How does Feedback in the Workplace affect Job Satisfaction?

Abstract

Job satisfaction and feedback are two things that are vital to an organization’s operations. Leaders, managers, and employees alike are exposed to a great deal of feedback whether giving or receiving. In our research, we sought to find correlation that feedback may have with levels of job satisfaction. We conducted an online survey over a series four weeks comprised of eleven questions to be answered by our random participants. Access to this survey was shared through social media attracting a pool of career diverse individuals. We had over 80 responses and our data showed that job satisfaction does in fact positively correlate with the type of feedback that is received. Specific statistics that represent this are that over 3/4 of respondents (75.3 percent) rated their satisfaction with their job at a 7 or above (out of 10) while at the same time 77.8% of participants chose mostly positive or positive to describe their feedback from a supervisor. Overall our data confirmed what we inferred was true, ratings for job satisfaction and feedback move in correlation with each other. We do consider they may be other factors and additional modes of surveying we can add to future research and delve deeper in to this topic.

Introduction

Anyone who has held a position in the work force knows that their own job satisfaction can be influenced from a multitude of factors ranging from pay and bonuses to schedule flexibility and freedom for creativity. Job satisfaction decreases employee turnover and can be an encouragement for employees to work to the best of their abilities. This is where feedback comes in and plays a key role. When we were faced with the decision on which factor to directly examine, feedback stood out as a strong choice to determine if or how an individual’s satisfaction in the work place. Our hypothesis was that job satisfaction would in fact be influenced by feedback. We sought to find out whether or not our research subjects indicated this through our constructed survey and whether or not that influence from feedback was positive or negative. Feedback is vital for everything we do in our day to day lives, and it is especially important in the business world. In completion of our research we hoped to paint a clearer picture on which ways feedback and job satisfaction are related. In doing so, our research can shine a light for employers on how they can approach feedback for their employees in future situations with respect to satisfaction in the work place.

Literature Review

Feedback is critical for success in any job. In order to have a successful relationship with colleagues, bosses, and other people that a person interacts with in the workplace, an employee must be able to give and receive compliments and criticism to his or her peers. However, feedback is more than just positive or negative comments. Gabriel et. al states that in order to have a successful work environment, the feedback needs to have seven parts: “source credibility, feedback quality, feedback delivery, frequency of favourable and unfavourable feedback, source availability, and promoting feedback seeking” (2014). In order to make the work environment and job satisfaction possible, feedback must utilise these things in the communication between the employee and his or her supervisor or coworkers.

Feedback is not just the verbal communication between employees, however. Feedback is also included in nonverbal communication within the workplace. One example of a boss giving feedback is controlling how he or she behaves. Joan Lloyd along with America’s Health Care Financial Managers writes that indifferent and poor behavior from a manager has a negative effect on the feedback, job performance, and job satisfaction of an employee (2014). It is much easier for a manager to exhibit poor behaviors than good behaviors, even if the manager does not realize that he or she is displaying these behaviors. The nonverbal cues of a manager or boss influence the satisfaction of employees, and if the manager communicates poorly to his or her employees, the employees will be less satisfied and will have lower expectations of the job.

Employees look for positive reinforcement, both verbal and nonverbal, and if they do not receive it, they often will become disappointed with their position. This becomes more increasingly true the longer a person is employed with a company. A study done by Chiho Ok and Jisung Park found that a newcomer to a company will have higher job satisfaction than an older employee, especially in relation to tenure or salary (2018). This could be due to several factors, but one is the difference in what an employee expects of the job before starting and after they have experienced the actuality of it. Often a person will set higher expectations for the satisfaction of the job than they actually receive. When this happens, a person will feel a disconnect with their organization, and are often dissatisfied with their job.

Employees often want feedback before their supervisor or coworkers will give it to them. This often produces feedback-seeking behavior from the employee, where he or she will see out the feedback they are hoping for. Employees execute this feedback-seeking behavior with three aspects. First, they have to choose the source of their feedback. This can be a supervisor, coworker, etc. next, they have to choose a strategy with which to ask for the feedback. Lastly, they have to figure out what feedback they are seeking. Joe Krasman writes that employees are more likely to have this feedback seeking behavior when the job expectations are high (2011).  This means that in jobs with higher expectations, people want feedback more often, both positive and negative.

In order to receive the feedback they are searching for, employees will often attempt to influence their supervisor. James Larson, Jr. writes than employees can attempt to structure their feedback inquiries and conversations to help the supervisor or boss be more positive in their response (1989). This is done both consciously and unconsciously and can increase job satisfaction for the employee as he or she is positively reaffirmed by authority that they are doing a satisfactory job. It can, however, negatively influence job performance, as the employee may not receive criticism necessary for the job. If the negative feedback is never given, poor performances and behaviors may not be corrected, which in turn can influence an employee’s productivity and overall feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment within the workplace.

Feedback as a whole is very important in job satisfaction. In order to have the feedback necessary for job satisfaction, it is important to have good communication between the people exchanging the feedback. Frederik Anseel and Filip Lievens found in a study that the relationship between an employee and his or her supervisor relates strongly to the job satisfaction of the employee (2007). If there is a good relationship between a boss and his or her employees, there often will be better feedback. This in turn creates higher job satisfaction, both from the increase in feedback and the better relationship with the supervisor.

Job satisfaction can occur no matter the feedback, but it is much more common with positive feedback. However, there are other factors to it as well. Satyabrata Tripathy and Fakir Mohan Sahoo conducted a study and found that education can often affect job satisfaction. More highly educated employees often show higher job satisfaction than uneducated employees (2018). This is possibly because education is an internal factor. When a person uses and has greater internal factors, their self-esteem and self-satisfaction increase. This in turn can influence job satisfaction as a whole.

Dissatisfaction in the workplace can negatively affect future feedback for the employee as well. An article written for the Human Resource Development Quarterly states that if the employee receiving feedback is already unsatisfied with their job, they will be less likely to take into account feedback given by a supervisor or coworker, making the feedback less effective (A. Rasheed, Khan, M. Rasheed, and Munir, 2015). It is a negative cycle, as the lack of feedback received by a dissatisfied employee will often make them even more unsatisfied, and so on. This can then influence an employee’s performance within the company.

Job satisfaction has also been found to influence productivity in the workplace. Choi Younyoung and Ha Junghee write that “feelings and satisfaction about [employees’] workplaces have a substantial impact on work productivity and psychological well-being” (2018). This means that if a person is dissatisfied with their job, they are much less likely to be productive and therefore successful in it. On the other hand, if a person is satisfied, they will often be more productive. A study found that “happiness leads to a 12 percent increase in productivity” and “unhappy workers are 10 percent less productive than content employees” (Edwards, 2015). If an employee is happy and satisfied in their job, they will be more likely to have dedication to the company, take initiative within their position and department, and try to succeed overall.

Method of Research

In addition to the literary research we completed, we conducted a survey to better understand the relationship between job satisfaction and feedback in the job environment. The survey we designed collected data on three major areas which included demographics, job satisfaction, and workplace feedback. The data collection period or the amount of time the survey was left “live” was 4 weeks in total.

Design

The study we completed was constructed singularly of multiple choice questions with “fill-in-the-blank” options for answers not listed. Broken down even further, the questions are primarily separated into questions asking the respondents to use a scale to rate a statement or direct multiple choice where a selection like “never” can be made. The mode in which this survey was carried out was through google forms. The purpose of this was to allow anonymity for the participants. Google forms also seamlessly allows its users to distribute the survey on social media. The social media platform we chose to use was Facebook as the survey can be open to the public and allow for anonymous and voluntary participation. Having a random array of participants facilitated the opportunity for a more diverse group of individual answers and group averages with which we could examine. We kept the questionnaire to a concise eleven questions to ensure that the respondents would follow through to completion.

Participants and Procedure

The total number of respondents for our survey was eighty-one. As stated above, the mode of delivery that we utilized for our survey was Facebook with a public setting as to get the most unbiased pool of responses. We offered selections for participant’s ages in ranges of six years. The youngest option was eighteen and the oldest category was thirty-nine plus. Participants came from a wide range of careers. This was something we expected and hoped to see with leaving an open ended option. There were not any incentives involved with the questionnaire other than assisting in the research. Anonymity was clearly implied with the absence of inquiry for the identity of the respondent. Participating in the survey demonstrated consent. As previously indicated, our survey was random and anonymous so the respondents were only informed of the content and implied intention of the questions through the header and title. Although there were no instructions included in the survey, the questions were ordered in an easy to follow stacked format beginning with demographics. With the completion of the questions, the respondents could click submit to finish. Google forms would then compile the responses into individual answers as well as group summary data in pie charts for us to analyze.

Results

The essential goal of our research and study was to find out what the correlation was between job satisfaction and feedback in the workplace. When asked about how satisfied respondents were with their jobs, we found that 81.5% of participants rated their jobs at a 6 or above, indicating moderate to high levels of satisfaction. 19.6% are highly satisfied in their current position and indicated so by giving a rating of 9 or 10. When asked to described their feedback at their job, 77.8% of participants chose mostly positive or positive. Despite high levels of satisfaction and positive feedback, 29.6% did not feel they were working to their full potential in their current position and 23.4% don’t feel valued at their job. Other factors that showed statistical relevance in job satisfaction and feedback in the workplace are as follows:

●       90% of participants stated that they did receive feedback on their performance, in varying degrees, and only 10% percent said that they “never” received feedback.

●       82.5% responded that they receive recognition for their accomplishments

●       Over 3/4 of respondents ( 75.3 percent) rated their satisfaction with their job at a 7 or above

●       69.1% agree that they feel valued at their job

Analysis

After reviewing the results of our survey, it was clear that most of our participants are satisfied with their current positions and receive a moderate level of feedback on their performance in the workplace. Even so, nearly thirty percent of participants responded that they were neutral or disagreed that they feel personally accomplished, worked to their full potential, and or felt valued in their job. This indicates that some less positive emotions in the workplace may be attributed to internal conflicts rather than external forces brought on by the work environment and interaction with supervisors.

Demographics

The largest portion of our age demographics was the 18-24 range, comprising a percentage of 63%, which was to be expected as many of those who would have been exposed to the survey were University of South Dakota students. Our largest career titles chosen by respondents were “Sales and Service” with 24.1 percent and “Professional” with 20.3 percent. After reviewing our data there may be an explanation for why there were somewhat significant percentages of respondents who do not feel they are working to their full potential or lack a sense of accomplishment. The largest pool or our participants were college age students who are working in service positions most likely not in their ideal career yet. Although we selected large categories of career choices to offer our participants,  the “other” option was highly utilized for this question and we had a diverse range of job titles. Some examples of fill-the-blank answers included “Retired Teacher”, “Youth Counselor”, and “Lab Assistant”.

Feedback

In whole, our survey showed that participants were receiving feedback and that most of it was in fact positive. Only a small percentage (10%)  of respondents stated they did not receive feedback. When asked about recognition for accomplishments from their manager, 82.5 said they did receive it 23.8 percent stated that it was often or very often. With this information is it clear why only a small margin (4.9)  percent of respondents answered that their feedback was mostly negative. Employees, in the case of our survey, are hearing praise for their work and are less likely to have comments from a supervisor be negative in nature.

Job Satisfaction and Crossover Results

The majority of those who completed our survey feel satisfied and accomplished at their job. With this information, it does appear that there is a correlation between job satisfaction with the addition of positive feedback and accomplishment recognition. Negative responses to questions lead us to believe there may be other factors beyond and separate from feedback that can be attributed to why someone may not feel valued or personally accomplished in their career. In future research in this topic we could explore those other factors more in depth and with a separate interview or “free-response” format. Overall,  the responses from our survey produced expected results. When participants state they have positive feedback from superiors and are recognized for their accomplishments in the workplace, you can see the correlation with higher levels of job satisfaction.

Conclusion

Job Satisfaction is an integral part of how an employee will perform and although there are many factors that affect this, feedback appeared as a significant piece that could influence how employees feel about their place of employment. As previously stated, a study by Frederik Anseel and Filip Lievens found that the relationship between an employee and his or her supervisor relates strongly to the job satisfaction of the employee (2007). In our own research we found this to be true as a significant portion of our participants indicated both high job satisfaction in their position and that they often received positive feedback. Feedback is instrumental in assisting employees to reach their goals and opens up a door for communication through an organizations structure. After completing our research, we hope that, at the very least, the information we collected in the areas of feedback and job satisfaction can be an eye-opener for employers. Their opinions and comments they share through feedback can and do impact their employee’s happiness.

Works Cited

Anseel, F., & Lievens, F. (2007). The Long-Term Impact of the Feedback Environment on Job Satisfaction: A Field Study in a Belgian Context. International Association of Applied Psychology, 56(2). doi:doi: 10.1111/j.1464-0597.2006.00253.x

Edwards, S. (2015). Examining the Relationship Between Workplace Satisfaction and Productivity. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/samuel-edwards/examining-the-relationship-between-workplace-satisfaction-and-productivity.html

Gabriel, A. S., Frantz, N. B., Levy, P. E., & Hilliard, A. W. (2014). The supervisor feedback environment is empowering, but not all the time: Feedback orientation as a critical moderator. Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, 87(3), 487–506. https://doi-org.ezproxy.usd.edu/10.1111/joop.12060

Krasman, J. (2011). Taking Feedback-Seeking to the Next “Level”: Organizational Structure and Feedback-Seeking Behavior. Journal of Managerial Issues, 23(1), 9–30. Retrieved from https://login.ezproxy.usd.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=buh&AN=62287464&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Larson, J. R., & Jr. (1989). The Dynamic Interplay Between Employees’ Feedback-Seeking Strategies and Supervisors’ Delivery of Performance Feedback. Academy of Management Review, 14(3), 408–422. https://doi-org.ezproxy.usd.edu/10.5465/AMR.1989.4279075

Lloyd, J. (2014). High Expectations Lead to Excellent Performance. Receivables Report for America’s Health Care Financial Managers, 29(5), 3–4. Retrieved from https://login.ezproxy.usd.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=buh&AN=95524597&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Ok, C., & Park, J. (2018). Change in Newcomers’ Job Satisfaction: Met-Expectations Effect as a Moderator. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 46(9), 1513–1521. https://doi-org.ezproxy.usd.edu/10.2224/sbp.6843

Rasheed, A., Khan, S., Rasheed, M. F., & Munir, Y. (2015). The Impact of Feedback Orientation and the Effect of Satisfaction With Feedback on In-Role Job Performance. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 26(1), 31–51. https://doi-org.ezproxy.usd.edu/10.1002/hrdq.21202

Tripathy, S., & Sahoo, F. M. (2018). Happiness and job satisfaction: An empirical study in public sector undertaking. Indian Journal of Positive Psychology, 9(1), 130–134. https://doi-org.ezproxy.usd.edu/10.15614/ijpp.v9i01.11757

Younyoung C., & Junhee, H. (2018). Job Satisfaction and Work Productivity: The Role of Conflict-Management Culture. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 46(7), 1101–1110. https://doi-org.ezproxy.usd.edu/10.2224/sbp.6940

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