Personality and Job Satisfaction Term Paper

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Employee satisfaction might be one of the most difficult measures in management to quantify. There are so many ways to judge this factor, from self-evaluation to independent evaluation to more concrete numbers like productivity, which has been linked to job satisfaction.

There is no industry-wide standard for assessing employee satisfaction, and yet it is one of the most important factors in a successful work environment. This paper will explore the influence of an individual's personality and character traits on their job satisfaction; instead of seeing job satisfaction as a result of outside influences, I hypothesize that an employee's individual personality and attitude are important factors in his or her job satisfaction. That is to say, an employee who is otherwise unhappy and gloomy will most likely not be happy in his or her workplace either, and conversely, an employee with a positive outlook and an upbeat personality will be satisfied and fulfilled in the workplace.

This paper will first explain the concept of personality, of job satisfaction, and of the relationship between job satisfaction and productivity in the workplace. I will do this through examining various outside literature on these topics, most notably the definitions of personality and attitude from our textbook, the relationship between character traits and work behavior, and the relationship between outside influences and job performance and satisfaction.

After this examination of what constitutes personality and the possible influences that it may have on work performance, I will detail a "mini-survey" which was taken from the over 100 employees whom I supervise regarding their own personality traits and job satisfaction. The results of this survey were then combined with my own evaluations of the employees as well as their productivity numbers to analyze the effects that personality and attitude have on employee satisfaction, which, in turn, affects our productivity. I will finally evaluate these findings in terms of how to best address the issue of personality and attitude in our workplace to encourage job satisfaction and thus, productivity.

Personality may be defined as "the overall profile or combination of stable characteristics that capture the unique nature of a person."

Personality is an important factor in a person's behavior, which is a person's response to a situation based on both the situation as well as his or her personality.

These two determinants -- personality and behavior -- are important factors in how an employee performs in the workplace as well as what type of attitude he or she has with regard to work. Although it has been studied and found that "a simple, direct linkage between job satisfaction and job performance often doesn't exist," this finding does not make the importance of job satisfaction to job performance any less important; it only means that it is more difficult to gauge and measure.

Personality has been evaluated traditionally through an examination of the "Big Five" personality traits -- these traits, scholars say, give an accurate perception of a person's overall personality. The traits evaluated in this Big Five theory are adjustment, sociability, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and intellectual openness.

Adjustment includes a person's self-confidence and mood stability; sociability addresses a person's attitude toward others (friendly and outgoing or shy and quiet); conscientiousness involves responsibility and dependability; agreeableness addresses if a person is warm and polite or uncaring toward others; and finally, intellectual openness assesses if a person is imaginative and curious or literal-minded.

These traits give a better, more standardized assessment of someone's personality and are the criteria that will be utilized in my own study to assess employee's attitudes and personality traits.

Having a full definition of personality, I will now move on to examining the studies of personality on individual employees' job satisfaction. As noted earlier, a direct linkage between job satisfaction and job performance is difficult to establish; however, indirect effects of job satisfaction and overall personality traits have been made with regard to job performance and other important criteria, such as likelihood of seeking other employment.

Although the examination of personality and job satisfaction is an involved one, I believe that the literature shows that individual employees' personality does influence their job satisfaction, and that an employee's happiness in the workplace has an important effect on their performance and productivity.

At least one study has addressed the importance of hiring employees based on their "fit" with the organization as a whole, and not just the fit between an applicant's knowledge, skills, and abilities with their direct job duties.

An employee must feel a connection with their organization as a whole in order to feel their best about the job which they are assigned to, and will do their best work when they feel as though the overall goals of the organization are aligned with their own goals and values. This idea of "organizational commitment" is discussed in our textbook as "the strength of an employee's involvement in the organization and identification with it."

It involves loyalty to the organization as well as the willingness to go "above and beyond" the immediate job duties in order to further the goals of the organization; I believe that this organizational commitment has a direct effect on productivity since employees who are loyal to the organization will be more satisfied in their jobs due to this and will also be willing to perform at a higher standard, thus increasing their productivity by managing their job satisfaction.

In examining these varied relationships, it seems evident that an individual's overall personality and character traits would influence their job satisfaction. However, the leap from one to the other is not so simple, especially when attempting to quantitatively analyze such a theory. The textbook examines the links between attitude and general personality traits to behavior in terms of general vs. specific attitudes and the behaviors which they can be used to best predict. General attitudes, such as a person's overall feelings toward religion, are not a good indicator of specific behaviors, such as if that person will donate to a church-related charity.

But if the situation was attempting to predict general behavior as opposed to specific, the person's general antipathy toward religion would become a more important factor, since people who are generally averse to something (religion, in this case) will be generally less likely to participate (attending church services regularly, for example).

In applying this idea of general attitudes vs. specific attitudes and their predictive value to business and management practices, one might separate the idea of "general" loyalty to the organization from "specific" likes or dislikes with regard to daily tasks. An employee might be generally happy in their job, but specifically dislike their operating system on the computers in their department. These different definitions of attitude and how it influences behavior make gauging employee satisfaction based on attitudes and personality traits especially complicated and subjective.

In creating a method of evaluating employee personality, then using this information to judge overall employee satisfaction as well as performance, I tried to incorporate most aspects of personality and attitude in a manner that would give an accurate assessment of the individual's "big five" personality traits. I did this by making five questions in the mini-survey self-descriptions from the definition of the "big five" traits; in other words, five of the questions in the mini-survey asked if employees would describe themselves as "gregarious and outgoing" or "shy and more withdrawn" in order to judge the employee's self-evaluation of sociability, for example.

The first five questions on our mini-survey addressed these "big five" concepts and allowed the employees to self-evaluate. The following five questions allowed employees to express how they believed other saw them, for example, if someone considered themself to be dependable but knew that others considered them impulsive, that would be a factor in determining their overall conscientiousness. Obviously, self-evaluations are not always accurate; many times a person may consider themselves to be one way when others see them in a completely different light. These five questions (based again, on the Big Five personality traits) allowed for more information regarding how the employee is perceived by his or her peers. These questions were rated on a one to five basis, with one relating to one side of the Big Five personality traits (i.e., shyness, literal-mindedness) and five relating to the other side (i.e., gregariousness, confidence in self). A three, for example, would signify a neutral response to the question, with variance to either side signifying a predisposition to that particular trait.

After these ten questions regarding personality, the mini-survey moved on to job satisfaction criteria. Questions regarding an employee's overall satisfaction with work included how secure they felt their job was, how likely they were to seek other employment, if they enjoyed the company of coworkers and supervisors personally, if their job challenged them, if their job interested them, if they were happy with the physical conditions in which they worked, and if they were happy with pay, benefits, and rewards offered by their position. The second half of the mini-surveys used simple one to…[continue]

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