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Perception of the Influence of Training on Job Satisfaction

The ‘information age’ has sparked a revolution in the way that employees think and see themselves in relation to their jobs, lifestyle and quality of life. The days where a person was defined by his work has shifted, especially in those positions where one’s skill sets are the basis for one’s profession or avocation.

The importance of how one feels, sees and thinks about his job have ramifications for not only the individual himself, but disco-workers, family, friends and of course the company they work for. And quality of life means that individuals are highly concerned with how and what they feel about themselves overall. Hoch child (1997) discovered that for many people their work takes priority over their home life as that is where they tend to develop friendships, a sense of accomplishment, a source of meaning and in many cases relaxation.

Stoltenberg (2001) as well as Hoch child (1997) noted that long working hours and the demands of the workplace tends to cause some people to want to spend more time at work, thus creating a reduction in the time spent at home. In some instances this preference for work is as a result of not wanting to be at home to deal with the domestic pressures of children, relatives, and allied concerns. These views however cannot be postulated as universal as Jacobs, et all (2001) as well as Biel by (1998) found no evidence of a cultural shift whereby work was replacing the home and or family in terms of “…relative satisfaction…”

The preceding opposite spectrum views seem to lend credence to a middle of the road approach whereby satisfaction with the varied aspects of one’s life is the central issue, followed by family and work in closer almost equal order. Rather than skew the equation of work versus home or family, which could have the effect of influencing correlations, this middle of the road approach seems to represent the safest avenue in view of the lack of a discernable evidence to the contrary.

Keeping things in perspective, the assumption in correlating job satisfaction is that the individual’s home life is relatively stable as well as happy. The importance of job satisfaction works inflator of both the employee(s) as well as employer(s) in that there is an exchange of value for money. The employer / employee relationship is based upon, in general terms, the employer providing the means (meaning facilities, structure(s), organization(s), payroll, etc. ) and the employee providing the expertise.

This symbiotic relationship exists to benefit both and thus it is in the employer’s best interests to provide working environment that compensates as well as fosters a positive spirit of accomplishment. Assuming these aspects are in order, we would like to examine the perception as well as influence of training as a component of job satisfaction set in the environment of small timid-sized financial service businesses in China.

In order to achieve this end, several theories shall be utilized to establish the rationale for the survey utilizing known sources as the basis. If human needs, wants and desires differed dramatically from each other depending upon locale, one would first have to understand these difference and then construct the appropriate survey, making such task costly as well as time consuming. Fortunately, such is not the case.

Chapter 1 – Introduction

The underlying nature of civilization is “…a communal understanding…” of various people who either choose or are somehow caused to live within a group. The very core of human existence is the need to survive, and the banding of humans serves to meet this need. Depending upon the point in time one selects, civilization can further be defined as the “…advanced state of intellectual, cultural, and material development…” which is usually measured by the evolution of“…arts and sciences…” as well as the keeping of records, literature and complex social and political foundations and institutions. The relative degree(s) of safety afforded by civilization permits humans to ascend to a consistent series of higher values on all planes, education, arts, sciences, social and moral.

As a result of the foregoing their expectations, goals, dreams and aspirations also rise. Human behaviour, in general terms, is a “…collection of activities performed by…” that is “…influenced by culture, attitudes, emotions, values, ethics, authority, rapport, …persuasion and…” other factors. The preceding is linked to the “…acceptability…” of that behaviour within the norms of social and other political factors inherent in their particular civilization (country). The foregoing creates a general populace mind set on broad issues and thus expectations that are attainable within said civilization.

Civilization permits individuals to pursue varied peaceful means to choose the occupation(s) which they determine offers them the best chance at achieving the objectives and goals they have set for themselves. In its truest sense, most would prefer to either be wealthy or own a business than to work for a company. However since this cannot be the case, the majority of individuals seek employment within various firms where they perform under a variety of titles (such as broker, vice president, HR Manager, trainer, financial analyst, etc.), for differing scales of compensation.

A constant within the working environment is that they are all trading their individual levels of expertise for scales of pay as well as the potential for future advancement and increasing levels of compensation. The company’s contribution to this synergy is to provide a working environment that stimulates, encourages, plans and prepares its personnel for their current as well as future positions through support and training. The preceding factors represent a constant which shall be utilized as the foundation for examining not only job satisfaction, but also how employees perceive training and its influence in this genre.

The concept of job satisfaction also entails the varied personal as well as organizational factors which each person brings with them as a result of their own individual goals, objectives, wants, needs, desires and other factors. The preceding forms the basis for an individual’s motivation. Motivation plays an important part in the job satisfaction equation, as does providing a sense of support, potentials for advancement, increased skill sets and a commitment by the company in the success of its staff.

Communicating the preceding entails that the company utilizes a corporate culture that fosters the development of morale, ergonomic working conditions, and support mechanisms which benefits employees as they are the principle assets of the company. Job satisfaction among employees represents “…the sum of all negative and positive aspects…” concerning a person’s perception of:

  • wage and advancement possibilities,
  • the net effects of their physical as well as emotional working conditions,
  • how authority is administered,
  • degree(s) of success achieved and the compensation and or promotional rewards obtained,
  • the social as well as cultural underpinnings,
  • interpersonal work relationships
  • how they view their individual responsibilities and work functions

The manner in which a company establishes its concern for the wellbeing, success and future of its employees contributes to heightening how they feel, think and view not only their positions, but the company as well as themselves. And the initial impression start with the company, from their first day on the job. The manner in which the company handles its most valued asset via communications, notices, changes in policy, training (both formal as well as informal) and other areas is the image that employees form of it as well as management.

And this direct affects morale, work performance, quality of work and other factors. A responsive as well as interactive corporate culture seeks two way communication with its employees. This fosters the idea that it considers their opinions as well as recommendations, which should bethe case. This type of environment helps to engender higher work performance, concentration and commitment as they see the company committed to them as well.

The influence of training on employees perception of job satisfaction takes in these broad considerations despite the defined nature of the subject matter, the perception of training and its influence on job satisfaction. Since it, training, is a specific area, one must be able to determine the other aspects, influences and issues at work which employees factor into job satisfaction, and more importantly, why!

1.1 Components of Job Satisfaction

As the underlying component in the examination of how training helps to influence one’s perception of job satisfaction, an understanding of the varied factors within this concept needs to be explored. When one is satisfied with their job (as well as the prospects for the future in relation to same), one performs better, makes less mistakes in the conduct of their work, and they mentally seek ways to improve on how they work.

We as individuals are a complex mixture of various desires, goals, wishes and dreams and as such the weight which ones applies to the varied components that affect job satisfaction may differ, but the elements themselves are there. One of the most respected explanations of job satisfaction is commonly attributed to Herzberg (1968) whose “Two Factor Theory (Motivation –Hygiene)” was conceived from a study that tested the concept that people “…have two sets of needs…” :

1. The need as animals to avoid pain
2. the need has humans to grow psychologically

The interviews conducted by Herzberg utilized a series of interviews that posed the following questions:
1. Positive feedback concerning their job:
This series of questions asked about how individuals felt about their jobs as well as their performance on the job based upon this feeling. Other questions such as whether or not their feelings influenced or impacted upon their working as well as interpersonal relationships where also included.
2. Negative feedback concerning their job:
The reverse side of the issue was explored in this series of questions that explored negative feelings.

From the preceding it was found that the factors which made individuals happy or unhappy with the job stemmed from two differing themes. These were identified as the five factors that are “…strong determiners of job satisfaction…”:
1. Achievement
2. Recognition
3. The Work
4. Responsibility
5. Advancement

Herzberg found that ‘the work, responsibility and advancement’ are the most important aspects that result in formulating “…lasting changes of attitude.” The study uncovered that there are six “…determinants of job dissatisfaction…”:

1. Company policy
2. Administrative policies
3. Supervision
4. Salary
5. Interpersonal relations
6. Working conditions

From the preceding Herzberg concluded that in terms of job satisfaction, which are motivators, the core elements had to do with employee relationships concerning their job along with job content. When individuals are dissatisfied the core of this condition was primarily as a result of the working environment or context of the job. In further examining the variables of job satisfaction /dissatisfaction Herzberg found that there were two dimensions regarding job attitudes at the psychological level concerning need structure. These are:
1. The need to avoid unpleasantness,
2. and a parallel need for personal growth

Herzberg postulates that motivation is a result of one’s personal growth and is “…based on a need to grow…” . The preceding means that individuals find their satisfaction in work that is both challenging as well as interesting and thus when one does work that they consider significant this leads to individuals finding satisfaction in that work. In other words, people are motivated to perform their jobs when they “… perceive it to be significant…” In broadening the field of context with regard to job satisfaction, Herzberg takes the position that society’s larger and more influential institutions have the responsibility to lead the way in exploring and implementing measures that provide a means for growth and the well-being of its employees.

As a result of the influence and effect of business institutions on individuals, the larger of these entities must provide leadership in both exploring and implementing new and successful techniques that provide for individual growth as well as self-actualization.

Maslow’s (1954) “Hierarchy of Needs” came about from his study of such exceptional people as Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jane Adams and other mentally stabile individuals as the basis for his observations rather than the more popular, at the time, schools of thought of Freud and B.F. Skinner. Sigmund Freud (1967) believed that the motivations of animals and humans are basically the same.

We postulated that although we are supposed to be rational we do not act that way as a result of strong emotions which over ride our rational selves. Maslow’s position is that these factors are true, but that as a result of a “…hierarchy of needs…” he states that the needs of humans are motivated by needs which are not satisfied. In conjunction with this, lower needs must first be satisfied before the higher ones. The following defines the ‘hierarchy:

1. Physiological

As human beings we all have ‘physiological’ needs which include our need for water, oxygen, salt, calcium and other mineral and vitamins. As a ‘need’ diminishes our needs creates a specific hunger to satisfy said need from items or things which we have utilized in the past. These ‘needs’ also include the avoidance of pain, the need to rest, eliminate bodily wastes, etc.

Once these ‘needs’ are either eliminated or satisfied, then we are free to think of other things. There is little correlation with job satisfaction at this level. Salary enables an individual to cope with some of these basic needs by providing the physical circumstances, such as a place to sleep, being able to buy food, etc. Depending upon one’s ability to climb the needs levels, then this basic income aspect then takes on additional importance and then factors into job satisfaction issues.

2. Safety

This second layer in the ‘hierarchy’ comes into play when the first set of ‘needs’ (physiological) are basically taken care of. This means that one seeks safe circumstances along with stability and protection. Blockages at this level include being married to an abusive husband or a dysfunctional family which skews an individual into a loop of fear, anger, violence and other aspects which accompany such conditions thus blocking the person from satisfy this need and thus moving on to the next need level.

It has been found that the lack of safety needs, in many cases, motivates individuals to become religious as it provides the comfort of a secure and safe world after death. In many individuals, this need level causes some people to seek order, structure and some limits. In terms of one’s work, this would include things such as job security, some insurance, a retirement plan and other such aspects/areas. Safety enables individuals to find relative level of comfort.

3. Love

When the preceding ‘need’ areas have been either satisfied or are under a semblance of control, individuals seek the comfort of other individuals through friendships, children, relationships and in some cases a sense of community. These things are manifested through a desire to marry, be part of a community, church, gang, club and represents part of what we look for in terms of career. The sense of belonging and acceptance are also part of this need as human beings are by nature social.

4. Esteem

As the fourth level in the hierarchy, individuals look for self-esteem which helps them to feel good about themselves in relationship to others, as well as what they either think or believe they need for themselves. Maslow stated that there are two versions of this manifestation, a lower as well as higher need for esteem. The lower needs entail getting respect from others, status, fame, recognition, reputation, appreciation and in some cases dominance. The higher form entails one’s need for self-respect and such feelings as confidence, mastery, competence, independence, achievement, and freedom. In the higher form of self-esteem the attainment of self-respect is harder to lose as one is not seeking this from others.

The negative side consists of low esteem as well as inferiority complexes. Maslow agreed with Adler’s (1998) findings that the preceding are at the roots of most of the human race’s psychological problems. The four levels covered thus far (physiological, safety, love, self-esteem) are what Maslow terms “deficit needs (or, D-needs). This is defined as those things which one does not have enough of, therefore one has a deficit, and thus one feels the need.

Once one has all one needs then one feels nothing as it is obtained and it therefore ceases to be motivating. Maslow describes this as homeostasis. This(homeostasis), operates in pretty much the same fashion as a furnace thermostat switching heat or cold on as the pre-set temperature calls for. Maslow states that the human body operates on much the same principle, when it (the body), does not have enough of a certain substance it creates a hunger for it, and when it has obtained enough, the hunger stops.

Maslow extends this principle (homeostasis), to include need factors such as safety, belonging as well as esteem. He describes the preceding as basically being survival needs and that love and esteem are needed to maintain one’s health and these needs are built into each of us on a genetic level in much the same way that instincts are.

The importance and delicacy of one’s esteem is a prime consideration that successful companies carefully consider and factor into their Human Resources as well as divisional, department and other levels or groups that describe operating groups. There are the basic workplace appearance, colours, fixtures and allied visual factors utilized to provide employees with a sense of pride that they work for such an organization.

Then there is the internal workplace environment. This is where a company can implement and foster increased employee productivity through the application of a number of principles and programs designed to bolster employee morale, confidence, commitment and a heightened sense of work involvement. The commitment by the company engenders a like response, in general, by most employees when they see that the company cares about them, then they begin to care more and more about the company, a simple human response, yet one that is often overlooked.

5. Self – Actualization

This last phase constitutes a different underlying set of principles than the preceding sections. Maslow refers to this as growth motivation (which is the opposite of deficit motivation), ‘being needs (or B-needs). The preceding needs do not entail balance or the principle of homeostasis as self-actualization needs tend to become stronger as we take care of them.

Self-actualization needs consist of our continuing desire to fulfil our potential to be all we can. This means that one wants to become the fullest and most complete ‘you’ that is possible. Attainment of self-actualization starts with seeing that one’s lower needs are first fulfilled, as much as possible. Unless these lower needs such as;

a. concern about food for survival,
b. being safe,
c. being isolated and unloved,
d. low sense of self-esteem,

for example, are met one is unable to devote themselves to filling one’s potential. Given the preceding fives (5) series of Maslow’s theories, one can understand why he estimated that just two present(2%) of world’s population is self-actualizing!

To further understand what Maslow means when discussing self-actualization, one needs to look at and understand what is meant. Maslow identifies some prominent historical individuals that he indicates meet the standard of self-actualization. He lists these people as:
– Abraham Lincoln,
– Jane Adams,
– Albert Einstein,
– Thomas Jefferson,
– Benedict Spinoza,
– Albert Schweitzer,
– Aldous Huxley,
– William James,
– Eleanor Roosevelt,

As well as twelve additional people (unnamed). From an examination of these individual’s lives, speeches, writings, acts and deeds he developed a list of qualities which seemed to indicate the characteristics of these individuals. Maslow discovered that they were all ‘self-cantered’. This means that they were able to distinguish the fake and dishonest from that which is real as well as genuine. He also found that they were / are also ‘problem-cantered’, which means that they saw life’s problems as demanding solutions rather than personal troubles.

In addition to the preceding, Maslow found that these people also had/have ‘different perception of means and ends”. The preceding means that they saw that the ends do not always justify the means, as well as the possibility that the means could very well be the ends in themselves. They further saw that the means (referred to as the journey), was actually more important, in the scheme of things, than the end.

The importance of understanding and examining self-actualizers is in context with the varied components that comprise the way individual look at, see themselves and the hidden motivational and other attributes which a company must understand in order to formulate an environment that encourages, fosters, supports and creates job satisfaction.

Chapter 2 – Correlations

The preceding section has examined the components of job satisfaction from Herzberg to Maslow. This was done to provide a clear understanding of the varied aspects which comprise the basic human need, want, desire and dream structure. The understanding of these factors is extremely important in constructing a survey which permits one to examine employee attitudes concerning their perception of training as part of job satisfaction. One of the more important facets of this idea is ‘stimulation’.

Good companies, managers, supervisors, department heads and trainers stimulate individuals to want to learn, contribute, participate and like the work they are performing. All this translates into a higher and better quality of work as a result of satisfied employees. And while various companies and institutions may be known for their products, goods and or services, the factors that brings these areas to fruition are people. The preceding is true as its individuals who weld auto seams, compute mutual funds variables, investigate cures, fly planes, prepare restaurant meals and the like. It all begins and ends with people!

The preceding clearly indicates that the recruitment and retention of qualified and skilled employees represents one of a corporations most important tasks. The Y Generation (individuals who were born after1981), represent a completely new type of employee. These individuals are electronically savvy, in either operation or knowledge of as a result of the Internet – digital phones, gadgets and a higher standard of living in terms of information and freedoms.

This means that the old standards in terms of job satisfaction need upgrading, modification and revision to fit the new demands of today’s generation. In a survey by SHRM Research (2004) the respondents were asked to comment on 16aspects which are thought to contribute to overall job satisfaction. The survey utilized Likers’ five-point scale which rates replies where ‘1’ indicates ‘very important’ and ‘5’ represents ‘very unimportant’.

The survey was comprised of three areas, 1. career development, 2.relationship with management, 3. compensation and benefits, with and ‘other’ category. The 16 aspects were:

A. Career Development
1. opportunities for career advancement within the company,
2. opportunities for career development through learning as well as professional growth,
3. job security,
4. job specific training that focuses upon individual jobs

B. Relationship With Management
1. management and employee communication,
2. the ability of employees to exercise autonomy and independence in decision making,
3. management recognition of employee job performance through direct feedback, incentives and rewards,
4. employee relationship with their supervisor

C. Compensation and Benefits
1. rating of the company’s benefit package (medical, 401K, dental, etc.)
2. rating of the company’s compensation policies (salary, bonuses)
3. the ability of employees to strike a balance between work and life

D. Other
1. rating the feeling of safety with regard to the work environment
2. the importance or meaningfulness of their job in relationship to how it contributes to society as a whole
3. the company’s overall corporate culture, which entails its industry reputation, values, work conditions, work ethic, etc.)
4. one’s relationship with their fellow employees
5. rating the interest quotient of the work in terms of it being challenging, exciting, etc.)

The preceding replies were spread across 461 HR professionals and 604employees an area where HR professionals and employees were in close agreement was the importance of opportunities for career advancement in the organization. HR professionals responded with a 43% score on the issue that career advancement was ‘very important’, and 52% of employees responded in the same manner.

In terms of an ‘important ‘rating for this question, HR professionals responded at a 51% rate as compared to 36% for employees. This indicates that HR professional tend to be aware and understand the significance of this issue(importance of opportunities for career advancement in the organization) however, HR professionals have not grasped that this issue is viewed as more important by employees then they realized as evidenced by the above. The following summarizes the remaining survey findings;

1. Question – Importance of opportunities for career development through learning and professional growth?
Rating – Very Important
Response – HR Professionals 48% Employees 51%
2. Question – Importance of opportunities for career development through learning and professional growth?
Rating – Important
Response – HR Professionals 46% Employees 40%
3. Question – Importance of opportunities for career development through learning and professional growth?
Rating – Neither important nor important
Response – HR Professionals 6% Employees 7%
4. Question – Importance of opportunities for career development through learning and professional growth?
Rating – Unimportant
5. Response – HR Professionals 1% Employees 1%

The preceding indicates that employees again perceive that this area is more important to them than do HR professionals. This further strengthens the conclusion indicated under the question ‘importance of opportunities for career advancement in the organization’ where Professionals responded with a 43% score on this issue that career advancement was ‘very important’, and 52% of employees responded in the same manner.

6. Question – Job security?
Rating – Very Important
Response – HR Professionals 59% Employees 65%
7. Question – Job security?
Rating – Important
Response – HR Professionals 37% Employees 30%
8. Question – Job security?
Rating – Neither important nor important
Response – HR Professionals 4% Employees 3%
9. Question – Job security?
Rating – Unimportant
Response – HR Professionals 0% Employees 1%

This question again indicates that there is a closeness of views with respect to this issue, however once again HR professional sunder-rated the significance of this area versus the responses by employees.

10. Question – How important is job specific training to employees?
Rating – Very Important
Response – HR Professionals 34% Employees 34%
11. Question – How important is job specific training to employees?
Rating – Important
Response – HR Professionals 58% Employees 51%
12. Question – How important is job specific training to employees?
Rating – Neither important nor important
Response – HR Professionals 7% Employees 12%
13. Question – How important is job specific training to employees?
Rating – Unimportant
Response – HR Professionals 1% Employees 1%

As in the previous responses, employees placed more significance on this issue as being ‘very important’ than did HR professionals showing that their perceptions are behind the views of personnel.

14. Question – Importance of job specific training?
Rating – Very Important
Response – HR Professionals 34% Employees 34%
15. Question – Importance of job specific training?
Rating – Important
Response – HR Professionals 58% Employees 51%
16. Question – Importance of job specific training?
Rating – Neither important nor important
Response – HR Professionals % Employees %
17. Question – Importance of job specific training?
Rating – Unimportant
Response – HR Professionals % Employees %

HR professionals saw this aspect in much the same light as do employees.

18. Question – Importance of communication between employees and management?
Rating – Very Important
Response – HR Professionals 77% Employees 62%
19. Question – Importance of communication between employees and management?
Rating – Important
Response – HR Professionals 21% Employees 34%
20. Question – Importance of communication between employees and management?
Rating – Neither important nor important
Response – HR Professionals 2% Employees 3%
21. Question – Importance of communication between employees and management?
Rating – Unimportant
Response – HR Professionals 0% Employees 0%

Even though employees rated this higher in their need category (very important), HR professionals are mindful of the significance of this issue.

22. Question – Importance of employee autonomy and independence?
Rating – Very Important
Response – HR Professionals 24% Employees 46%
23. Question – Importance of employee autonomy and independence?
Rating – Important
Response – HR Professionals 67% Employees 48%
24. Question – Importance of employee autonomy and independence?
Rating – Neither important nor important
Response – HR Professionals 7% Employees 6%
25. Question – Importance of employee autonomy and independence?
Rating – Unimportant
Response – HR Professionals 1% Employees 0%

As with some preceding questions HR professionals scale of what is important from their perspective differs from the prevailing employee responses.

26. Question – Importance of management recognition of employee job performance?
Rating – Very Importance
Response – HR Professionals 62% Employees 49%
27. Question – Importance of management recognition of employee job performance?
Rating – Important
Response – HR Professionals 36% Employees 44%
28. Question – Importance of management recognition of employee job performance?
Rating – Neither important nor important
Response – HR Professionals 2% Employees 5%
29. Question – Importance of management recognition of employee job performance?
Rating – Unimportant
Response – HR Professionals 0% Employees 1%

The employee responses in this area seem slightly different than one would expect. It would seem that employees would want management recognition, however the nature of management tends to distance itself from employees as they do not get to interact with them. As such it is possible

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