Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Environmental Health Practitioners

Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Environmental Health Practitioners

Article excerpt

Introduction

Employee dissatisfaction with work can have a significant impact on the overall efficiency and effectiveness of an organization. As a group, dissatisfied workers tend to exhibit poorer job performance (1, 2, 3), greater absenteeism (4, 5, 6), and higher rates of turnover (6, 7, 8) than satisfied workers. Problems related to performance, absenteeism, and turnover can also have a profound impact on the quality of service delivery (9,10). In addition, job dissatisfaction may be related to poorer physical and emotional health among employees (11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16), which can contribute to or exacerbate existing work problems in an organization.

Previous studies of environmental health practitioners (EHPs) (17, 18, 19) have uncovered evidence of mild to moderate job dissatisfaction. This investigation compares the findings of the author's most recent study of the job dissatisfaction of EHPs from a large, diversified county health department in southern California (19) with new data collected from EHPs working in county health departments in northern Illinois. Specifically, the investigation provides a means for comparing the levels of job dissatisfaction of two geographically diverse cohorts of EHPs on both macro and micro levels. These analyses are important in validating previous findings, as well as providing a more comprehensive profile of the job experiences of EHPs. A better understanding of the job dissatisfaction of environmental health employees may find its most useful application in the design of effective intervention programs aimed at maximizing job satisfaction. Satisfied workers, as indicated above, are much more likely to contribute to an organization's goals than dissatisfied workers. Knowing the factors most closely associated with job dissatisfaction of EHPs can be of significant value to public and environmental health administrators as they work toward achieving and maintaining program excellence.

TABLE 1

Comparison of Two Environmental Health Cohorts on Selected
Demographic and Occupational Characteristics.

                                SC Cohort(*)           NI Cohort(*)
Characteristic                     (n=212)                (n=75)

Mean age (years)                     37.8                   36.6

Gender
Male                                 69.9%                  65.3%
Female                               30.1%                  34.7%

Years on job
10 or less                           91.0%                  86.5%
More than 10                          9.0%                  13.5%

Years in profession
10 or less                           72.4%                  69.9%
More than 10                         27.6%                  30.1%

Educational attainment
Bachelors degree or higher           87.7%                  82.4%
Less than bachelors degree           12.3%                  17.6%

Professional involvement(**)
Active membership                    57.1%                  76.7%
No membership                        42.9%                  23.4%

* SC Cohort = southern California cohort; NI Cohort = northern
Illinois cohort.

** Significant difference between cohorts, p[less than].01
(chi-square test).

Methods

Subjects

The subjects for this analysis consisted of two geographically diverse cohorts of EHPs from southern California (SC Cohort) and northern Illinois (NI Cohort), respectively. The SC Cohort (n=212) consisted of all EHPs working in a large, multidimensional environmental health section of a major county health department in southern California. These included sanitarians, environmental health technicians, industrial hygienists, and environmental engineers employed in six different divisions, which included food and housing, land use, vector control, hazardous materials management, occupational and radiological health, and administration. …

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