Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Hanging on or Fading out? Job Satisfaction and the Long-Term Worker

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Hanging on or Fading out? Job Satisfaction and the Long-Term Worker

Article excerpt

Job satisfaction remains an important issue for public managers, as they try to motivate workers in today's political environment. Many of the motivational efforts are centered around newer employees, while longer-term workers are automatically assumed to be committed to their jobs. In this study of a medium-size city fire department, employees were surveyed on five aspects of job satisfaction: satisfaction with the supervisor, satisfaction with agency relationships, satisfaction with job training, satisfaction with job content, and overall job satisfaction. The effects of job tenure on satisfaction were uniform across the five aspects. The newest employees were significantly more satisfied with their jobs than were longer-term employees, even when controlling for the organizational rank. For a successful workplace, employers must continue to invest in their longer-term employees even as they develop newer employees.

In the 1990s, public sector employers are struggled to maintain a competent and committed workforce. Nowhere was this more true than at the local level in services such as fire fighting where stress is a constant element of working, cooperative relationships are vital, and training demands are continual. Employers not only must hire and train new workers, but also encourage a continued high level of dedication and willingness to learn among their more long-term employees. This study looks at employee job satisfaction among the employees of a fire department in a medium-size city. It then discusses the ongoing challenges of motivating public workers at all levels of experience.

The Sioux Falls, South Dakota (pop.120,250) Fire Rescue Department, like similar agencies in other rapidly growing cities, is continually working to upgrade its services to meet new challenges. For example, the top management, the Chief Fire Officers, now must attend the four-year Executive Fire Officer Program, offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency through the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, MD. The 1998 survey was part of the second author's project in conjunction with the requirements of the program. It was intended to gauge employee satisfaction levels, with the assumption that satisfied employees will provide the highest quality of customer service.[1] In addressing the issue of job satisfaction, the survey focused on two major characteristics of the employees: their number of years of service and their rank within the organization.

Most personnel managers and researchers assume that there is a relationship between job satisfaction and organizational commitment and, most important, job performance. Yet we have no standard ways of measuring job satisfaction, so the findings of individual studies often seem unique to a particular organization or set of employees. Nevertheless, the importance of studying job satisfaction cannot be ignored, particularly in government, where the personnel costs of doing the public's business range from 50 to 70 percent of total costs. Certain organizations, such as fire departments, have an even greater need for dedicated, cooperative workers who can respond to stress, as well as to constant public oversight, and sometimes criticism.[2] Research indicates that both on-the-job stress and a perception that what happens is out of one's control can have dramatic effects on job satisfaction.[3] Non-work factors can also increase job stress.[4] In fire fighting it would seem especially difficult for employees to separate their work from their private lives because of the sometimes long hours involved, the unpredictability of the work situation, and the level of risk-taking required of these employees.

Researchers have often found a relationship between job satisfaction and employee rank; that is, people in higher levels are generally more satisfied than other workers, regardless of age and years of service.[5] In other words, as rank increases, job satisfaction often increases. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.