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The GenericJob SatisfactionScale:

ScaleDevelopmentand Its Correlates


ScottMacdonald
PeterMaclntyre

ABSTRACT. A scale on job satisfaction was developed,which


could be usedin a wide rangeof occupationalgroups.Aninitial item
pool of 44 items thought to be aspecisof .iobiatidfaction was com-
pletedby a sampleof 885 Ontario working adults in a wide rangeof
occupations.Factoranalysiswas conductedon the itemsand a set of
l0 itemswas definedon one factor.Cronbach'salphafor theseitems
was .77.Averagescoreson the scaleswere not sighificantlydifferent
between males and females and among six major oc6upational
groyps.The scalewas significantlyrelateri'-toworkdlacefact6rssuch
as job stress,boredom, isolation and danger of-illness or injury.
[Article copiesavailablefrom TheHaworth DocumentDelivery Service:
I -800-342-9678. E-mail address: geIinfo@howorth.comJ

Job satisfaction is one of the most enduring yet elusive constructs


used in the study of industrial relations (Locke, 1976; Yuzuk, 196l).
For years researchers have attempted to define and measure the
concept ofjob satisfaction; however, the scales developed to date
could be improved. In particular, there is a need for a valid and
reliable scale that is short and easily administered in the workplace.
Furthermore, the scale should be relevant to a wide varietv of oc-

Scott Macdonald,PhD, is Scientist,Addiction ResearchFoundation,100Col-


lip Circle, Suite200, London, OntarioN6A 5B9. peter Maclntyre, phD, is profes-
sor, Departmentof Psychology,University College of Cape Breton, p. O. Box
5300,Sydney,Nova ScotiaBl P 6L2.
The authorsare indebtedto SamanthaWells for her useful commentson drafts
of this paper.
EmployeeAssistance
Quarterly,Vol. l3(2) 1997
O 1997by TheHaworthPress,Inc.All rightsreserved. I
2 EMPLOYEEASSISTANCEQUARTERLY

cupations.A key advantageofa scale,applicableto almostanyjob,


is that norms can be developedthat will allow individualsto assess
how satisfiedthey are in relation to others,and employersto deter-
mine the relative satisfactionof their employees.
In orderto clari$, the meaningof "job satisfaction"it is usefulto
differentiateit from employeemorale. The two conceptsare very
closely related,and someauthorstreat them as synonymous;how-
evsr,job satisfaction,as Locke (1976) describes,differs from em-
ployee morale in two respects.Firstly, job satisfactionrefers to a
single individual and his/herjob situation,whereasemployeemo-
rale focusesmore on how an employeerslatesto a senseof com-
mon (or group)purposewithin an organization.Secondly,job satis-
faction more appropriatelyaddressespast and presentsituations,
while moraleaddressesfeelingsaboutthe future.
The value ofajob satisfactionscalecannotbe understateddue to
its high correlationswith importantjob outcomes.Job-relatedout-
comes such as job involvement (Elloy & Terpening,1992),stress
(Ramanathan,l99l), turnover (Gregson,1990; Steers& Stone,
1988) and employeeattendance(Steers& Stone, 1988)have been
associatedwith satisfaction.Age and job status also have been
found to be positively correlatedwith job satisfactionin somestud-
ies (Fournet,Distefano& Pryer, 1966;Rhodes,1983).Theseresults
may be somewhatconfoundedby the tendencyof older workersto
move into higher statusjobs.
As shown by the conceptsincluded in existing job satisfaction
scales(seeTable l), a substantialdegreeof agreementexistsamong
researchersregardingthe characteristicsof job satisfaction(Cross,
1973;Yuzuk,1961;Hackman& Oldman,1975;Scarpello& Camp-
bell, 1983;Khaleque& Rahman,1987).For instance,pay,relations
with co-workers,superyisors,andjob securityhavebeenviewedas
important componentsof satisfaction.The most important limita-
tion of prior studies,however,is the type of samplesthat were used
for scale development.Sometimesthe sample sizes were small,
such as in the Khaleque and Rahman (1987) or Scarpello and
Campbell(1983) studies.In other studies,the sampleswere larger'
but drawn from limited population frames. For example, Cross
(19?3) studiedworkers from four manufacturingplants,Hackman
and Oldham (1975) examinedemployeesfrom sevenindustrialand
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Scott Macdonald and Peter Maclntyre J

service organizations,and Khalequel and Rahman(1982) focused


9n jgte workers in Bangladesh.While the study resultsare general-
iz-abJe1o the populationsfrom which the sampieswere drain, they
likely have lessgeneralizabilityto wider employeegroups.
Therefore,the validity of existing scalesmust be establishedin
different employeegroupsbecauseissuesrelatedtojob satisfaction
lnay u.aryfrom group to group. Peopletend to migrate to jobs that
have intrinsic characteristicsthat are consistentwith their own iob
priorities or personalities(Barrick & Mount, l99l; Tett, Jackson&
Rothstein,l99l). For example,peopleinterestedin becominga real
estatesalespersonlikely are motivatedby job independence,meet-
ing a variety of peopleand receivingincrementalmonetaryrewards
from their efforts. By contrast,those attractedto jobs in research
likely have less desire to meet people and value a more steady
income.Although thereare differencesamong occupationalgroups
in termsof valuesin their jobs, the purposeof the scile examinedin
this paper is to determinegenericor common aspectsof job satis-
faction that could be applied to all occupations.This approachwill
lead to the developmentof a scalewith greaterutility in the work-
place than existing scales.
There appearto be two main approachesto researchon the topic:
one that examinesthe facetsofjob satisfactionand the other ihat
examines the general level of satisfaction.The facets approach
attemptsto determineand measurethe most relevantdimensionsof
job satisfaction.This has been the most widely used approachand
severalscaleshave beendesignedto measurethe specific facetsof
job satisfaction(Bell & Weaver, 1983; Smith, Kendall & Hulin,
1969;Gregson,1990;Yuzuk, 196l). Characteristics ofthejob such
as pay, promotion, supervision,working conditions and relation_
ships with co-workershave been shown to be componentsof job
satisfaction(Cherniss& Kane, 1987;Bell & Weaver,l9g7; Hatk-
man & Oldham, 1975).The more generalapproachexamineslevels
of satisfactionregardlessof their source. Some researchershave
suggestedthat the facetsapproachand the generalapproachyield
indicesofjob satisfactionthat havelow correlationswith eachother
(Scarpello& Campbell, 1983).Howeveq most studiessuggestthat
facetsare merely componentsof a larger,more generalfaclor, some
of which may correlatemore highly with the general factor than
6 ASSISTANCE
EMPLOYEE SUARTERLY

others (Cross,1973). It can be concludedthat the facetsapproach


better examines the structure of satisfactionwhereasthe general
approach
- betterexaminesthe overall /evelsof satisfaction.
bne disadvantageof the facet approachis the high number of
items used to composea scale, since each of the selectedfacets
must be measuredwith severalitems. Many facet approachscales
have over 100 items,which could take over an hour for the respon-
dent to complete.This may be far too long for many workplace
applications.-In contrast, some authorshave simply assessed job
"Are you satisfied at work?"
sitisfaction by using the question
(Cross,1973;-E11oy & Terpening,1992).However,the inclusionof
the major facets of job satisfaction,or at least a multiple- item
measurL,is often recommendedto increasevalidity' The scalede-
velopedin this studyhasonly l0 itemswhich meansit canbe easily
and quickly administeredand has a sufficient number of items to
determineits reliability.
The purposeof this study is to develop of a brief but generic
scaleofjob satisfactionby using the facetand generalapproach.An
initial item pool of44 variablesthought to be aspectsofjob satis-
faction was examinedusing factor analysisto obtaina smallersetof
items to form a scale.The validity of the new scalewas testedby
examiningthe correlatesofjob satisfactionboth within and outside
the workplace.

METHOD
Inl992,a surveywas conductedon characteristics ofpeople'sjobs
and how they relate to alcohol and drug use.The resultspresentedin
this paperrelateto the development of a job satisfactionscale.

Sample Selection

The sample used in this study was obtained from telephone


directories lor regions across Ontario. Systematicsampling was
used to select caies from telephone directories. First, for each
telephonedirectory, the number of casesto be selectedwas pro-
porfionedto the populationin each area' Second,the sampling
interval was determinedby dividing the number of pagesin each
Scott Macdonald and Peter Maclntyre 7

book by the number of casesto be sampledfrom each region. A


random number table was used to obtain the initial number, or
random start, for each telephonebook. A total of3,300 caseswas
sampledusingthis method.

Questionnaire Distribution and Collection

Questionnaireswere mailed to 3,300 Ontario householdsin June


and July of 1992. Enclosed with the questionnairewas a letter
describingthe purposeof the study and a self-addressedstamped
envelope.The subjectsreceiveda follow-up telephonecall encour-
aging them to participatein the survey.Respondentswere askednot
to placetheir nameson questionnairesso that information obtained
from the questionnaires would remain completelyanonymous.

The ResponseRate

From the 3,300 questionnairessentout, 355 werejudged ineligi-


ble to participate in the study. During telephonefollow-up calls,
ineligible questionnairerecipients informed our callers that the
questionnairewas not relevantto their situations.Letters and post-
cards were also received from questionnairerecipients indicating
why they could not participatein the study.Individuals were ineli-
gible to participatebecausethey had retired (l8l), they were not
working outsidethe home (75), they had languagedifficulties (41),
the questionnairerecipient was deceased(32), and other reasons
(26). The questionnairewas not receivedby 477 people.Mail-out
packageswere returnedbecausethe occupanthad moved (185), the
addresswas incomplete(16l), or the addresswas unknown (48).
For 83 cases,it was unclear as to why the packageshad been
retumed becauseno information indicating the reason for their
retum was provided on the packages.It is likely that they were not
deliveredfor the samereasonsdiscussedabove(i.e., moved,incom-
plete address,or unknown address).Excluding ineligible cases,
2,468 were eligible to participate. Of these, 885 completed the
questionnaire,resulting in a responserate of 35.9%. Mail surveys
often produce responserates in this range, especially when the
questionnaireis lengthy.
8 EM PLOYEE ASSI STAN CE QUARTERLY

Vqriables

The items in the scale focused on the employee'sfeelings or


reactionstowardsaspectsof their jobs. Structuralcharacteristicsof
thejob (i.e.,actualvalueof wages,status,autonomy,etc.)werenot
consideredto be as importantin determiningemployeejob satisfac-
tion as the reactionsofemployees to thosecharacteristics.For ex-
ample,two employeeswith the samejob and rate of pay likely have
different opinionsaboutthe faimessof their wagesand conespond-
ingly may have different levels of job satisfaction.Therefore,an
important psychologicalelementin determiningjob satisfactionis
the reactionto the characteristics ofthejob.
The initial item selectionwas conducted by reviewingthe litera-
ture on job satisfactionand writing items that addressedmajor
facetsofjobs that have beenfound to be relatedtojob satisfaction.
As well, employeesfrom varioussettingswere askedto describe
the characteristics of jobs that were importantto them and items
were written to representtheseconcepts.This approachproduced
an initial pool of 44 items.Each item had 5-pointLikert response
categoriesfrom strongly agreeto strongly disagree.Other vari-
ablesincludedin the studywere occupation,gender,age,personal
problems,and variousitemsmeasuringgeneralaffectand health.

D EM OGRAPHIC CHA RAC TER ISTICS

Occupation. Three questionsaddressedthe respondent'sexact


occupationwhich, usingStatisticsCanadaoriteria,werecodedinto
six broad groupings:(l) Managerial,Administrative;(2) Profes-
sionalOccupations; (4) Sales;
(3) Clericaland relatedoccupations;
(5) Service;(6) Processing,Machining, ProductFabricating,Con-
struction,Transporl,Equipment.
Genderand Age. Respondentswere also askedto indicatetheir
genderand age.
WorkplaceAffect. A seriesof 14 items examinedvarious affec-
tive characteristicsof the workplace:

Shift Work: Respondentswere askedto indicatethe shifts that


they usuallywork. Thesewere recodedinto a di-
Scou Macdonald and Peter Maclntvre

chotomous_variable representingthose working


primarily during the day versus those doing shift
work.
Boredom: Two items assessedthe degreeto which the re-
_ spondentfelt isolatedand aloneon thejob.
Danger: Two items assessedthe degreeto which respon-
dentsfelt that their work was dangerous.
Control: Three items assessedto degreeto which respon-
dentshad control over their work.
Job Security: Two items measuredthe degreeto which respon-
dentsfelt that their job was secure(i.e., they were
not in jeopardy of losing it).

SpecificPersonal Problems.A seriesof eight items with Likert


responsecategories addressedthe degreeto which respondentsex_
periencedpersonalproblemspertainingto control overbne,shealth.
amountof sleep,worry, financial difficulties, counsellingneedsfor
children,marriage,or individual legal difficulties.
!9neryl Afect and Health. The iterns measuringgeneralaflect
and healthwere:

Sleep: In the last month, how often did you have trouble
getting to sleepor stayingawake?
Worn out: In the pastmonth, how often were you wom out at
the end of your work day (or shift) to the extent
that you did not really enjoy your time away from
work?
Health: In general, compared to other personsyour age
would you say that your healthis good?
Happy: 11generalwould you say that you are happy?
Life Stress: Would you describeyour life as stressful?

RESALTS

Factor Analysis

Factoranalyseswere conductedon the items from the initial item


pool. A set of l2 items consistentlydefinedthe first factor in proce_
IO EMPLOYEEASSISTANCEQIJARTERLY

dures that extracted two, three, four, and five factors using both
Principal Componentsand Maximum Likelihood extractionheth-
ods, as well as both VARIMAX (orthogonal) and OBLIMIN
(oblique) rotations.Theseprocedureswere followed to ensurethat
the factorswere stableacrossextractionand rotation methods.The
first factor was consistentlydefined by the sameset of variables.
When a threefactor solutionwasproduced,the first factorremained
intact while the secondfactor broke into two components.Similar-
ly, when four and five factor solutionswere produied,only the first
factor remainedintact. Thus, the first extraCtedfactor wai consid-
ered to be robust acrossextractionmethods,as reconunendedbv
4anis (1967),and thereforea reliablemeasureof a singleconstruci.
Two.itemswere subsequentlydroppedbecausethey appearedto be
nearly identical with two other variablesand did not iignificantly
add to the reliability or validity of the scale.
A description of the remaining l0 items that defined the first
factor are shown in Table 2 along with their factor loadings ob-
tained from a principal componentsanalysis.All of the loidings
were abovethe traditionalcut-offvalue of .30.Table2 alsopresents

TABLE2. ltemProperties
Loadlng Label

.46 4.17 .86 I getalong


withsupervisors
.43 3.22 1.27 Allmytalonls
andskills
areused
.n 3.98 .94 I feelgood myjob
about
.70 3.27 1.19 I receive forajobweltdone
recognition
.61 3.67 1.09 I feelgoodabout
wofiingatthiscompany
.57 3.44 1.00 tothepeople
lleelclose atwork
.64 .t.o I 1.09 lleelsecure myjob
about
t o', 1.27 I believe
managemont
isconcerned
aboutme
.52 3.41 1.12 Onthewhols,
I believe
workisgood
l0rmy
physical
health
,JU 3.68 1.10 aregood
Mywages
Number ' 787
olCases
Scou Macdonald and Peler Maclntyre II

the item means and standarddeviations.The Chronbach'salpha


reliability for this scale(c = .77) was acceptable.The diversity of
item themeslikely reducedthe reliability coefficient. However, a
diversity of items is consistentwith the intentto includethe relevant
facetsof job satisfaction.

Effects ofAge, Occupational Type,and Gender

The potential influence of age, occupationtype, and genderon


the universalscale of job satisfactionwers examined.A t-test re-
vealedno significantdifferencebetweenmalesand females.A one-
way ANOVA revealed no significant differencesamong the six
occupationalgroups. However, a significant effect was found for
agegroup (p < .001).Posthoc tests(Tukey'sHSD) revealedthat the
oldest group was significantly more satisfiedthan all of the others
and no other significant differenceswere found. These findings
indicate that similar levels ofjob satisfactionare experiencedfor
malesand femalesand in most occupationaland agegroups.

Workplace Variubles

Correlationswere computedbetweenthe scale scoresand vari-


ablesrepresentingcharacteristicsof thejob and measuresof work-
place affect. Low, but significant, correlationswere obtainedwith
measuresof income, hours worked, and occupational prestige.
Much higher correlationswere obtainedfor measuresof workplace
affect: feeling isolated,feeling in control of one's work, perceived
dangerofillness or injury feeling bored,and the perceptionofjob
security. The differencesin the magnitudesof these correlations
may be taken as evidencethat structuralpropertiesof the job may
be lessimportantin job satisfactionthan are the affectivereactions
to thejob. For example,the scaleincludesthe item "my wagesare
good," but this does not correlatehighly with the actual value of
those wages.Therefore,perceptionappearsto be the key concept
when measuringjob satisfaction.
Shift work may reducesatisfaction.To investigatethis possibil-
ity, a t-test was performed on two groups: individuals who work
primarily during the day versus those who work other shifts. A
12 EMPLOYEEASSISTANCEQUARTERLY

significant difference in job satisfactionwas observed(p < .01).


Thosewho perform shift work were lesssatisfiedthan thoie peopie
who work regularhours.

VariablesOutside the Workplace

The job satisfactionscalewas signifrcantlycorrelatedwith vari-


ablesmeasuringfactorsoutsidethe workplaceaswell (seeTable3).
The strongestcorrelatesofjob satisfactionwere: degreeofoverall
happiness,feeling worn out, and extentof sleepingpioblems.High
levels of satisfactionwere relatedto being happy,not feeling wor-
ried, and sleepingwell. Thesecorelation coefficientsmight bi seen
as support for the hypothesisthatjob satisfactioninfluenceshome
life and (potentially)vice versa.
Correlationswere also computedwith variablesrepresentingaf-
fective reactionsto life in general.All of the variablesincludedin
this.analysiscorrelatesignificantly with job satisfaction,including
feeling worn out, having sleepingproblems,feeling stressin onet
life, and feeling healthy.The highestcorrelationwas observedbe-
tween job satisfactionand perhapsthe most general measureof
affectivity,"I feel happy" 1r2- 371.
In addition to these general reactions,more specific personal
problems were correlatedwith job satisfaction.The scale shows
small but significantcorrelationswith all eight of the problemsand
the highest correlationsare observedfor the items measuringthe
tendencyto worry, to get enough sleep,and to have control over
one's health.
Theseresults,coupled with those observedfor variableswithin
the workplace,supportthe validify of the scaleand demonstratethe
potentiallypervasiveeffectsof satisfactionwith one'sjob.

Practical Application of the Scale in the Workplace

Appendix A shows the scaleitems, responsecategoriesand an


explanation of how to interpret scores for the scale. Employees
circle the number correspondingto their degreeof agreemenifor
eachitem, and add all the numberstogetherto form a compositejob
satisfactionscore.Norms,or percentileratingsareprovide-din oider
that individualscan assesshow their iob satisfactionrelatesto oth-
Scott Macdonald and Peter Maclntvre I3

TABLE3. Statistically (p . .05)Correlations


Signilicant of Job Satisfaction
InsideandOutsidetheWorkplace
wilh Variables
Varlablss Corrslrtlon
Coofllclonls

Characteristics
ol theJob

lncome 19
# of hourswofied 10
(preslige)
Blishen 13
Workplace
Atlect
lsolaled -.54

Conlrol .31
Dangor -.19

Boredom - .41

Jobsecurily
General Reactions
Aflective
Happiness .97
Healthy .14
Lileslress -.15

problems
Sleep -.19

Feeling
wornoul -.26

Personal
Problems
overhealth
Conlrol .23
Getenoqhsleep .25
Worry
aboulthings
lellbelore
Nomoney PayDay
Children
need
counselling -.12

isinlrouble
Ma.riage -.11

Legal
difliculties -.08

D€sirs
counselling -.19
14 EMPLOYEEASSISTANCEQUARTERLY

ers. Finally, somecharacteristicsrelatedto job satisfactionare pro-


vided, basedon the resultsreportedhere.

DISCUSSION
The objectiveof this study was to introducea scaleofjob satis-
faction reievantto a wide rangeof occupationalgroups.The sample
used in this study was obtainedfrom a wide variety of employees.
Therefore,the scale should have relevanceto practically any oc-
cupation.The fact that no significantdifferencesin scaleaverages
were found among the occupationalgroupsor betweenmalesand
females indicatesthat the scale has relevancein a variety of em-
ployment settingswithout separatenorms for eachgroup. Further-
moie, overall siale meanswere consistentfor those betweenthe
*A of20 and60.
ages
secondgoal was to createa short scale(10 items) so that its
length would not be a detenent for practical applicationsin the
workplace and future research.For this reasonit was necessaryto
measurethe various facetsof job satisfactionwith single items in
order to cover the widest possibledomain.The resultsof this study
indicatethat this combinaiionofthe facetsapproachand the general
approachcan be successfulbecausethe model ofjob satisfaction
presentedhere focuseson the reaction to events rather than the
events themselves.Analysis showedthat objective characteristics
of a job accountfor only a small percentageof the variancein job
satisfaction.On the other hand, psychologicalreactionto the job
(such as isolation or boredom) was strongly associatedwith job
iatisfaction and accountedfor a substantialportion ofits variance'
An additional advantageof this type of model is that although
idiosyncrasiesin the individual or the workplace exist, the focus
rernuinson the respondent'sevaluationofhisiher satisfactionwith
thatjob. However,ihis scalecould be further improvedby applying
appropriateweights accordingto the level of importance.respon-
aints placeon eachfacet,as suggestedby Rice et al' (1991).
Rezultsshow that the genericjob satisfactionscaleis relatedto
variables external to the workplace. It is likely that job and life
satisfactioninfluence each other and the nature of that influence
may changefrom time to time. A crisis at work may causedisrup-
Scoil Macdonald and peter Maclntyre Is

tion at home and later a crisis at home might causedisruption at


work. However,Chacko( I 983) doessuggesithat aspectsof the
ioU
influencehome life more thanhome life influencesthejob. If this is
the case,then measuresof job satisfactionmay havelmplications
well beyondthe workplace.

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A P P E N D IA
X

Scale
JobSatislaction

Foreachslalement,pleasecirclethe numberlo indicateyourdegreeol agreemenl.

Slrongly Don't Slrongly


DisagreeDisgree Know Agree Agree

I receiverecognition
tor a iob welldone 1 2 3 4 5
ffeefcloseto thepeopleat work 1 2 3 4 5
I leelgoodaboutworkingat lhiscompany 1 2 3 4 5
lleefsecureaboutmyiob 1 2 3 4 5
is concerned
I believemaragemenl
aboutmo 1 2 3 4 5
On lhe whole,I believeworkis goodlor
my physicalhealth 1 2 3 4 5
Mywagesaregood 1 2 3 4 5
Alf my talentsandskillsareusedat work 1 2 3 4 5
I get afongwithmy supervisors 1 2 3 4 5
ffeelgoodaboutmyiob 1 2 3 4 5
Addscores.Interpretalion: 42-50--veryhighi39-41-high;32-3&-average, 27-3l,-low'
1O-2$-very low.Thisscaleis moslaccuratelor employeesbetweenlhe agesof 25 and
60. Thoseunder25 tend to have lowerjob satislactionand those60 and over have
higherjob satisfaclion.The scale worksequallywell for malesand lemaleslrom all
occupattions. of highscorers{ewsleepingproblems,happyin personal
Characteristics
lile, don't leel worn out at end oi day, don't desirecounsellingand rarelyworry.Job
salisfaction refleclshowhappyyou are withyourjob.Job salislaction can be improved
by eitherchangingone'sattitirdetowardstheiob or changingto a newiob environment.