Determinants of Day Care Teachers' Job Satisfaction

Article excerpt

SUMMARY

Background: Although job satisfaction is among the most widely researched topics, relatively little research has been done on this issue as it relates to early childhood educators. This study was designed to contribute significantly to the deficient body of knowledge about working conditions and job satisfaction of day care teachers, in particular with regard to differences in job satisfaction depending on day care centres' ownership.

Methods: Analyses were based on cross-sectional comparison of 469 questionnaires (42.55% response rate) from day care teachers working at public day care centres with those working at day care centres run by churches or parents' initiatives.

Results: A significant difference in job satisfaction was found between these three types. The important interaction between socio-demographic characteristics, psychosocial working conditions, and job satisfaction could be demonstrated.

Conclusion: The present study is one of the few that examines the impacts of day care centres ownership on pedagogical staffs' job satisfaction and indicates that the type of the centre is a potential factor explaining variations. Results provide a valuable basis for the development of solution-focused approaches to improve pedagogical staff working conditions.

Key words: day care teacher, job satisfaction, job demands-resources model, ownership

INTRODUCTION

Job satisfaction is among the most widely researched topics. Reasons therefore are evident: this issue has strong appeal because it is immediately relevant to one's own life. People spent much of their time at work, so understanding the factors involved in achieving fulfilment can have an impact on personal well-being of employees (1). Nevertheless, relatively little research has been done on this topic as it relates to early childhood educators.

Although job satisfaction has first and foremost personal relevance, one can assume a direct causal link between educators' feelings of satisfaction and their productivity at work. This assumption is confirmed by the fact that low job satisfaction is one of the factors that affect the intention to leave and early retirement (2, 3). Rates show that turnover is more frequent in child care centres than in any other teaching setting (4, 5). This is difficult to tolerate as it has been associated with compromised development of children and lower-quality service (5-8). Furthermore this high rate puts an enormous strain on programmes that must search out and retrain new staff (1).

This study was designed to provide a more detailed knowledge of different aspects on nursery school teachers' job satisfaction, in particular with regard to differences in job satisfaction depending on day care centres' ownership. Day care teachers working at public day care centres were compared with those working at day care centres run by churches or parents' initiatives (9).

Additional research is needed to examine how child care teachers respond to structural components or conditions of their work helping policymakers and managers of day care centres to support caregivers. This may result in increased job satisfaction, contributing to an overall improvement of child care.

Theoretical Background

Multiple factors have an impact on job satisfaction. The Job Demands-Resources Model (JD-R model) (10) is a theoretical approach that tries to explain the relationship between psychosocial working conditions and well-being. The JD-R model was primarily developed to explain burnout. Depending on the context under study, it is possible to comprise various demands and resources. Therefore the JD-R model is also appropriate to explain well-being at work and job satisfaction (11-13). Robustness of the model was confirmed by Llorens et al. (14). According to the JD-R model the work environment is characterized by two general categories: job demands and job resources (10).

Job demands include those physical, social, or organizational aspects of work that require continuing physical and/or psychological effort (i. …