• Home
  • Blog
  • Survey: Federal worker’s job satisfaction drops

Survey: Federal worker’s job satisfaction drops


Survey: Federal worker’s job satisfaction drops

Survey: Federal worker’s job satisfaction drops


First, read the article “Survey: Federal worker’s job satisfaction drops.”

For your post, I would like you to touch on the following:

1. Which aspects of job satisfaction do the workers seem most dissatisfied with? Think of the nine common job satisfaction facets to identify the source(s) of low job satisfaction (Table 9.1 on page 217 in your book). Survey: Federal worker’s job satisfaction drops

2. Explain what job satisfaction antecedents you think are responsible for the current low job satisfaction.  Survey: Federal worker’s job satisfaction drops

3. Explain the potential outcomes of the situation using what you know about job satisfaction outcomes. What is likely to occur if the sources of low job satisfaction are not addressed? Survey: Federal worker’s job satisfaction drops

4. Feel free to bring in any other relevant comments or observations you made during your review of the article (e.g., workers level of organizational/occupational commitment etc.).

I have attached the chapter readings and the explanations.

  • attachmentWeek5-Chapter9and11Lesson89.docx
  • attachmentI-ODiscussion5-JobSatisfaction.docx

Module 8 | Job Attitudes and Emotions

CakePHPWelcome to Module 8: Job Attitudes and Emotions

This module will discuss job attitudes (job satisfaction and organizational commitment) and emotions at work (emotional labor).

· Lesson 8.1 defines job satisfaction and describes measures used to assess how people feel about their jobs.

· Lesson 8.2 describes the antecedents and outcomes of job satisfaction.

· Lesson 8.3 defines organizational commitment, explains how it is assessed and describes its correlates.

· Lesson 8.4 discusses emotions at work, with primary focus on the concept of emotional labor.

This week we will be discussing two important job attitudes:

· Job satisfaction: the extent to which people like their jobs

· Organizational commitment: the degree of attachment a person feels to the organization they work for

In addition we will be discussing emotions at work including their causes and consequences. Specifically, we will focus on the concept of emotional labor, which pertains to the required expression of certain emotions at work.

Learning Objectives

· Discuss the antecedents and consequences of a recent drop in job satisfaction.

· Explain how emotions affect people at work.

· Discuss the antecedents and outcomes of job satisfaction.

· Define job satisfaction and identify how it is assessed.

· Define organizational commitment and identify how it is assessed.

· Identify how organizational commitment relates to other variables.


· Chapter 9

Lesson 8.1: Definition and Measurements of Job Satisfaction

What is Job Satisfaction?

Job satisfaction is an attitudinal variable that represents the extent to which people like their jobs. Job satisfaction represents how people feel about their jobs overall AND also how they feel about various aspects of their job. Thus, there are two approaches to the study of job satisfaction:

· The global approach

· The facet approach

The global approach treats job satisfaction as a single overall feeling toward the job.

The facet approach lists different aspects of a job (facets) and assesses satisfaction with each of them.  Common facets of job satisfaction include:

· Pay

· Benefits

· Supervision

· Co-workers

· Nature of the work

· Job conditions

The facet approach provides a more complete picture of job satisfaction because people tend to be happier with some aspects of the job than others. With a global approach these differences would be undetectable.

Assessments of Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction is assessed by asking people how they feel about their jobs, usually in questionnaires. These are easy to use, can be anonymous, and usually a person is the best judge of his or her feelings about the job.

Job Descriptive Index

The Job Descriptive Index (JDI) is the most popular questionnaire and most thoroughly validated. The JDI assesses five facets of job satisfaction:

1. Work

2. Pay

3. Promotion opportunities

4. Supervision

5. Co-workers

These 5 facets correspond to the 5 subscales within the questionnaire. Overall, the questionnaire has 72 items that are divided into five subscales. Each subscale begins with a brief explanation of the facet.  Each item is an adjective or short phrase that describes the job; it is responded to with a “Yes”, “No”, or “uncertain”. You can see sample items from the JDI on page 220 (Table 9.3) of your textbook.

Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire

The Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire (MSQ) is also a popular job satisfaction scale. The MSQ assesses 20 facets of job satisfaction that can be grouped into two general categories:

1. Intrinsic satisfaction: the nature of job tasks themselves and how people feel about the work they do

2. Extrinsic satisfaction: other aspects of the work situation such as fringe benefits and pay.

If you are interested in viewing all of the facets from the MSQ, Table 9.4 on page 221 of your book lists all 20.

The MSQ is available in two forms, a 100-item long form and a 20-item short form.

· Facet scores are calculated only for the long form.

· The short form is used to assess either global satisfaction or intrinsic and extrinsic satisfaction.

Each item is a statement describing a facet.  The employee indicates the degree of satisfaction with the situation described.

Job in General Scale

The Job in General Scale (JIG) is patterned on the JDI, but measures global job satisfaction. The format of the JIG is similar to the JDI, but contains 18 items about jobs in general.

Section 8.2: Antecedents and Outcomes of Job Satisfaction

Antecedents of Job Satisfaction: Introduction

Hundreds of studies have sought to answer the question: What makes people like or dislike their jobs?  These studies consider to various correlates (or antecedents) of job satisfaction.

We will discuss three categories of antecedents:

· Environmental antecedents: features of job and organizations that lead employees to be satisfied or dissatisfied including job characteristics, pay and justice.

· Personal antecedents: individual differences that predispose employees to like or dislike their jobs including personality, gender, age and cultural differences.

· Person-job fit: the joint influence of the environment and personality on job satisfaction.

Environmental Antecedents

Various features of the job environment may cause job satisfaction. We will discuss three environmental antecedents:

1. Job characteristics

2. Pay

3. Justice

Job Characteristics

Job characteristics refer to the content and nature of job tasks themselves.  There are only a handful of job characteristics that have been studied as correlates of job satisfaction. Five of these are part of Hackman and Oldham’s (1976) job characteristics theory.  The details of this theory are discussed in more detail in Chapter 10. For the purposes of this module I would like you to become familiar with the following 5 factors:

1. Skill variety refers to the number of different skills necessary to do a job.

2. Task identity refers to whether an employee does an entire job or a piece of a job.

3. Task significance refers to the impact a job has on other people.

4. Autonomy refers to the degree of freedom employees have to do their jobs as they see fit.

5. Task feedback refers to the extent to which it’s obvious to employees when they’re doing their jobs correctly.

Combined, these five core characteristics define the scope of a job, or its complexity and challenge. Job characteristics theory assumes that high scope leads to job satisfaction and low scope leads to boredom and dissatisfaction.

Meta-analyses have shown each of the five characteristics and scope correlate with global job satisfaction.  Table 9.6 on page 224 of your book displays the dimensions of job characteristics and their mean correlations with job satisfaction from the Fried and Ferris (1987) meta-analysis. Survey: Federal worker’s job satisfaction drops

Questions have been raised as to the methodology that has been used to examine the influence of job characteristics on job satisfaction. Most studies have relied on correlational data obtained through the use of questionnaires given to employees. Thus, it is not clear whether job satisfaction is the cause or the consequence of the job characteristics. In addition, studies that have used different methodologies have been less supportive of the idea that these five job characteristics lead to job satisfaction. Survey: Federal worker’s job satisfaction drops


Pay has been shown to relate more to pay satisfaction than to global work satisfaction.

Pay satisfaction is determined more by perceived fairness (equity) than by the level of pay (the amount of money a person is paid for their work). Thus, employees tend to be more satisfied when their salary is similar to others in the same job.

Further, there is little correlation between pay and pay satisfaction when calculated across different jobs. Stronger correlations are seen within the same job. Thus, if there is a group of people who all do the same job, those of the group who earn more money will be more satisfied.


Both procedural (fairness of the process) and distributive (fairness of the outcome) justice have been linked to global and facet satisfaction.

· For pay satisfaction, distributive justice has a larger correlation than procedural justice.

· For supervisor satisfaction, procedural justice is more important than distributive justice.

Table 9.7 on page 227 of your book displays correlations of distributive justice and procedural justice with job satisfaction.

Personal Antecedents

The majority of studies of the causes of job satisfaction have taken an environmental perspective. In recent years, some I/O psychologists have begun to suggest that personal characteristics (individual differences) might be important. In this section we will discuss personality and demographic (age, gender, culture) factors that may play a role in people’s job satisfaction.

Personality Factors

Several findings demonstrate the relationship between personality and job satisfaction. In general, these findings show that job satisfaction tends to be stable over time suggesting that it may be due, in part, to personality traits.

· In the Hawthorne studies, researchers noted some participants never stopped complaining. No matter what the researchers did for them, they were continually dissatisfied.

· Studies that investigated job satisfaction of individuals across jobs and organizations show that individual’s job satisfaction is similar even after they change jobs.

· Another longitudinal study showed that personality traits of adolescents were associated with job satisfaction 50 years later.

A limitation of the personality studies is that they suggest that personality is important, but do not specify the specific personality traits that relate to job satisfaction.  Studies of specific personality traits tend to focus on negative affectivity and locus of control.

Negative affectivity (NA) reflects the tendency for an individual to experience negative emotions (such as anxiety and depression) across a variety of situations. NA correlates negatively with job satisfaction, meaning that individuals high on NA tend to have low job satisfaction. Reasons for this are unclear. It may be that a person high in NA always sees the world negatively.

Locus of control is the extent to which people believe they are in control of reinforcements in life.

· Internals believe they control reinforcements,

· Externals believe that fate, luck, or others control reinforcements.

Internals have been shown to be more satisfied with their jobs. The reasons for this remain unclear. One reason that has been suggested is that internals may be better performers with better rewards.

Demographic Factors

Gender Differences

Men and women show few differences in global job satisfaction.

Age Differences

Meta-analysis has shown older workers to be more satisfied with their jobs than younger workers. Reasons for this are unknown. Possible suggestions include the fact that older workers may have better matches between actual and desired job conditions, higher salary, or longer job tenure.

Cultural and Ethnic Differences

Workplaces are steadily becoming more diverse. In the U.S., some studies have shown blacks to be less satisfied than whites, though meta-analysis has failed to corroborate these findings, making the reasons for cultural and ethnic differences unclear.

Person-Job Fit

The person-job fit approach states that job satisfaction will occur when there is a good match between the person and the job. Research looks at the correspondence between what people say they want on a job and what they say they have.  Fit is the difference between having and wanting. Research shows that the smaller the discrepancy between having and wanting, the greater the job satisfaction.

Alternatively, person factors can act as moderators of the relation between job variables and job satisfaction.

· A moderator variable affects the relation between two other variables. In this case, a job variable might be related to satisfaction for one level of a person variable, but not for another.

· Growth need strength (GNS) is a person’s desire for the satisfaction of higher-order needs like autonomy or achievement. Studies have shown that GNS moderates the relation between job characteristics and job satisfaction, so that the scope of a job relates to satisfaction for those with high GNS but not for those low in GNS.

Outcomes of Job Satisfaction

Various important organizational variables have been investigated as results (outcomes) of job satisfaction. We will discuss behaviors that have important on organizational functioning (job performance, turnover and absence) as well as variables that are related to the health and well being of employee’s.

Job Performance

Global job satisfaction is related to job performance but correlations are modest.  It is unclear whether satisfaction leads to performance or performance leads to satisfaction.  More evidence exists for performance leading to satisfaction through rewards.


Dissatisfied employees are more likely to quit.


Correlations between absence and job satisfaction tend to be small. Absences tend to be more strongly related to other reasons (e.g., family member illness).

Health and Well-being

Dissatisfied employees report more physical symptoms and more negative emotions (e.g., anxiety, depression) at work.

Life Satisfaction

Similar to job satisfaction, life satisfaction represents how satisfied a person is with his or her life.  Research demonstrates a positive correlation between job and life satisfaction, such that the more satisfied a person is with their job, the more satisfied they are in their life.

Three hypotheses have been proposed to explain the relationship between job and life satisfaction (e.g., spillover, compensation and segmentation – see page 235 of your book for more information). However, only the spillover hypothesis agrees with the positive relation between job and life satisfaction observed in research. The spillover hypothesis predicts that satisfaction (dissatisfaction) in one area of life affects other areas.

Lesson 8.3: Organizational Commitment

What is Organizational Commitment?

Organizational commitment is the attachment of an individual to his or her organization.  There are two prominent conceptualizations of organizational commitment:

Mowday et al. (1979) suggests three components:

1. Acceptance of the organization’s goals.

2. Willingness to work hard for the organization.

3. Desire to stay with the organization.

Meyer et al. (1993) suggests three types of commitment:

1. Affective commitment: an employee wants to remain with the organization because of emotional attachment.  Arises from favorable experiences on job such as job conditions and fulfilled expectations.

2. Continuance commitment: an employee remains with the organization because he or she needs benefits or salary, or can’t get another job.  Arises from benefits accrued and lack of alternative jobs.

3. Normative commitment: an employee thinks he or she owes it to the organization to stay or that it’s the right thing to do.  Arises from a sense of obligation(organization may have subsidized education) or personal values.

Assessment of Organizational Commitment

Organizational commitment is measured with self-report scales.  Different scales are used for each conceptualization of organizational commitment:

· The Mowday et al. (1979) scale consists of 4 items, which tap into the three aspects of commitment. They are combined to produce an overall commitment score.

· The Meyer et al. (1993) scale contains 2 items for each of the three components.

Research with the Meyer et al. scale supports the idea that the three types of commitment are separate variables.  The Mowday et al. scale correlates with the affective commitment scale but not with the normative or continuance subscales. Both of these scales are available to view on pages 236 and 237 of your book.

Correlates of Organizational Commitment


Turnover is predicted both by low overall commitment and low commitment across the three types (e.g., affective, continuance, and normative).

Job Satisfaction

Organizational commitment is strongly correlated with global job satisfaction. In general, organizational commitment correlates with other variables in a pattern similar to job satisfaction (e.g., age, job scope, role ambiguity, role conflict, absence, and turnover) with some exceptions (e.g., job performance).

Job Performance

Unlike job satisfaction, organizational commitment demonstrates only a small correlation with job performance. Interestingly, continuance commitment correlates negatively with job performance, whereas affective and normative commitment are associated with better job performance.

Demographic Factors

Few differences have been found between gender and ethnicity, however, one must be careful when generalizing organizational commitment findings to other countries. Differing cultural values may impact organizational commitment as well as its antecedents and consequences.

Occupational Commitment

The idea of commitment has been extended from organization to other work domains such as work group, peers and supervisors. Meyer et al. (1993) developed the idea of occupational commitment, extending the concept of commitments to concern an individual commitment to his or her occupation/career.  It is expected that occupational commitment will relate most strongly to behaviors relevant to success in the occupation (e.g., number of articles published), whereas organizational commitment will relate most strongly to behaviors and variables relevant to the present job (e.g., turnover and job satisfaction).

Lesson 8.4: Emotions at Work

Emotions at Work

It is inevitable that people will experience a wide array of emotions at work. We may experience happiness when we finish an important project and we may experience frustration after someone else gets the promotion we were hoping for. Further, the expression of emotion is important for certain jobs (e.g., salespeople and police officers).

In the study of emotions at work, it is important to distinguish between emotion states and moods;

· Emotion states: immediate experience of emotion in response to a situation

· Mood: longer term general level of positive versus negative emotional state

Emotions are associated with employee behavior and other variables that have implications for organizations.

· Positive moods are associated with positive outcomes (e.g., greater creativity, higher job satisfaction, better performance).

· Negative moods are associated with negative outcomes (e.g., low job satisfaction, higher absence and turnover).

Emotional Labor

Emotional labor pertains to the required expression of certain emotions at work. The concept recognizes that it can take effort to maintain the appearance of positive feelings in the face of negative experiences (e.g., rude customers).

Emotional labor has both positive and negative effects on employees. The effect is dependent on the type of emotional labor that is performed. In deep acting, the individual experiences the emotions being displayed. This type of acting tends to result in positive effects on well-being. Women are more likely to engage in deep acting, as are older workers.

On the other hand, in surface acting the individual “fakes” feeling the emotions displayed. In general, surface acting has negative effects such as burnout and poor life satisfaction due to emotional dissonance (pretending to be happy when feeling the opposite way). The negative effects of surface acting are worse for women than men, and introverts rather than extroverts.

Customers can tell when an employee is deep or surface acting. In general, they rate deep acting more highly.

Module 9 | Occupational Health Psychology

CakePHPWelcome to Module 9: Occupational Health Psychology

This module discusses the physical and psychological aspects of employee health, safety, and well-being at work that comprise occupational health psychology (OHP).

· Lesson 9.1 discusses workplace safety and accident prevention.

· Lesson 9.2 describes work schedules and their effect on employee health and well-being.

· Lesson 9.3 describes the occupational stress process including its antecedents and consequences.

· Lesson 9.4 defines burnout and describes how it related to employee health and well-being.

Learning Objectives

· Describe experiences with job stress.

· Describe the occupational stress process, including its antecedents and consequences.

· Describe the causes of accidents and discuss strategies to promote safety in the workplace.

· Identify how work schedules affect employee health and well-being.

· Define burnout and identify how it relates to employee health and well-being.


· Chapter 11

Lesson 9.1: Accidents and Workplace Safety


In this lesson we discuss accidents and safety related behavior. Accidents are events that occur at work and cause immediate injury such as slipping and falling on a spill on the floor, or getting electrocuted by a machine.

Accidents and Safety

Accidents are a major cause of death on and off the job. In general, accidents are the fifth leading cause of death among Americans.  In the twentieth century the U.S. workplace accident rate has decreased such that most accidents take place off the job.  However, workplace fatalities still numbered 4,383 in 2012. Some occupations are more dangerous than others (e.g., agriculture, mining, and construction; see p. 274). Organizations are interested in controlling accidents because of their costs.

Both individual and organizational factors are associated with work accidents (little evidence for causation; some could be caused by the accident).

Individual factors associated with accident rates include:

· Alcohol and drug use on the job

· Exposure to stressful life incidents (such as death)

· Personality characteristics (negative affectivity, neuroticism)

· Job satisfaction

Organizational factors associated with accidents include:

· Low safety climate

· Improper equipment design

· Low turnover and absence rates

· Management commitment to safety

· Degree of safety training

Accident prevention involves analyzing accident causes and creating some solutions.  Employees could be issued goggles, equipment could be redesigned, or work rules could be changed. A major problem is that employees do not always cooperate by using safety equipment and following safety rules. Often the equipment is seen as inconvenient, uncomfortable, or contrary to accepted practice in the work group (i.e., it wastes time, is too much trouble, or reflects a lack of courage). Incentive systems have been used successfully to increase safe behaviors. Goal setting has also been used successfully.

Lesson 9.2: Work Schedules


Use of work schedules that do not require eight hours each weekday is increasing. Those of particular interest to I/O psychology are:

1. Night shifts

2. Long work shifts

3. Flextime

Night Shifts

Organizations that run 24 hours typically have three shifts: day, evening, and night shifts.  Some organizations hire individuals for a particular shift while others rotate employees from shift to shift over time (rotating shifts).

The major problem with night shifts is that the typical sleep/waking cycle is disturbed. Associated with this cycle are the circadian rhythms of changes in the body such as temperature and hormone level changes. In addition, night workers may suffer sleep disturbance (being unable to fall asleep or sleeping poorly). It has been suggested that these problems may arise from disruption of circadian rhythms. Another suggestion is that night shift workers are sleeping when it’s noisier, during the day. Digestive system problems are also more frequent in night shift workers.

Permanent night shift workers may be able to adjust. In addition to health problems night work may also lead to social problems such as isolation from family and friends due to the fact that their sleep/wake schedule differs from the norm. An additional health problem associated with night work is the increased risk of assault.

Long Work Shifts

The typical work shift is 8 hours.  Some employees (truck or bus drivers) can have very long days.  Some organizations now have a 4 day, 10-hour shift, or two 12 hour shifts a day. (Other employees may work overtime.)

An important difficulty with long shifts is fatigue. Many employees like long shifts since they commute less and have more usable free time. Study of shifts in police officers found they preferred the longer shift and reported less fatigue, fewer health problems, and less stress.  The officers also had more days off, which could also be a factor. Study of long shifts in Australian bus drivers showed increased sleep problems, alcohol and stimulant use, job dissatisfaction, and poor health.  Therefore, may depend on the job. Working in excess of 48 hours per week, regardless of the length of shifts has recently been suggested to have detrimental effects on health, including heart disease.  However, these detrimental effects seem only to occur in people who work long hours nonvoluntarily.


Some organizations have tried flexible work schedules, flextime.  There are many variations of flextime schedules. For example, some organizations may allow the workday to start an hour earlier or later, or may only require that employees put in allotted hours each day.

There are several organizational advantages of flextime:

· Employees can take care of personal business on their own time. For example, they can go to the dentist in the morning and come in late.

· Less absence and tardiness occurs with flextime available.

· Research into the impact of flextime on job performance and satisfaction has been difficult to interpret due to differences in methodologies, so the effects of flextime on performance and satisfaction are not clear.

Lesson 9.3: Occupational Stress


Stress is a part of life. We tend to encounter it frequently in both our daily personal and work lives. In the workplace employees encounter a variety of stressful situations including reprimands by supervisors, insufficient time for task completion, the possibility of being fired or laid off, etc. In this section we discuss the occupational stress process and its various causes and effects.

The Occupational Stress Process

In order to understand the occupational stress process you must first understand what a job stressor and job strain is.

job stressor is a condition or situation at work that requires an adaptive response on the part of the employee.  Examples of job stressors include being reprimanded, having too little time for meet a deadline, etc.

job strain is an aversive reaction by an employee to a stressor.  Strains are categorized into three types (see Table 11.4 on page 284 for more examples):

1. Psychological reactions: emotional responses such as anxiety or frustration.

2. Physical reactions: symptoms such as headaches or stomach upset, illnesses such as cancer.

3. Behavioral reactions: responses such as substance use, smoking, or accidents.

The model below presents the 5 step model of how job stressors may lead to job strains:

week5 chapter9and11lesson89

Step 1: Job stressor appears (objective condition or situation in the work environment).  Example: management plans on making personnel cuts.

Step 2: Employee perceives the stressor.  Example: Jane reads an announcement that her company will soon cut personnel.

Step 3: To proceed to job strain, employee must appraise the stressor as aversive or threatening.  Example: Jane realizes she was the next to last person hired in her department, making her the first likely to be fired.

Step 4: Employee experiences short term (immediate) job strain.  Example: Jane feels anxious and her stomach feels tight.  On her break she buys a bag of chocolate bars and eats 4 right away.

Step 5: Employee experiences long term job strain.  Example: Jane starts drinking an extra glass of wine at dinner, has trouble sleeping, and develops an ulcer eventually.  She’s not sure how long she wants to go on working for her company because there might be more personnel cuts.

Job Stressors

Many conditions at work can be job stressors however, relatively few have been studied. We will discuss fie that have been given the most attention in the literature:

1. Role Ambiguity and Role Conflict

2. Workload

3. Social Stressors

4. Organizational Politics

5. Control

Role Stressors

Role ambiguity and role conflict are referred to as role stressors.

Role ambiguity represents the extent to which employees are unclear about their job functions and responsibilities.

Role conflict refers to the incompatibility between different demands at work (intrarole conflict), or between work and nonwork roles (extrarole conflict).

· Intrarole conflict is caused by multiple demands on the job

· Extrarole conflict iscaused by demands from work and nonwork domains

The research on role ambiguity and role conflict has concentrated on psychological strains.  Correlations with behavioral strains are small.  Most research is self-report making it unclear whether objective job conditions were responsible for appraisals of role stressor or whet eh those conditions resulted in psychological strain. High levels of role stressors are associated with job dissatisfaction, anxiety, and intention to quit the job (psychological strains). These effects have been found in the US, Hungary, Italy and the UK. Some evidence shows that role stressors are not very important causes of job stress.

Work-family conflict is an example of extrarole conflict in which work demands interfere with family. Organizational antecedents include long hours and lack of schedule flexibility.  Personal antecedents include negative affectivity.  Those with high work-family conflict report lower satisfaction, higher stress, and more physical ailments.  On the positive side, work can lead to enhanced self esteem and social support, which may counteract negative effects.  Flextime and on-site child care have been implemented by organizations to make it easier for employees with families.


Workload concerns the work demands a job places on an employee.

· Quantitative workload is the amount of work a person has; a heavy quantitative workload means there’s too much to do.

· Qualitative workload is the difficulty of work relative to a person’s capability; a heavy qualitative workload means a person can’t do job tasks because they’re too difficult.

Workload relates to the following psychological, physical, and behavioral strains: anxiety, frustration, depression, exhaustion, job dissatisfaction, intention of quitting, health symptoms, heart disease, blood pressure, and adrenaline secretion.

Social Stressors

Interpersonal conflict is one of the most frequent stressful incidents experienced.  Relates to physical strains of health symptoms and psychological strains of depression, frustration, and job dissatisfaction at work.

Mistreatment consists of aggression, bullying, harassment, nastiness and rudeness directed toward an employee by others at work; it can be either verbal or physical. These acts can come from a co-worker, boss, or customer.  It has been linked to a number of both psychological and physical strains, such as anxiety, depression, physical symptoms like headaches, and job dissatisfaction.

Organizational Politics

Organizational politics is the perception that others in the organization engage in self-serving behavior wherein they put their own interests above those of the organization and other people. In addition, rewards are perceived to be based on favoritism rather than merit.  As a stressor, organizational politics have been shown to lead to both psychological and physical strains as well as low organizational commitment and low job satisfaction.


Control is the extent to which employees are able to make decisions about their work, such as when to work, where to work, how to work, and what tasks to do.

Employees with a high level of control (e.g., university professors) have the ability to make decisions about their work. In low control jobs (e.g., assembly line worker) an employee cannot make any decisions about their work, not even rate of work if the machine is paced.

Perceived control appears to be a very important component of the job stress process and is also a component of job characteristics theory (autonomy). Perceptions of control associated with all three types of strain, but results most consistent for psychological strain.

Meta-analysis shows high levels of control associated with job satisfaction, organizational commitment, job involvement, and performance.  Low levels associated with emotional distress, intent to quit, health symptoms, absence, and turnover. However there is a complication with interpretation of these results because they are from self-report studies, and there is no clear evidence for causation such that employees who perform well are given more control, suggesting that performance affects the amount of control the employee has.

Machine Pacing

In machine-paced work, a machine controls when a worker must make a response.  (Examples include conveyor belts in factories and computer screens–wait for processing, make some entry, wait, make another entry or enter a command, etc.).

Use of machine pacing allows tests of objective control as opposed to perceived control. Machine pacing (low control) is associated with higher adrenaline levels and with higher levels of cortisol at work vs. at home (the reverse pattern is true for high control situations). Machine pacing is also associated with dissatisfaction, anxiety, and health symptoms.

The Demand/Control Model

The demand/control model states that effects of job stressors are a complex interplay of demands and employee control. Demands are stressors such as workload that require an employee to adapt. Control is the extent to which employees make decisions about work.

The model states that demands lead to strain only when there is insufficient control (i.e., having control reduces negative effects of demands).  Control is assumed to moderate the stressor-strain relation. In essence, control buffers the negative effects of stressors.

week5 chapter9and11lesson89

The picture above shows that:

· Low control and high demand lead to strain

· High control and high demand do not lead to strain

Overall, the model suggests that giving people more control at work could reduce negative effects of job stressors. Research results mixed so far.  Some research shows that the demand/control model may be true for some jobs and some types of demands.  Inconclusive evidence is believed to be caused by the measures of demands and controls used and the type of job studied.

Lesson 9.4: Burnout


Burnout is a distressed psychological state that an employee might experience after being on the job for some time.  Involves emotional exhaustion and low work motivation.

Burnout is assessed with self-report scales.  Most popular is the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI).  It measures three components:

1. Emotional exhaustion: feeling of tiredness and fatigue at work.

2. Depersonalization: the development of a cynical and callous feeling toward others.

3. Reduced personal accomplishment: the feeling that nothing worthwhile is being accomplished at work.

The picture below shows the three burnout components and the expected results of each.

week5 chapter9and11lesson89

High levels of burnout have been associated with low levels of perceived control and job satisfaction, and high levels of role conflict, health symptoms, intention of quitting the job, and work overload.  Heavy workload, low control, role ambiguity, and role conflict are possible causes of burnout.  Causes of burnout, however, are unclear because of the correlational nature of research.

Burnout can be reduced by taking a vacation. However, the “vacation effect” is short lived and disappears after a couple of weeks back on the job.  It has been suggested that organizations should encourage managers to provide emotional support to employees by providing positive feedback and engaging in discussions of positive aspects of work as a means of reducing burnout.

About the Author

Follow me

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}