Job Design: Employee Satisfaction and Performance in Retail Stores

Article excerpt

JOB DESIGN: EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION AND PERFORMANCE IN RETAIL STORES

Millions of Americans are employed in the retailing industry. Each day they cope with many of the same enviornmental and work-related concerns as factory and office workers who have been so intensively studied by behavioral researchers. Retailing work, like other forms of employment, consists of job dimensions, supervisors, social-psychological interaction, and most of the same ingredients found in other jobs. Since labor is one of a retailer's greatest costs, strategic management of personnel is necessary for high levels of productivity and return-on-investment.

Effective retail store management depends on satisfied, motivated, and loyal employees who will be productive, maintain assigned work schedules, and develop tenure with the firm. In order to attract and keep satisfied and productive employees, retail store managers must know which dimensions of the job are most important and most satisfying to employees.

Numerous approaches have been used to study behavior and attitudes in the workplace. This article reports the results of a study of the relationship between worker perceptions of dimensions of the retailing job and their responses to these dimensions.

Since all combinations of work-related and worker-related variables could not reasonably be addressed in one research attempt, the major question guiding the inquiry was: are important work-related dimensions in a retail store significantly tied to retail workers' emotional and behavioral responses to their jobs? In order to answer this question, it was necessary to know: (1) how employees rate retail job dimensions and (2) how other employees and managers assess employee satisfaction and performance.

JOB DIMENSIONS AND

WORKER RESPONSES STUDIED

Basic job dimensions were the independent variables used in this study. These included skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback from the job. Skill variety refers to the number of skills and talents the job requires. Task identity is the degree to which an employee does a job from beginning to end with a visible outcome, while task significance applies to the impact of that job on other people. Autonomy relates to the freedom and independence an employee has to determine his or her own work schedules and procedures. The direct information the employee receives about the effectiveness of his or her performance, simply by carrying out the required work activities, is what is meant by feedback from the job.

There seperate dependent variables were selected to measure how workers respond to their jobs: job satisfaction, absenteeism, and performance. Job satisfaction refers to both general and specific work satisfactions. The specific satisfactions included both intrinsic and extrinsic satisfactions, as well as satisfaction with pay, job security, peers and co-workers, supervision, and opportunitties for personal growth on the job. The primary focus for this study was on general, or overall, satisfaction as measured by the Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS) and the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire (MSQ)).

Absenteeism was chosen as an important indicator of an employee's response to the job, and refers simply to failure to report for work as scheduled. Individual job performance, as assessed by management, provides another rating of the employees' behavioral response to the job. Performance factors evaluated were: knowledge and performance of duties, effectiveness in working with others, reliability and responsibility on the job, the exercise of judgment in carrying out the work, and promotion potential. These were combined into one overall performance evaluation for analysis.

BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Each of the work-related dimensions described above has its roots in the general framework of job design. Many researchers have found evidence that employee responses to a job can be affected by job design. …