The human resource of any organization is one of the most valuable of all its resources. The continued productivity, innovation, commitment and contributory spirit of organizations employees can create a profitable and strong business in any industry. If these characteristics are lacking in the workforce for many of the employees the business can also be stifled and perform far below its capacity. There are many contributory factors associated with employee satisfaction and therefore optimal production and innovation. The literature on the subject is plentiful and demonstrative of process change and reaching goals of employee satisfaction that improve the bottom line as well as the whole environment of the business (Chang, Chiu, & Chen, 2010, p. 1299). According to Yee, Yueng, & Cheng, the link between employee satisfaction, service quality, customer satisfaction that leads to firm profitability is sound;
Using structural equations modeling, we found that employee satisfaction is significantly related to service quality and to customer satisfaction, while the latter in turn influences firm profitability. We also found that firm profitability has a moderate non-recursive effect on employee satisfaction, leading to a "satisfaction-quality-profit cycle." Our empirical investigation suggests that employee satisfaction is an important consideration for operations managers to boost service quality and customer satisfaction. (2008, p.651)
The links in the literature to employee satisfaction as a valuable and viable goal for quality improvement also lead researchers to seek to answer questions about how other quality management programs respond to the issues associated with employee satisfaction. This work will briefly look at some of the available literature that links quality management systems to employee satisfaction to develop a greater understanding of how these two elements of quality production work together.
Analysis of Literature
The type of quality management programs associated with this inquiry are those that attempt to create quality through constant development and change of processes. One example of this type of quality system is Total Quality Management (TQM). According to Yee Tsang & Antony "Total quality management (TQM) is an integrative management philosophy aimed at continuously improving the performance of products, processes and services to achieve and surpass customer expectations." (2001, p 132) Though TQM is not the only type of quality management system utilized by businesses to improve their overall performance and therefore their business it is one of the first in a trend, making it a good candidate for inquiry regarding the phenomena of quality management programs positively influencing employee satisfaction. Another example of a quality management system that is relevant to this work is lean production, which utilizes just in time inventory systems, continual improvement and quality circles that are team based and allow workers at every level to have input and involvement in production issues and job issues that might improve quality (Cappelli and Rogovski, 1998, pp. 636-637).
Much of the reading associated with this course demonstrates that quality management systems do indeed improve employee satisfaction based on logical scales of the phenomena. In other words the aspects that are measurable and that demonstrate a positive business environment for employees are positively linked to TQM and other quality management systems. For instance Cappelli and Rogovski (1998) demonstrate through primary research that employee empowerment (though they do not use this word directly) is linked to employee satisfaction. What this means in terms of this inquiry is that employees have greater job satisfaction when they have and are involved in making decisions that affect their work. Empowerment is another way to describe the phenomena associated with individual perceived and real decision making and input opportunities that improve the performance of employees. According to Pakdil the factors that should be used to better understand employee sentiments include; "employee turnover rate, # of employee complaints, employee satisfaction rate, attendance, suggestions sent by employees, and # of strikes (2010, p.246). Again in primary research performed by Pakdil, looking at a number of quality award winning companies he found that the length of time the TQM or other quality management system that was in place was significantly correlated to the areas of employee sentiments and behaviors that are demonstrative of higher productivity and higher customer satisfaction:
..Winners display a significant difference for employee turnover rate… in the fourth year (p=0,013), employee complaints… in the second, forth, and fifth year (p=0,033), employee satisfaction rate…in the second, and forth year (p=0,024), attendance after the fourth year (p=0,032), suggestions submitted by employees…in the first year (p=0,008) (p.242)