell & Cleal (2011), it is discovered that there is only so much can be enhance in terms of job satisfaction, by increasing the rewards provided to the workforce. To a certain level, monetary rewards, for example, may no longer powerful or have significant impacts against job satisfaction. This indicates that job satisfaction cannot be enhanced purely by provision of financial rewards to the workforce. There are more to be done to improving job satisfaction in workplace.
There are many evidences that job satisfaction can affect the performance of the particular employees, as well as the performance of an organization (Furnham et. al., 2009). When people are satisfied and feel more fulfilled from the job, they are more likely to perform the work voluntarily, pay more attentions to the details, more willing to go the extra mile, less likely to resign from the job or quit the job position to join the competitors, or less likely to engage in the violence behaviors in workplace (Jeffords et. al., 1997). Apart from that, particularly in the services oriented industry, when the workforces are satisfied with the job, they will be more able to serve the customers better. Better job satisfaction can reduce the risks faced during implementation stages of a project. For example, according to the study by Pedrycz et. al. (2011), job satisfaction often can enhance collaborative work, such as knowledge sharing between team members, as well as able to reduce the risk of failures in development of software products. Overall, it is obvious from the literature that job satisfaction is likely to enable a firm to perform better, growth faster and to produce more happy and loyal customers in the increasingly competitive marketplace.
Work motivation is yet another crucial topic in the issue of people management. It is widely acknowledged that people require certain degree of motivation to move forward, to work hard, and to achieve the goals and missions stated by the management (Agarwal, 2010). Effective management or leadership is often cited as the ability of the business manager to motivate the workforce to engage and work together for the fulfillment or achievement of certain organizational goals (Tomer, 1982). When people are motivated, they will more likely to become more proactive in handling the challenging tasks assigned to them. They will be more engaged in taking up the necessary duties and responsibilities to the completion of the tasks assigned to them. Not only is that, they are more likely to become more creative and innovative in handling difficult situation or problem solving. The motivation level of workforce will be essential in determining the moral of the organization, and hence the competitiveness of the organization with respect to the other competitors.
In the study of organizational behaviors and human resources management, the theories regarding motivation is never lacking. For example, a research on the business management textbook on organizational behaviors, can found many theories and concepts related to human or workforce motivation, which include: the famous theory of Maslow’s Hierarchy Needs, the Four Drive Theory of Motivation (i.e., drive to acquire, drive to bond, drive to learn and drive to defend), the Expectancy Theory of Motivation, the concepts of Goal Setting and Goal Orientation as Motivator, Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Motivations, Equity Theory of Motivation (i.e., inequity can de-motivate employees), and Herzberg Theory of Motivation (McShane & Von Glinow, 2010). The different theories perceive and investigate the issues of motivation from different perspectives. The validity and the theoretically sound arguments and concepts related to these different theories makes the management of workforce motivation a complex issue. In different context, certain theories may be more relevant to the others; and experiences definitely are crucial for proper applications of the different theories in workplace.
There are many elements or factors that can possibly affect the degree of motivation of workforce in organization. For example, as argued by Joseph and Dai (2010), the characteristics, structure and nature of an organizational structure can have profound impacts against workforce motivation. If the organizational structure is not relevant or conducive to the enhancement of motivation or morale of workforce in workplace, low morale in the organization is likely. According to the authors, the organizational system that has most significant and lasting impacts on the issues of employees’ motivation is about organizational rewards system. This is because depending on the style and the characteristics of the reward system, employees may behave differently. The reward system is so powerful that it can affect the workforce motivation and be used as the means to shape workforce behaviors. If the reward system is formulated effectively, employees will be motivated accordingly, and thus, more willing to work proactively and committedly toward realization of organizational goals or missions.
Apart from organizational system, Mahal (2009) also argued that organizational culture has significant impacts against workforce motivation. In the study conducted by Mahal (2009), it is found that a total of eight dimensions of organizational culture are found to be positively correlated to workforce motivation. The eight different dimensions of organizational culture discovered include: pleasant workplace environment, the degree of team work and support in workplace, effective management process, the degree of employee involvement in projects, the proper reward and recognition practices, performance orientation as well as the determination of management for extraordinary performance of the organization. The research findings from Mahal (2009) are sensible, as all of these dimensions of organization culture have positive impacts on workforce motivation as these factors are also often argued as crucial elements affecting workforce motivation in business textbooks.
Of one particularly interesting and yet sometimes misunderstood issues of motivation is about the use of monetary rewards or compensation as effective means of motivating employees in workplace. Generally speaking, it is agreed that monetary rewards is an important factors in affecting employees’ motivation in workplace (Rose, 2010). This is common sense, as for most of the people, they work for money, or else, they would be rather sit or relaxing at home. However, researcher such as Matheny (2008) argued that money cannot be used as the only means to enhance workforce motivation, and in the long run, there are other more crucial factors to be paid attention by manager in enhancing workforce motivation in any organization. Accordingly, money does not mean happiness, and not everyone may be motivated effectively by financial rewards. Such argument may be true, and yet, from the opinions of Vilma and Egle (2007), financial rewards is necessary as insufficient pay or compensation for the employees will definitely cause them to become unsatisfied and not motivated to work. In such a view, monetary rewards should be sufficient and adequate to prevent people from getting de-motivated in workplace. In a similar way, Dewhurst et. al. (2010) argued that financial compensation must be fair in order to ensure workforce motivation. It is pointed out that unfair pay will often be the causes leading to unsatisfied employees, and hence, in the longer run, lower motivation and moral in the organization.
Perhaps one of the mostly neglected factors by practitioners that have profound impacts to workforce motivation is about recognizing the employees. As argued by Laurence (1973), one of the best and yet free way to motivate workforce is to recognize and praise the employees, whenever they are caught doing something correct or good. The act or affirming and recognizing the performance of employees will be highly effective in motivating the employees in repeating the desired actions again in the future. It is simply human nature to seek recognition, and affirmation in the context they are doing something good or contributing to the team or organization.
Yet, from another perspective, it is also often argued that in order to enhance motivation of workforce, goal settings are necessary. Through goals settings, employees are taught to see the future, the vision, and get energized in achieving the dream or vision. The very nature of the hope, vision or desires will be the sources or energy, motivating the employees to move forward. Besides, by having goals, and taking steps by steps efforts in the fulfillment of the goals, seeing and witnessing their personal growth and improvement, as well as the pleasure and satisfaction gained from the fulfillment and realization of the predetermined goals, people simply get more motivated to work harder and move faster in order to complete the goals or tasks planned earlier (Brown & Huning, 2010; Orpen, 1997).
According to many of the researchers, the concepts of job satisfaction and work motivation is linked or related. Generally speaking, it is reasonable to expect that employees that are more satisfied with their jobs are more motivated to work or perform in the workplace (Brown, 2010). For example, when people are happy, they are more enthusiastic, motivated and committed in completing the tasks assigned to them (Whitaker, 2010). In a study by Chen and Chih (2011), it is found that learner that are motivated tend to be more satisfied with their learning progress. Statistically significant correlation coefficients are found between the two variables – learner motivation and learner satisfaction. Such research indicates that both motivation and satisfaction are two highly related variables in the context of human behaviors and performance. However, the relationships between job satisfaction and work motivation may not be one directional in nature. It is also possible that when people are motivated, they become more satisfied with the job scope or work environment. Nonetheless, it is widely perceived that both of the variables are interrelated and associated. In this section, a review of the previous literature or empirical evidences available on the relationships between job satisfaction and work motivation, primarily focusing on the business management and human resources management context, will be conducted.
The existence of strong linkages between motivation and satisfaction is well aware by researchers. Robinson (2010) separates the motivation into two dimensions, namely intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. It is articulated that the different types of motivation have different impacts to the satisfaction level of employees. It is argued that extrinsic motivators, designed to enhance the motivation of workforce through reward system, workplace design, workplace environment and work structure , has more transient effects against employee’s satisfaction. In contrast, intrinsic motivators, which are associated with the personality, inner strengths, talents and personal achievement, have much more lasting effects against employee’s satisfaction. Thus, it is urged that management should focus more on identify the personal gifts or talents, and to matched that special talents to the job requirements to produce lost lasting satisfaction among workforce. In short, it is about aligning the workforce talents and inner gifts to the requirements of work characteristics that will enable the workforce to perform, get motivated, and in turn deriving great satisfaction from works. Brown and Huning (2010), however take the research of intrinsic motivation to greater depth. The researchers went beyond intrinsic motivation to understand if goal orientation strategies are likely to affect job satisfaction. In their model, aside from intrinsic motivation, different types of goal orientations attitudes will have significant effects against job satisfaction. The different goal orientations attitudes were separated into: learning goal orientation and performance goal orientation. It is found that goal orientations indeed will affect positively job satisfaction. Yet, in another interesting study by Furnham et. al. (2009), it is discovered that personality as well as the personal traits (characterized by Big Five personality traits) tend to have impacts on motivation and satisfaction. The study contribute by pointing out that individual differences may have the different impacts towards personal motivation and satisfaction. The personal differences identified in the study include factors related to personality and demographics. In a similar vein, White et. al. (2010) conducted a research to study the motivations of police officers to their job satisfaction in New York. The authors defined satisfaction as a proxy measure of motivation fulfillment. In short, satisfaction is derived from fulfilling a particular motivation (i.e., desires). In the research, it is found that unfulfilled motivations (i.e., desires) will lead to lower job satisfaction. Thus, it can be reasonably argued that motivation is often a required element for work satisfaction. Yet, in another comprehensive research by Danish and Usman (2010), it is found that different dimensions of work motivation and satisfaction in their research are significantly correlated. It is found that both reward and recognition are having great impacts on motivation of the employees. Stringer et. al. (2011) found that intrinsic and extrinsic motivations have different impacts against job satisfaction. It is found that extrinsic motivation is negatively related to job satisfaction, while intrinsic motivation is positively related to job satisfaction. According to the scholars, it is suggested that the most significant evidences from their research that will affect job satisfaction directly is about the fairness of pay and wages to the employees. Especially for front line employees, perceptions of pay fairness have significant impacts against job satisfaction. Although it may not be conclusive to mention that intrinsic motivation will surely lead to job satisfaction in all situations or for any individuals, the many available empirical evidences and arguments from literature support the notion that intrinsic motivation often lead to job satisfaction.
From another perspective, there are also many literatures in the recent years investigating about the relationships between work motivations to satisfaction in business management and organizational context from different countries of different industries around the world. According to a study by Saleem et. al. (2010) in mobile telecommunication service organization in Pakistan, it is discovered that work motivation and job satisfaction are interrelated. However, it is commented that the relationships discover between job satisfaction and work motivation is not a strong one, judging from a low R-square values obtained from their research findings. In another study by Springer (2011), it is found that there are some degree of relationships between job satisfaction and work motivation among workforce in banking industry. However, according to him, it is mentioned that both work motivation and job satisfaction, in combination are powerful and statistically significant predictors of job performance. Huang (2011), however take another approach is investigating the relationships between work motivation and job satisfaction. According to him, it is found that there are evidences supporting the notion that work characteristics that are motivating are the contributors of job satisfaction, among both clue collar workers in China and Japan. Such a positive relationships is also true in a research conducted by Munaf (2009) on work motivation and satisfaction among both private and public university teachers in Pakistan and Malaysia. Again, the work motivation and satisfaction are found to be correlated in a study by Leat and El-Kot (2009) on a survey in Egypt.
Thus, it is apparent that the relationship between work motivation and satisfaction is well recorded and easily observed in different countries, across culture, different industries and different context. It can be roughly confidently deduced that the two variables are highly inter-related, and associated in the context of human beings. There are many empirical evidences in the context of human resources management available in the literature supporting such notions.
To summarize, it can be seen that motivation and satisfaction are two crucial elements and factors contributing to effective and successful management or an organization. The literatures related to such topic are abundance; as people intuitively recognize the importance of such topic to firm performance in the competitive business landscape. There are many factors contributing to job satisfaction in workplace. Similarly, there are many strategies or techniques can be employed to enhance workforce motivation for better firm performances. The many studies on the relationships of motivation and satisfaction are presented in paragraphs above as well. Both of the variables are statistically correlated and theoretically related in the context of people management. It is management imperatives to ensure high level of work motivation and job satisfaction in the organization, for better firm performance in the future.