Not all job satisfaction is the same. The differences lie in the details. It's worth taking a closer look.

By Yasemin Tahris
Published 31.03.2022

The simple question of job satisfaction is not as trivial as it seems.

Distinctions are rarely made, and the approach is usually only one-dimensional. Yet the topic is multi-layered: thoughts and feelings play a role, as does the permanent reflection of the current situation.

The organization's question about "job satisfaction" may require more clarification than it appears at first glance if the employee agrees positively. Job performance in the context of job satisfaction provides little insight. It becomes more interesting to look at engagement. This leads to the models of job satisfaction developed by the psychologist Agnes Bruggemann in the 1970s, which have lost none of their relevance.

Models of job satisfaction

The target-performance comparison

Employees develop a target value based on their needs. This is compared with the actual value from the work and evaluated. If the actual value exceeds the target value, satisfaction arises, if not, dissatisfaction spreads.

The aspiration level

When satisfied people raise their aspirations and become more ambitious, progressive satisfaction develops. The employee is not only satisfied with his work, but he even sees potential for increase in the future.

If the level of ambition is kept the same, we speak of stabilized job satisfaction.

Statements to this effect would be, "I am really satisfied with my work and wish that everything remains the same as before."1 So far so good, even from the company's point of view.

It becomes more critical when things go in this direction.

If the target/actual comparison turns out to be insufficient, the level of expectations is lowered because the employee has inwardly adapted to the negative circumstances and resignation spreads, resigned satisfaction arises.

If statements go in this direction: "I am really satisfied with my work. It doesn't exactly meet my expectations, but it could be much worse." 1 Then satisfaction is expressed but commitment is low.

In pseudo job satisfaction, the satisfaction formulation is based on a falsification of perception regarding the unsatisfactory situation. A defensive attitude is taken, the comparison here turns out just as negatively. Here, too, a high level of satisfaction can be expressed, but the commitment leaves much to be desired.

If the result of the personal target-performance comparison is negative and dissatisfaction arises, one can try to change the situation. In this case, we speak of constructive dissatisfaction. Of course, this is not very desirable from the organization's point of view, but it is possible to react.

If no attempt is made to change the situation, or if the situation appears hopeless because possibilities for positive change are not visible, this results in fixed dissatisfaction. Statements by employees to this effect are usually expressed unambiguously.

As a result, the formulation of the questions is the around and on to get the appropriate answers to be able to read out for the organization, how it is about the development status of the employees, and on which course the company is.

FLOWIT helps to conduct meaningful pulse surveys and to evaluate the results in real time. Recommendations for action and holistic analyses enable trends to be identified at an early stage and support well-founded decisions. This keeps your finger on the pulse of your organization, in real time.

1 Ex. Cf. Baumgartner & Udris, 2006