Oxford Review Research Briefing
Is Your Personality a Good Predictor of Job Satisfaction?
A recent study by researchers in the USA looked at whether personality is a good predictor of job satisfaction. And the results may surprise you. According to research, personality only plays a small part in job satisfaction. Other factors, such as feedback, autonomy and experience are much more important when it comes to employees being satisfied in their work.
The concept of job satisfaction is probably one of the most researched areas of organizational psychology. This is probably because job satisfaction has been found to be a good indicator of motivation, intention to leave, work absence, commitment to a company, ability to cope with work-related stress and uncertainty, along with a range of other productivity factors.
Previous research found that low levels of job satisfaction leads to four main issues for organizations:
1. Negative employee attitudes that adversely affect job performance
2. Negative customer relationships and outcomes
3. Negative co-worker and worker/manager relationships including communication problems
4. Increased stress, absenteeism, burnout and dysfunctional behaviors, such as alcoholism
The study looked at a group of 87 police officers to see if there was a relationship between the level of job satisfaction staff reported using a standardized job satisfaction instrument called the Job Satisfaction Scale (JSS). Staff were then assessed on:
1. An instrument called the NEO-FFI – a personality indicator based on the big five personality traits
6. Years of experience
7. Level of education
8. Skill variety
9. Task identity
10. Task significance
11. Level of autonomy
12. Quality of feedback
Researchers discovered that:
1. Against all expectations, not one of the personality characteristics significantly predicted job satisfaction. In fact, they found that only about 9% of overall job satisfaction was down to personality. This is fairly insignificant. Even the type and the importance of tasks were found not to be good predictors of job satisfaction.
2. The only things that successfully and significantly predict job satisfaction are:
Feedback or the degree to which the employee receives clear information about their performance
The level of autonomy an individual has: the more an individual is free to make their own decisions, the more they will have a sense of responsibility and the higher the level of job satisfaction
Experience – Researchers found that people with 10-15 years’ service had the lowest levels of job satisfaction. Those just starting out and people with 15 or more years’ service displayed the greatest levels of job satisfaction
Miller, H. A., Mire, S., & Kim, B. (2016). Predictors of job satisfaction among police officers: Does personality matter? Journal of Criminal Justice, 37(5), 419-426.
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