The attitudes of most interest to managers are those related to work, especially attitudes that influence how well employees perform. To lead employees effectively, managers logically seek to cultivate the kinds of attitudes that are associated with high performance. Two attitudes that might relate to high performance are satisfaction with one’s job and commitment to the organization.
A positive attitude towards one’s job is called job satisfaction. In general, people experience this attitude when their work matches their needs and interests, when working conditions and rewards (such as pay) are satisfactory, when they like their co-workers and when they have positive relationships with supervisors.
Many managers believe job satisfaction is important because they think satisfied employees will do better work. In fact, research shows that the link between satisfaction and performance is generally small and is affected by other factors. The importance of satisfaction varies according to the amount of control the employee has; an employee doing routine tasks may produce about the same output no matter how he or she feels about the job. However, an internal study at a big super market recently found a clear link between employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction and revenue. In particular employee’s attitude about whether their workloads were manageable and well-organized ranked among the indicators of company performance.
Managers of today’s knowledge workers often rely on job satisfaction to keep motivation and enthusiasm for the organization high. Organizations don’t want to lose talented highly skilled workers. In addition most managers care about their employees and simply want them to feel good about their work – and almost everyone prefers being around people who have positive attitudes. However, a survey by International Survey Research found that Generation X employees, those who are carrying the weight of much of today’s knowledge work, are the least satisfied of all demographic groups. Managers play an important role in whether employees have positive or negative attitudes towards their job.
Organizational commitment refers to an employee’s loyalty to and engagement with the organization. An employee with a high degree of organizational commitment is likely to speak well when talking about the company. Such a person likes being a part of the organization and tries to contribute to its success.
Most managers want to enjoy the benefits of loyal, committed employees including low turnover and willingness to do more than the job’s basic requirements. In addition, results of a recent survey in Global organizations suggests that companies with committed employees perform better. The study found that companies with highly committed employees outperformed the industry average over a 12 month period by 6 per cent, while those with low levels of commitment underperformed the average by 9 per cent. Alarmingly, the level of commitment in the United States is significantly lower than half of the world’s other large economies. US employees are less committed than those in Brazil, Spain, Germany, Canada and Italy. This low level of organizational commitment puts US firms at a serious disadvantage in the global marketplace.
The high motivation and engagement that comes with organizational commitment is essential to the success of knowledge based organizations that depend on employees’ ideas and creativity. Trust in the management’s decisions and integrity is an important component of organizational commitment. Unfortunately in recent years, many employees have lost that trust, resulting in a decline in commitment.
Managers can take action to promote organizational commitment by keeping employees informed, giving them a say in decisions, providing the necessary training and other resources that enable them to succeed, treating them fairly and offering rewards they value. For example, employee commitment in today’s workplace is strongly correlated with initiatives and benefits that help people balance their work and personal lives.
Sometimes a person may discover that his or her attitudes conflict with one another or are not reflected in behavior. For example, a person’s high level of organizational commitment might conflict with a commitment to family members. If employees routinely work evenings and weekends, their long hours and dedication to the job might conflict with their belief that family ties are important. This can create a state of cognitive dissonance, a psychological discomfort that occurs when individuals recognize inconsistencies in their own attitudes and behaviors.
In the case of working overtime, people who can control their hours might restructure responsibilities so that they have time for both work and family. In contrast, those who are unable to restructure workloads might develop an unfavorable attitude towards the employer, reducing their organizational commitment. They might resolve their dissonance by saying they would like to spend more time with their kids but their unreasonable employer demands that they work many hours.