Personal Characteristics, Career Stage and Job Satisfaction

By Pang, Mary; Lee, Carrie | International Journal of Employment Studies, April 2002 | Go to article overview

Personal Characteristics, Career Stage and Job Satisfaction


Pang, Mary, Lee, Carrie, International Journal of Employment Studies


This article investigates the relationship between individual characteristics and job satisfaction from the career perspective. Using 279 employees from a large bank in Hong Kong as the sample, it was found from the questionnaire survey that education was the most significant variable in analysing job satisfaction, with a negative correlation between these two variables. Age and working experience, which relate to career stages, were also found to be important and to have positive correlations with job satisfaction. The article suggests that to attract and retain workers at both the organisational entry level and the early career stage, and also to maintain or enhance their job satisfaction levels, opportunities for continuous learning and development should be provided for employees within the organisation.

INTRODUCTION

Job satisfaction is an important attitude and has long been studied by organisational researchers (Hirschfeld, 2000). In fact, there are many behaviors and employee outcomes that have been found to be the result of job satisfaction or dissatisfaction (Iaffaldano and Muchinsky, 1985; Organ and Ryan, 1995; Greenberg and Scott, 1996; Keller, 1997; Spector, 1997). Some of the stronger relationships which have been found by researchers over time are the correlations of job satisfaction with organisational commitment at approximately 0.60 (Mathieu and Zajac, 1990); with turnover it is a negative relationship at -0.40 (Mobley, 1977); and with intention to quit the relationship it is also negative at - 0.58 (Tett and Meyer, 1993). From an employer's perspective, then, cultivating an organisation of workers who like their jobs is a prominent concern in order to retain staff, and hence reduce the onerous expenditure associated with recruitment, selection and training of new employees.

Towards gaining a greater understanding of the nature of job satisfaction, numerous studies and models have identified some factors which contribute to job satisfaction, such as employee incentives, challenging work, supportive supervisor, flexible benefit options, employee skills and experience, level of job difficulty and amount of responsibility (Barber, Dunham and Formisano, 1992; Lawler, 1994; Welbourne and Cable, 1995). These are all job or environment related factors. In contrast, some researchers have focused their interests on determining the relationship between individual differences and job satisfaction (Schneider, Gunnarson and Wheeler, 1992). Individual characteristics, such as sex and age, and their relationships to job satisfaction have been investigated. The results though have been neither consistent nor conclusive (Dalton and Marcis, 1987; Forgionne and Peeter, 1982; Mottaz, 1986).

However, job satisfaction can also be examined from a career perspective, which may provide a framework to help better understand the relationship between these individual characteristics and job satisfaction since career stage associates with individual characteristics, such as age, working experiences and company tenure. Particular stages in a worker's career cycle may affect what is expected or valued regarding the job at that point (Veiga, 1983), which in turn may affect the level of job satisfaction experienced (Liu, Fang, Wong and Luk, 1992). The argument is that if personal expectations of a job (both extrinsic and intrinsic) cannot be fulfilled, that person will be dissatisfied. On the contrary, if the expectations can be fulfilled from a job, individuals will have a higher satisfaction level. There exists a caveat in the literature on this area though. Limited research has been done to examine job satisfaction from the career perspective.

The aim of this study is to investigate job satisfaction from the career perspective by analysing the relationships between personal characteristics and job satisfaction. In the following sections, literature on career stages and the relationships between personal characteristics (age, working experience, company tenure, education, gender and occupation) and job satisfaction will firstly be reviewed.

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