JOB SATISFACTION IN COLORADO PARKS
Bruce R. Lindsay
B.A., Metropolitan State College of Denver, 2001
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Public Administration
This thesis for the Master of Public Administration
Bruce R. Lindsay
has been approved
Lindsay, Bruce Robert (Master of Public Administration)
Job Satisfaction in Colorado Parks and Recreation
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor (Adjunct) Tanya Settles.
There has been extensive research investigating job satisfaction and its
determinants in a multitude of professions. This study extends the prior research
to a different sample-the occupational field of parks and recreation. Furthermore,
an analysis of survey responses from a sample of 149 parks and recreation
employees indicates that there are determinants that are consistently associated
with employee satisfaction and that the field as a whole exhibits high levels of job
satisfaction. The findings in this study are beneficial in assisting parks and
recreation management in attaining employee satisfaction in their organization.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
I would like to express my gratitude to the Colorado Parks and Recreation
Association for their generous grant and the use of their membership list. Without
their help this study would have been much more difficult to conduct. I also wish
to thank Nancy Tran for her assistance and dazzling computer skills, Dr. Robert
Gage for his mentorship and advice in formulating this thesis, Dr. Tanya Settles
for her patience and statistical expertise, and Dr. Sandra Gudmundsen whose
friendship and guidance have been invaluable to me.
The Occupational Field of Parks and
Significance of the Study........................5
Work as a Paradigm of Self-Actualization.........8
2. REVIEW OF LITERATURE ON JOB
Literature Specific to Job Satisfaction.........13
Classic Models of Motivation....................17
Maslows Hierarchy of Needs...............18
Herzbergs Motivation- Maintenance
Vrooms Expectancy Theory.................19
Determinants of Job Satisfaction.............. 19
The Role of the Supervisor in
Stress and the Supervisor........................31
3. THE THEORY AND RESEARCH
OF LITERATURE SPECIFIC TO
The Role of Personality Traits
in Job Satisfaction..............................34
Employees Response to Job
Physical Job Withdrawal....................37
The Effect of Job Dissatisfaction on
Toxic Work Environments....................43
Health Problems Created by Job
The Relationship Between Job
Dissatisfaction, Stress, and Job
Symptoms of Job Burnout.................47
4. SUMMARY OF WHAT IS
KNOWN AND UNKNOWN
ABOUT JOB SATISFACTION
AND JOB DISSATISFACTION.............................53
Treatment of the Data.........................57
Limitations of the Study......................58
6. FINDINGS....................................... :...60
Hypothesis I: As an Occupational
Group, Parks and Recreation
Employees are Highly Satisfied
in Their Jobs.................................60
Hypothesis II: Employees in Parks
and Recreation Generally Believe
Management is Responsible
for Ensuring That Their Jobs
are as Satisfying as Reasonably
Hypothesis III: There is a
Correlation Between Reported Job
Satisfaction and Employees
Perception of Managements Ability
to Create a Satisfying Work
Hypothesis IV: There are Certain
Identifiable Variables that Create or
Enhance Overall Job Satisfaction in
Parks and Recreation................................62
Additional Findings............................... 64
How Professionals in Parks and
Recreation Describe Their Jobs...............64
What Parks and Recreation
Employees Want in Their Jobs.................66
Comparisons to Other Occupations/
Unanticipated Results............................. 71
Responses to the Open-Ended
Determinants That Increased or
Sustained Levels of Job
Elements That Decreased Job
Alternative Explanations for the
Implications for Professional Practice
or Decision Making................................81
Recommendations for Further
Target Entry Level and
Study Parks and Recreation
Employees in Other States...................82
Use Qualitative Research....................83
Study Stress in Parks and
Use Statistics Beyond Correlations..........83
Use Instrumentation Specific
to Parks and Recreation.....................84
A. Definitions Of Terms.................................... 85
B. Survey Cover Letter.......................................90
C. Job Diagnostic Survey.....................................91
2.1 Determinants of Job Satisfaction...................................28
2.2 What Employees Want From Then-
3.1 Response to Job Dissatisfaction....................................52
6.1 Comparison of Determinants of Job
Satisfaction Between Parks and Recreation
Employees and Employees From Previous
While attending a conference on parks and recreation, I listened to a
speaker who confidently posited we have the greatest jobs in the world. We run
around in shorts, play with kids, and promote sports and recreation. However, I
noticed that within my own organization, turnover was high and morale was quite
low. I wondered if the agency I worked for was an anomaly, or an accurate
representation of the field parks and recreation as a whole. Is it possible that one
and the same job to be the greatest and yet be one in which sees high turnover;
to be presumably a desirable job that individuals hold for as little time as
After a preliminary investigation I found that there appeared to be no
study directly targeting the levels of job satisfaction in the field of parks and
recreation. This is the question that this thesis seeks to answer. Specifically, the
purpose of this thesis is to take the speakers proposition to task, so to speak, and
answer completely whether or not, the occupational field of parks and recreation
is one that produces an adequate level of job satisfaction. In order to answer this
question fully, the research in this study will be followed by an evaluation of the
levels of job satisfaction experienced by park and recreation workers in Colorado.
In the process of this evaluation, the following hypotheses will be tested:
1. As an occupational group, parks and recreation employees are highly
satisfied in their jobs.
2. Employees in parks and recreation generally believe management is
responsible for ensuring that their jobs are as satisfying as reasonably
3. There is a correlation between reported job satisfaction and
employees perception of managements ability to create a satisfying
4. There are certain identifiable variables that create or enhance overall
job satisfaction in parks and recreation.
The Occupational Field of Parks and Recreation
Today, all over America, millions of people of all ages are engaging in a
wide variety of recreational programs (Crossley, Jamieson, Brayley, 2001),
creating one of the largest and fastest growing careers in the nation (Kraus, 2002).
It is anticipated that the trend in recreation usage will continue to rise as increased
discretionary time becomes available for a large segment of the American
population (Rodney and Toalson, 1981). As demand for recreation persists,
employment opportunities in recreation service professions have increased
dramatically (U.S. Department of Labor, 2002). Regardless of the increase in
recreation careers, the demand for recreation services exceeds the capacity that
parks and recreation professionals can supply (Edginton, Compton, and Hanson,
Public recreation and park agencies employ hundreds of thousands of
leaders, program specialists, facility planners, managers, and numerous other
types of workers. The discipline consists of tax-supported, civil service-regulated
departments ranging from local recreation and park units to such major agencies
as the National Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land
Management (U.S. Department of Labor, 2002).
The majority of these employees are composed of individuals who work in
recreation services. Work in parks and recreation is typically comprised of
organizing recreational activities, creating and supervising programs, and
planning activities. These activities take place in numerous settings and the work
characteristically involves a great deal of personal interaction (Jensen, 1976).
Successful employees in parks and recreation work effectively with the
public, have a great appreciation, skill, and interest in public service, community
development, and leadership abilities. They enjoy life and want to help others do
the same (Jensen, 1976).
Work in the field of parks and recreation is unique when compared to
conventional, contemporary occupations. Like a private business, it has fiscal and
budget responsibilities. Financing, budget preparation, and financial record
keeping are all responsibilities of parks and recreation management (Guadagnolo,
1987). The function of customer service is also vital because the product of the
industry is a service (Rodney and Toalson, 1981), and requires knowledge of
facility management, and mastering a variety of programmatic concepts.
On the other hand, unlike like a private business, parks and recreation is in
most circumstances a branch of the government, or special district, serving a base
of constituents. However, jobs in parks and recreation tend to have a much greater
involvement with the community distinguishing it from standard governmental
work. Moreover, the field closely resembles a non-profit organization in that
while being driven by motives other than profit, they are fiscally responsible for
Moreover, the work in parks and recreation is different than standard jobs
because it usually involves an element of physicality rather than sedentary work.
Further, this physicality is not associated with physical strain and therefore does
not, in most cases, lead to physical problems that would occur in strenuous jobs.
In other words, the physicality in parks and recreation can improve health rather
than negatively impact the employee.
Another aspect that sets work apart in parks and recreation is that in most
cases, the employees are not confined to cubicles or offices, at least not for long
durations, and are usually able to go outdoors at their discretion.
Finally, there is an abstract element that sets parks and recreation apart
from other occupations. This is the communitarian ethic that characterizes the
work of parks and recreation employees. This communitarian ethic creates a sense
of moral duty that serving the community is of great importance, even to the
extent of incurring costs. This violates the arguably utilitarian ethic that typifies
private, governmental, and quasi-govemmental organizations leading one to
believe that a great deal of the satisfaction employees derive from the occupation
is derivative of the communitarian ethic.
Consequently, because it is such a large and unique field, it would be
disingenuous to generalize job satisfaction theory and concepts to parks and
recreation that have been derived from studies in disparate occupations.
Significance of the Study
Considerable evidence exists to support the value of using management
techniques to promote job satisfaction in the workplace (Rainey, 1991), and there
are practical as well as theoretical reasons for conducting this study. From a
practical administrative perspective, an awareness of employee needs will greatly
facilitate managements attempt to motivate its employees. Furthermore,
identifying elements that influence job satisfaction is of great importance to
recreation management, for it allows them to make intelligent decisions regarding
preventive interventions that preclude job dissatisfaction from occurring.
Many negative consequences such as absenteeism, turnover, employee
theft, poor customer satisfaction, and in some extreme cases, violence, are
attributable to job dissatisfaction (Noe, et al.1996). Avoiding and/or reducing
these occurrences make the study of job satisfaction prudent. However, there are
other reasons to explore the dimensions of job satisfaction in parks and recreation.
On a theoretical level, this study will explore determinants that enhance
job satisfaction within the field of parks and recreation. Ideally it will identify
what these employees desire and/or need in their professions to enhance job
satisfaction, and will establish what parks and recreation professionals expect in
terms of creating an organizational environment that maximizes the employees
job satisfaction. Furthermore, applying the concepts gained from this study can
assist parks and recreation management assemble a competent work-force
because studies have shown that job satisfaction is an important aspect in
attracting and retaining skilled professionals (Faubion, Palmer and Andrew,
Finally, it is important to recognize that the various occupational settings
encountered by the individual produce the most pervasive, continuous demands
throughout their lifetime and constitutes the largest amount of active time in adult
life (Laird, et al. 1983). Simply put, if youre not happy with your job, you are
probably not satisfied with your life. This then leads to a more abstract
As management of a large industry, I would posit that we are responsible
for doing what we can to produce job satisfaction; for if we turn a blind eye on
worker satisfaction, either intentionally or through ignorance, we are complicit in
creating a form of human misery for our employees. Studies have demonstrated
that job satisfaction has only been tangentially related to productivity.
Nonetheless, it is important to work toward improving job satisfaction because
doing so is simply good human relations (Bassett, 1994).
I must concede that the moral culpability of management in achieving job
satisfaction is a philosophical issue that does not lend itself easily to a social
science project. However, I think that the argument that job satisfaction should be
sought to in terms of productivity is decidedly one-sided and any attempt to
achieve job satisfaction without understanding the moral imperative to do so is
vacuous. In other words, can an organization truly promote job satisfaction if its
only intention is productivity or the profits of the organization?
I argue that the impetus of job satisfaction in an organization should come
from a desire to enrich the employees of the organization. At the same time, I
must acknowledge that reaching some sort of Kantian regulative ideal is not
within the realm of possibility and a utopian work organization is simply not
going to occur through job satisfaction. While this may be the case, normatively,
regulative ideals and categorical imperatives ought to guide our decisions in our
selection of human relations at work.
Work as a Paradigm of Self-Actualization
There are those who believe that work is a form of drudgery, a necessary
evil of human existence. The perspective taken in this thesis is that work is the
necessary, teleological component in fulfilling ones life, and essential to
achieving, at least to some degree, self-actualization.
The act and function of work is important in more ways than one. First, its
importance is readily observable, to wit: it is a prerequisite for continuous income
opportunities that dictates an individuals access to life opportunities. Secondly,
the most important goal of primary and secondary socialization is achievement of
occupational status. Through education, job training, and status acquisition, one
begets personal growth, and a core of social identity developed outside of the
family. Finally, occupation defines the most important criterion of social
stratification in advanced societies (Laird, Laird, and Fruehling, 1983).
An individuals work or occupation is arguably crucial for his or her self-
knowledge and further aspirations. One sees that work experience(s) may
contribute in either a positive or a negative way depending on the employees
sense of meaningful accomplishment. In short, an employee eager to repeat a
satisfying work experience is likely to contribute positively to society. When the
experience is negative, society as a whole may feel the burden of a negative work
In sum, managements ability to obtain and preserve job satisfaction in
their organization is twofold. Pragmatically, from a business perspective, job
satisfaction is beneficial in improving customer service, combating absenteeism,
tardiness, and turnover (to name a few). Ethically, the matter of job satisfaction
should be a concern because management is morally culpable to ensure that they
are not contributing to a form of human suffering, namely job dissatisfaction. As
Bennis and Nanus (1985) asserted in their book Leaders: The strategies of Taking
Charge, managers can move their employees to higher levels of consciousness,
such as liberty, freedom, justice, and self-actualization. The argument asserted in
this thesis is that managers are not only capable in creating work conducive to
higher levels of consciousness, but are morally obligated to do so.
REVIEW OF LITERATURE ON JOB
There are relatively few studies dealing with the job satisfaction of
recreation workers as an occupational group and there are no known studies
performed comparing jobs in parks and recreation to other fields. Of the literature
reviewed, the following have addressed the phenomena of job satisfaction in the
field of recreation.
Daniel Hobbs (1987) discussed a program called the Worker Incentive
and Satisfaction Program implemented in 1976 by the Rockville city government
to increase its productivity. Hobbs states that the program saved direct and
indirect costs, improved employee morale and procedures, and the employees
displayed a deeper appreciation for organizational productivity. Hobbs also stated
as an additional advantage there was a reduction in employee absenteeism. The
success of the program was attributed to the utilization of experimental programs
such as a four-day workweek and heavy emphasis on feedback between the
supervisors and employees in the selection and execution of projects. This created
an atmosphere conducive to free and open discussions (Hobbs, 1987).
Underpinning this free exchange was the concept of making the most of
employees as a source of ideas concerning productivity. These employees were
viewed as experts in their work situations. Ultimately the program was viewed as
a major success.
Shinew and Weston (1992) posit that the leisure industry, which is heavily
service-oriented, may benefit from adopting some of the reward techniques
traditionally found in the manufacturing sector. These techniques increase
productivity and improve customer service, as well as decrease absenteeism and
turnover rates. The article suggests that management adopt major theories
regarding motivation and use them in the leisure industry, including goal setting,
expectancy, reward allocation, and equity.
Furthermore, the article delineates the essential characteristics of an
effective reward system and provides specific implications and recommendations
for leisure service managers. Similarly, Havitz, Twyman and DeLorenzo (1991)
found that differences in perceived importance of various job-related tasks, and in
the perceptions of the departments performance of those tasks. The authors
suggest that the results of the study should be useful for guiding future
management decisions pertaining to job assignments, employee morale, and
On the issue of job satisfaction and compensation, Yen and McKinney
(1992) found that there are significant differences in perceived job characteristics
and compensation satisfaction for mid-level managers in public and private
leisure service organizations. Compensation satisfaction was measured with the
Pay Satisfaction Questionnaire (PSQ) developed by Heneman and Schwab
(1985). Perceived job characteristics were measured with the Job Characteristics
Inventory (JCI) developed by Sims, Szilagyi, and Keller (1976). The results
indicated that public managers and private managers differ in their perceptions of
their jobs and compensation. They also have different perceptions regarding their
job characteristics and compensation satisfaction.
Public managers perceived dealing with others as the most important
element in their jobs, and private managers rated task identity as being most
important. Public managers were more satisfied with their benefits than were
private managers. However, private managers were more satisfied with their pay
raises, structure, and administration than public managers. Positive relationships
between perceived job characteristics and compensation satisfaction were found
for both public and private managers.
In sum, most of the literature that exists, most deal with the expected
issues if the differences between the private and public sector relative to parks and
recreation enterprises (Yen and McKinney, 1992), the separation of work between
management, support, professionals and other employees (Havitz, Twyman, and
DeLorenzo, 1991), and methods to improve productivity through enhanced
participation of worker (Hobbs, 1987).
While these studies address job satisfaction, the main focus of these
studies was to measure elements of job satisfaction, such as task identity,
motivation, and work perceptions. With the exception of the Yen and McKinney
study, no literature comparing the job satisfaction of individuals and groups in the
parks and recreation field could be identified. In the Yen and McKinny article,
public and private leisure service professionals were juxtaposed. However, for the
purpose of this thesis, these two professions are too similar to yield any
significant information on job satisfaction levels, or the determinants of job
satisfaction within the field of parks and recreation.
The research conducted in this thesis differs from these studies in two
important ways. First, this study investigates the exact antecedents of job
satisfaction in parks and recreation. Secondly, these previous studies do not
establish whether it is the case that parks and recreation is a desirable occupation
based on its level of perceived job satisfaction.
Literature Specific to Job Satisfaction
In order to provide a contextual understanding of this thesis, it is necessary
to grasp the determinants of job satisfaction, job dissatisfaction, and job burnout.
It is important to note that these are presented in this study in progressive stages
for the sake of readability and comprehension. However, each individual responds
differently to job satisfaction or dissatisfaction and may or may not progress along
a specified, prescribed continuum.
Job satisfaction is probably the most studied variable in organizational
research (Rainey, 1991). In his review of studies on job satisfaction, Locke (1976)
noted that his estimate of 3,350 formal studies on job satisfaction was a
conservative one. Job satisfaction is defined as the degree to which employees
feel negatively or positively towards their jobs. It is an attitudinal or emotional
response to ones tasks, as well as the social and physical conditions of the
organizational environment (Schermerhom, Hunt, and Osborn, 2000).
There are two reward systems that affect job satisfaction, extrinsic
rewards, and intrinsic rewards. Extrinsic rewards such as pay, promotions, status,
security, are elements that reside externally of the job. By contrast, intrinsic
rewards, for instance, challenging work, responsibility, and recognition are
elements that are innate to the job and are valued as ends in themselves (De
Leon and Taher, 1996). Intrinsic awards are ones that satisfy self-actualization
and needs of higher order growth and are more likely to improve performance
than extrinsic awards. Possibly one of the greatest advantages of having
intrinsically interesting work is that good performance is a reward in itself
(Lawler and Porter, 1975).
Additionally, job satisfaction is a function of both the number and amount
of rewards received, as well as what the employee judges to be a fair reward.
Accordingly, a small reward can be adequately satisfying if the employee
perceives it to be a fair amount for the job.
Numerous managers erroneously infer that extrinsic rewards are the most
advantageous in terms of motivating and obtaining job satisfaction. Studies have
shown however, that extrinsic rewards have a relatively weak connection to job
satisfaction (Lawler and Porter, 1975). For example, pay, the extrinsic reward that
most managers attribute to job satisfaction and motivation, is not a reliable
antecedent of worker satisfaction for there is no indication that high pay alone
improves employee job satisfaction or reduces job dissatisfaction.
In some instances, higher-than-market pay for similar work may
exacerbate levels of dissatisfaction among workers who already dislike their job.
They feel that they cannot afford to enter a more satisfying occupation thereby
locking them into their dissatisfying job (Bassett, 1994). In other instances, the
importance of job satisfaction is sometimes powerful enough to induce an
employee to seek lower paying, albeit more desirable work, hinting that there
seems to be a limit to the amount of dissatisfaction higher wages can buy (Bassett,
1994). Intrinsic rewards, on the other hand, are not only much more efficacious
tools of motivation; they are also more identifiable as an antecedent of job
satisfaction. This is most likely because they are produced by the individual
(Lawler and Porter, 1975).
The disparate ideologies between employees and employers on what
constitute job satisfaction can manifest as a disconnect between the two groups,
creating or exacerbating employee/employer tensions (Laird et al, 1983) Once
management disabuses itself of the notion that extrinsic rewards are tied to
motivation and job satisfaction, it can concentrate on the real antecedents of job
satisfaction. Management must also learn that job satisfaction does not entail
improved work performance, for it is another managerial misconception that
increased satisfaction will, cetaris paribus, increase performance. Counter
intuitively, the connection between job satisfaction and work performance has not
yet been established and studies have indicated that efforts to increase
productivity should not rely on increasing levels of job satisfaction (Bassett,
Even though job satisfaction and work performance are unrelated, many
research findings conclude that worker satisfaction is relevant for management
practice and theory because job dissatisfaction has been positively linked to poor
performance including absenteeism, and turnover. Additionally, highly
dissatisfied workers may resort to sabotage and other acts of passive aggression
All of these undesirable behaviors germane to job satisfaction create
considerable expense for the organization (Sousa-Poza and Sousa-Poza, 2000).
Moreover, there is a direct, positive relationship between employee satisfaction
and customer service. An organization comprised of dissatisfied workers will
almost always be characterized by having poor customer service, which,
consequently, will have a negative impact on customer satisfaction (Sousa-Poza
and Sousa-Poza, 2000). The field of parks and recreation is ultimately a service
industry. If recreation service providers wish to serve their constituents with
enjoyable leisure services, cut costs, and staff an effective work force, then the
service providers of parks and recreation must confront the question of job
Classic Models of Motivation
Numerous researchers have posited models of motivation that have made
their mark on the field of organizational behavior. These theories seek to achieve
job satisfaction by employing various motivational methods. These theories
include Maslows hierarchy of needs, Herzbergs motivation-maintenance model,
and Vrooms expectancy theory. The following is a brief description of each
Maslows Hierarchy of Needs
In his book Motivation and Personality. Maslow (1954) suggests that that there
are varying levels of human needs. Each level of need must be gratified to some
extent before the next level of need can be addressed (Kossen, 1994). In order
from lowest to highest these needs are basic physical needs, safety and security
needs, self-esteem/status needs, and self-actualization needs. Maslow asserted that
as lower basic needs were met, they would cease to work as a tool for motivation.
Therefore, by understanding the needs that drive the individual, management can
select appropriate rewards to motivate their employees (Kossen, 1994).
Herzbergs Motivation-Maintenance Model
Herzbergs motivation-maintenance model, also known as Herzbergs two-factor
theory, argues that there are two sets of factors that influence the behaviors of
individuals in an organization (Kossen, 1994). The first set of factors provides
little or no feelings for the individual. However, withdrawing these factors, a
process known as hygiene, or maintenance, will tend to cause dissatisfaction.
Hygiene (maintenance) factors include: Company rules and policies, quality of
supervision, relationships with supervisors, co-workers, and peers, salaries and
benefits, job security, and working conditions (Kossen, 1994). Conversely, the
addition of the second set of factors, known as satisfiers, will motivate and/or
promote job satisfaction. Examples of satisfiers include achievement, recognition,
the job itself, growth, and responsibility (Kossen, 1994).
Vrooms Expectancy Theory
Vroom espoused that that both motivation and job satisfaction are a result of a
rational calculation known as expectancy (Schermerhom, et al. 2000).
Expectancy theorists postulate that behavior is the result of how employees will
perceive a situation, what they expect from it, and what results they expect from
certain types of behavior (Kossen, 1994). In other words, employees behave a
certain way because they expect particular results from that behavior. Since every
individual employee has his or her own set of expectations, each employees
estimation of the likely outcome of their behavior is what motivates them to
behave in that particular way (Kossen, 1994).
Determinants of Job Satisfaction
The theory of job satisfaction and motivation adopted in this thesis is a
combination of Maslows hierarchy of needs and Herzbergs motivation-
maintenance model. Basically, job satisfaction and motivation can be improved,
maintained, or otherwise understood as a set of determinants that are causally
linked to job satisfaction. The following research and review of literature has
found the following elements vital for adequate job satisfaction.
Edwin Lockes (1976) The Nature and Causes of Job Satisfaction
provided the groundwork for tying the models of Maslow, Herzberg and Vroom
into a coherent system for recognizing the determinants of job satisfaction.
Indeed, Lockes work on job satisfaction is so prevalent that it is nearly
impossible not to come across his name in researching job satisfaction. Lockes
methodology is comprised of a meta-analysis on previous research to assemble a
concrete list of antecedents that have been strongly correlated with job
Adding to Lockes list of determinants, Lawler and Porter (1975) have
identified the opportunity to use ones valued skills and abilities, opportunities for
new learning, variety, creativity, difficulty, amount of work, unambiguous
pressure for performance, responsibility, job enrichment, and complexity.
Moreover, Sousa-Poza and Sousa-Poza (2000) have posited task identity as a core
job characteristic that affects job satisfaction. A common factor that pervades
almost all of these attributes is the use of cognitive skills and mental faculties.
Without these aspects, work becomes boring and meaningless.
Jobs that contain the above elements can be said to be better quality jobs.
Davenport (1999) has produced findings indicating that employees with better
quality jobs are more likely to stay with their current employer. Furthermore, the
study found that positions offering autonomy, learning opportunities,
meaningfulness, job security, and personal opportunities for advancement
increase job engagement and organizational commitment.
Overall, research has found that verbal recognition, challenging work,
achievement, whole work, training, physical environment, and autonomy
constitutes the top determinants of job satisfaction. The following section
elucidates these determinants.
Locke (1976) has identified verbal recognition by supervisors and co-workers
whose judgment the worker values and respects as one of the largest determinates
of job satisfaction. Conversely, being criticized has deleterious affects on job
satisfaction and constitutes an overwhelmingly large dissatisfier. One reason why
recognition plays such a key role is because recognition provides feedback on
whether or not one is doing their job competently. Employees tend to have a
strong dislike of job ambiguity and react negatively to situations where they are
unsure if they are performing their jobs to the supervisor or organizations
standards (Locke, 1976). Another explanation as to why recognition is integral to
job satisfaction is that esteem and approval are tied to ones perception of their
occupational achievement (Laird et al, 1983).
Most employees require challenging work to feel satisfied with their jobs.
Challenging work, when accepted, is work that is interesting and allows the
employee to become involved. However, management should be careful in
identifying what constitutes a sufficient amount of challenge for the job. If too
much challenge is applied to the job function, the work will become overly
challenging and dissatisfaction will occur. Overly challenging work creates a
situation where the employee cannot successfully cope with the challenges
presented, resulting in frustration and a sense of failure. In terms of job
satisfaction, overly challenging work can be just as destructive as unchallenging
work, if not more destructive (Locke, 1976). It is important to note that making a
job challenging does not necessarily entail that the employee will have adequate
job satisfaction. The employee must be personally interested in the work and find
it meaningful to derive satisfaction from challenging work (Locke, 1976).
In his book, The Conquest of Happiness (1958), the famous philosopher Bertrand
Russell identified work as important to the individual because it supplied needed
chances for success and opportunities for ambition. Similarly, Locke (1976)
stated that achievements or success at a task, or reaching specific standards of
confidence are central for work satisfaction and that improvement on standards
should be attainable for the worker to experience pleasure (Locke, 1976). Thus,
there must not only be challenges and opportunities available to the worker, they
must be realized and ultimately overcome for the employee to derive satisfaction.
According to Locke (1976) the pleasure derived from achievement is
attributable to ones need to cope with the environment in order to survive.
Lockes assertion that achievement is vital for job satisfaction was validated by a
1998 report by the Saratoga Institute. The report found that if there is a perception
that the organization offers a limited path for achievement and personal
development, the organization would obtain little commitment from its
Evidence further suggests that when a worker can complete a whole piece of
work, or the workers contribution to the whole is clear, the worker will experience
a sense of achievement (Locke, 1976). The sense of achievement can be
enhanced, or reinforced, if the worker receives feedback regarding the degree of
achievement attained in the project or task (Locke, 1976).
A recent study by the IR Research, (2001) suggested that training is also a factor
that can increase job satisfaction. The study found that job satisfaction is greater
in employees who participated in training than those who did not. However, the
training must have a proper correlation to the job tasks performed by the
employee and be pertinent to the demand of the job. Employees gain a sense of
competency with training adding to a feeling of achievement previously discussed
by Locke indicating achievement as an important component of job satisfaction.
Locke (1976) also found that the physical environment and working conditions
factor into job satisfaction. Employees prefer work environments that are safe and
comfortable. Moderate lighting, temperature, and noise are preferred since
extremes create physical discomfort and hamper ones ability to work effectively.
Locke stated that the principles that underlie these preferences for a pleasant
working conditions are not only attributed to the desire for physical comfort, but
are conducive to conditions that do not preclude the employee from attaining
Complimenting Lockes findings, an article addressing the work
environment as a component of employee satisfaction, identified the top five
complaints which were: the work environment was too cold or too hot,
insufficient conference space, poor janitorial service, and not enough storage
space. (Andrew, Faubion, and Palmer, 2002). In a study evaluating the factors that
influenced the performance of telemarketing sales representatives, noise,
workstation privacy, furniture, lighting, environmental control, equipment, and
amenities (e.g., water fountains, a smoking area, lockers, and private telephones)
were identified as physical elements that influenced worker satisfaction (Andrew
et al, 2002).
Studies conducted by Laird, et al. (1983) pointed out that the characteristic of job
autonomy has often been found to be related to job satisfaction. Bisconti and
Solmon, (1975) have also found in their research that workers are significantly
more satisfied with an environment that allows them opportunities to design their
work. Complimenting these previous studies a more recent study conducted by
Freemen and Rogers (1999) convincingly demonstrated that the vast majority of
people that work want more involvement and a greater say in the company
decisions that affect their work place.
Research has identified job elements that have been positively associated
as determinates of job satisfaction. Classified as rewards, these elements can be
schematically labeled as extrinsic and intrinsic rewards. Extrinsic rewards are
rewards located outside of the job. Intrinsic rewards exist within the job itself. Of
the two reward systems, intrinsic rewards have been recognized as more reliable
in terms of motivation, retention, and attainment of job satisfaction. These
elements include verbal recognition, challenging work, achievement, completing
whole and identifiable work, the physical environment, autonomy, and job
Verbal recognition refers to feedback from either the employees
supervisor(s) and/or coworkers and has been documented as one of the largest
determinants of job satisfaction. Challenging that is interesting and stimulating
without being frustrating or overly challenging, is another important element for
job satisfaction. Achievement and whole work creates a sense of accomplishment
for the employee. Additionally, satisfying work generally needs to be
comfortable, safe, and conducive to successful task completion. Work should.be
autonomous. That is, employees should have at least some degree of control over
their jobs to derive satisfaction from their work. Job training has been found to be
important for job satisfaction as it prevents employees from feeling incompetent
and helps instill confidence in their job.
Obviously, not all jobs contain these elements. However, levels of job
satisfaction found in a job will most likely be, cetaris paribus, proportionate with
the existence or non-existence of these determinants.
Figure 2.1 Determinants of Job Satisfaction
Whole Work Verbal Recognition
The Role of the Supervisor in Job Satisfaction
Recent research has been conducted to determine the causal effect of
supervision on job satisfaction. The following review of literature discloses the
findings of this research.
Davenports study, Human Capital: Employees want a return on their
investment and expect managers to help them get it in the Management Review.
found that supervisors play a crucial role in turnover and that supervisors who fail
to foster connectivity with ones job, supply feedback, or fail to recognize job
performance created abnormally high turnover for their department. The study
demonstrates that improving the supervisors capabilities and educating them with
respect to their role in maintaining and achieving job satisfaction is not only
beneficial, but also crucial for the well-being of the organization.
Moreover, Davenports study illustrates that workers desire supervisors
that deal fairly with employees without playing favorites, motivates the worker to
do their best, and effectively helps employees understand how they can grow and
develop in the organization; which studies have shown as an almost certain source
of increased satisfaction to most workers (Bassett, 1994).
Furthermore, Davenport revealed that employees desire supervisors that
act more like advisors who guide their employees development. Similarly, Basset
(1994) posited that on the whole, supervisors who act considerately toward their
employees have more satisfied work groups. Thus it may be possible to generate
high worker satisfaction through thoughtful, kind leadership.
Davenports article also reinforces the importance of autonomy as one of
the key factors of job satisfaction, asserting that job satisfaction can be
strengthened when the supervisor helps employees discover for themselves how
their work supports the organizations strategy. The supervisor does this by
assembling a workforce that knows how the organization functions, how it makes
money, how it measures success, and how and why that particular employees
contribution makes a difference in the organization (Davenport, 1999).
Additionally, good management consists of creating an organizational culture that
helps employees generate a sense of meaning in their work (Bennis and Nanus,
In a study titled What Workers Want for the Russell Sage Foundation,
Freeman and Rogers (1999) also found autonomous work to be important for
employees. The research conducted for the article established that employees
want more say in the work they do and to be able to influence how it is done. The
study states that employees believe that their input will directly improve the
quality of their working lives and, generally speaking, employees like open door
policies, suggestion boxes, and other mechanisms that promote an employees
access to management. Additionally Bisconti and Solmon (1975) concluded that
the majority of satisfied employees who desire to remain with an employer are
determined by two factors: the chances of advancement, and the relationship with
Stress and the Supervisor
Research has indicated that the supervisor can play a vital role in the
reduction of workplace stress. When employee stress is recognized the supervisor
can provide the employee with emotional and instrumental support that can buffer
or reduce the effects that job stressors can have on job-related attitudes and
outcomes. Emotional support can be characterized by actively listening and caring
about the needs of the employee, while instrumental support can be characterized
by giving concrete assistance and expertise in completing a task or job
responsibility (Kickul and Posig, 2001). Hence, the association that exists
between work related stressors and adverse employee behaviors can be moderated
by the employee's perception of supervisory support given to them through daily
interactions in the workplace (Kickul and Posig, 2001).
What Employees Want From Their Supervisor
Acts as an Advisor
Open Door Policies j !
The role of the supervisor in creating a satisfying work environment
cannot be dismissed. Competent supervisors who are educated in management
principles are necessary components in producing healthy organizations.
Moreover, studies show that employees want supervisors who act as advisors
promoting the growth potential of the employee. Competent supervisors are ones
that provide feedback, use proper motivational tools, and allow for autonomous
work. Research has shown that supervisors who posses these traits have better
employee retention and are more likely to have employees who are satisfied in
their jobs. Supervisors also play a vital role in the reduction of work related stress
through emotional and instrumental support.
THE THEORY AND RESEARCH OF
LITERATURE SPECIFIC TO
Job dissatisfaction is defined as a set of behaviors in which dissatisfied
individuals engage to avoid their jobs. Job dissatisfaction leads to job withdrawal,
which is defined as a set of behaviors that dissatisfied employees enact to avoid
work (Noe, et al. 1996). It manifests itself in an assortment of highly disruptive
behaviors including reduced work effort, turnover, absenteeism, tardiness, poor
performance, low job involvement, depression, theft, and in some extreme cases
violence. Other behaviors include sabotage, work slowdowns, drug and alcohol
abuse, and high turnover (Laird, 1983). Moreover, studies have shown that there
is a correlation between customer satisfaction and job satisfaction making job
dissatisfaction a concern for any organization seeking positive customer relations
(Noe, et al 1996).
The Role of Personality Traits in Job Satisfaction
Recent studies have indicated that the propensity for job satisfaction may
be a quality of personality specific to each individual. Some employees are
satisfied in almost all circumstances, while others are perpetually dissatisfied
regardless of their work role. In other words, these employees will always be
dissatisfied. There are some emotionally maladjusted individuals who are more
likely to be dissatisfied in all work situations. In this case, the solution to
dissatisfaction may be to screen out employees who are unlikely to find
satisfaction in anything about their jobs (Bassett, 1994).
Watson (2000) has studied the aspects of personality traits that have been
labeled temperaments. These traits are neuroticism, known as negative affectivity,
and extraversion, known as positive affectivity. Individuals high in the former are
prone to experience a diverse array of negative mood states (e.g., anxiety,
depression, hostility, and guilt) and individuals high in the latter are prone to
describe themselves as cheerful, enthusiastic, confident, active, and energetic. The
relationships between negative and/or positive affectivity. and job satisfaction are
now commonplace in the literature (Brief and Weiss, 2002) and the role of
individual personality is becoming a prominent feature in the study of job
Employees Response to Job Dissatisfaction
While some job satisfaction can be explained in terms of employee
attitudes, it is important to note that individuals with high levels of either positive
or negative affectivity cannot be generalized to all employees and it would be
disingenuous to assume that job satisfaction resides solely within the employee.
The bulk of job dissatisfaction flows inexorably from the circumstance of the
The following review explicates and identifies literature that describes
employee responses to job dissatisfaction and expands upon Noe et als (1996)
classification of behaviors attributable to job dissatisfaction. These are behavior
changes, physical withdrawal and psychological withdrawal. Furthermore, health
problems and work related stress, the physical manifestations of job
dissatisfaction, are reviewed and adumbrated.
At the onset of job dissatisfaction, the first response employees may
undertake is an attempt to try to change what is causing the dissatisfaction. In
some instances where dissatisfaction is derived from a lack of skill, supplemental
training may help solve the problem. In other cases the employee can resolve the
problem by negotiating with the employer to work out an arrangement to alleviate
or stop the dissatisfaction from occurring. However, this may result in a
confrontation and conflict between the employer and the subordinate, and as Noe
et al (1996) points out, may potentially worsen the situation.
In some cases the employee will choose not to take action and quit while
others may choose to remain and continue to suffer because their socio-economic
situation does not provide them an opportunity to leave the organization (Noe, et
Physical Job Withdrawal
If an employee is unable to change the conditions that are creating the job
dissatisfaction, they may be able to solve their problem of dissatisfaction by
transferring to another area. Transfers are effective when the source of the
dissatisfaction is job specific such as an undesirable working condition, or the
direct result of a particular supervisor. Nevertheless, if the source of the
dissatisfaction is the organization itself, the employee may decide to quit their job
and work elsewhere (Noe et al. 1996).
Organizational turnover is disruptive and costly. Each employee who
leaves will require the selection and training of a replacement employee. The end
result is a loss of time and money; resources that may have been saved if
management made an attempt to ensure greater job satisfaction for the employee.
If job dissatisfaction is pervasive throughout the organization, a regretful situation
known as dysfunctional turnover can occur. Dysfunctional turnover is a situation
wherein the best employees leave while the worst remain with the organization,
resulting in a staff of poor performers (Noe et al, 1996).
Absenteeism. If the employee cannot completely leave the organization
by quitting, they may attempt to physically remove themselves by being absent.
Employees who are most dissatisfied with their jobs exhibit a higher frequency of
absence. The most frequently offered explanation for this correlation is the
likelihood that people seek to escape, even if only temporarily, from unpleasant
work circumstances (Bassett, 1994). Moreover, absenteeism is costly for
organizations because the work process may be slowed or stopped. In many
situations the absent employee may necessitate the need for a replacement
employee to fill the vacant position (Noe et al, 1996).
In organizations with poor morale, absenteeism can be very high,
especially on Mondays and Fridays, workdays before and after a holiday, and the
day after payday. Astute managers that notice this kind of trend should investigate
the causes of these absences (Kossen, 1994).
Tardiness. Physical withdrawal is not confined to turnover and
absenteeism; a dissatisfied employee may not miss the entire day, but be
chronically tardy. While not as costly as turnover and absenteeism, tardiness can
be particularly disruptive, especially when other employees depend on the tardy
individual to work effectively at their jobs (Noe et al, 1996). Vallen (1993)
reported that almost 30% of absenteeism and turnover were related to job
dissatisfaction, including such factors as the work environment, personal issues,
and the work itself.
Employees who dread their work are rarely eager to arrive to work on
time. Conversely, the employees who derive satisfaction from their work, or feel
that there is a benefit from arriving at work, early will do so (Kossen, 1994).
Turnover. All organizations experience turnover. However, abnormally
high turnover can be an indicator of low employee morale. Barak, Nissly, and
Levin (2001) found that burnout, job dissatisfaction, availability of employment
alternatives, low organizational and professional commitment, stress, and lack of
social support are the strongest predictors of turnover or the intention to leave.
Furthermore, they discovered that the major predictors of leaving were not
personal or related to the balance between work and family, but are organizational
An employee, who cannot solve their dissatisfaction through training or
negotiation, or through physical withdrawal stratagems, will resort to using
cognitive distortion tactics such as denial, repression, and projection (Cooper,
1998). In cases of denial, the employee will refuse to acknowledge that they are
in the throes of deeply dissatisfying work, asserting that all work contains
instances of unpleasantness, and that their work is no different. In extreme cases
the employee will simply refuse to acknowledge the presence of dissatisfaction.
Some employees are fully aware of their job dissatisfaction but internalize their
discontent. If the employee refuses to vent their dissatisfaction and suppresses
their displeasure, stress can potentially build until the employee suffers a break
down (Cooper, 1998).
Projection. Yet, another common reaction to job dissatisfaction is to
project their dissatisfaction by blaming others for their displeasure, or allowing
their feelings of displeasure to overwhelm them, taking their frustrations out on
other people. A phenomenon known as spill over can take place in situations such
as these (Cooper, 1998).
Spill-over. Spill-over is the transfer of emotions from the work
environment to the ones private life. The story of the hapless dog who is the
unwitting target of their owners misplaced anger is well known, and by way of
analogy, a good instantiation of spill-over. It is not difficult to infer that most
employees with poor attitudes at work are not jovial in their private lives.
However, conceptually, spill-over can either be a negative or a positive
occurrence. Consider: many employees who are satisfied and experience joy in
their work will experience similar feelings in other aspects of their lives (Cooper,
Disengagement. A cognitive escape known as disengagement is often
used when dissatisfied employees cannot physically remove themselves. In these
cases employees will psychologically remove themselves from work by
disengaging from their job or displaying low levels of job involvement (the
degree to which an employee identifies with their job). Uninvolved workers do
not identify themselves with their jobs, nor do they see their jobs as an important
facet of their lives. These employees pose a particularly difficult problem for
management in terms of motivation and creating job satisfaction because
performing well or poorly does not affect their self-conception (Noe et al, 1996).
Compensation. Closely linked, or similar to spill-over, compensation is
the effort to offset dissatisfaction in one domain by seeking involvement in
another domain. It is achieved by decreasing involvement in the undesired domain
and increasing involvement in a potentially more satisfying domain (Cooper,
1998). For example, employees that experience job dissatisfaction may immerse
themselves in a hobby to help them forget about their jobs when they are away
from work. Conversely, while at work they will disengage from their jobs by day
dreaming about the hobby (Cooper, 1998).
Low Level of Organizational Commitment. According to Noe et al (1996)
another form of disengagement is a low level of organizational commitment.
Organizational commitment, the degree of effort that an employee is willing to
put forth on the behalf of the organization, is compromised by job dissatisfaction.
Employees with low or little commitment usually stay at their jobs while actively
seeking opportunities or chances to secure employment elsewhere.
Sabotage and Employee Theft. In extreme situations, employees will
commit acts of sabotage against the organization and can be linked to product
defects (Kossen, 1994). Furthermore, Hollinger and Clark (1983) found that
employee theft is linked to employee dissatisfaction.
The Effect of Job Dissatisfaction on Employee Morale
In the book The Human Side of Organizations. Kossen (1994) asserts that
there is a relationship between high productivity and high morale and that under
conditions of poor morale, favorable output is difficult to sustain. In these
conditions profits is usually adversely affected when productivity dwindles.
However, high morale doesnt guarantee high productivity, as Kossen points out;
high morale could be the result of social relationships developed on the job. In
these instances the employees are more concerned with socializing than working.
Morale is rarely noticed by managers until it becomes poor or when
something has gone wrong within the organization. Often, they do not understand
how badly morale has deteriorated until they are faced with a serious disaster that
can result in deep organizational scars (Kossen, 1994).
Kossen asserted that an insightful manager could recognize the signs of
poor morale. The warning signs of poor morale are similar to those of job
satisfaction and include an abundance of absenteeism, tardiness, high turnover,
sabotage, and lack of pride in ones work. (Kossen, 1994).
Toxic Work Environments
Organizations that have poor employee morale often have what Eileen
Hannagen (1995) describes as a toxic work environment. In a toxic work
environment, invalidation of an employee's self image, contributions, and
opinions are prevalent. The organization will generally withhold feedback by
refusing to acknowledge employee achievements. At the same time, the
organization will pressure employees to conform to company standards so that
they will assume the identity of the dysfunctional culture. Furthermore, views
outside of this dysfunctional culture are considered as wrong and employees that
hold alternate views are perceived as troublemakers by management (Hannagen,
Health Problems Created by Job Dissatisfaction
Individuals who cannot change their source of dissatisfaction, somehow
disengage themselves from the situation, or leave the organization, can be
negatively affected by job stress. Stress is the unpleasant emotional state one
experiences resulting from a perceived threat to ones values. The experience
includes negative emotions and the impairment of cognitive functioning (Newell,
If stress is not dealt with, it can potentially lead to serious health problems.
In Stress in the American Workplace. Donald DeCarlo and Deborah Gruenfeld
(1989) stated that stress is a catalyst, if not a major cause of physical ailments and
diseases and is implicated in three of the top ten leading causes of death strokes,
cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Substantiating DeCarlo and Gruenfelds
studies, a recent study by Heslop, Smith, Metcalfe, Macleod, and Hart (2002)
have acknowledged that there have been an abundance of studies that have
suggested that occupational stress may be related to the development of
cardiovascular disease and studies have shown that job dissatisfaction can lead to
elevations in blood pressure (Levenstein, Smith, and Kaplan, 2001).
Noe, et al. (1996) has identified research demonstrating a strong link
between stress and mental disorders and has also identified stress as a precursor to
physical health problems such as coronary heart disease, hypertension and ulcers.
The results are costs associated with increased health insurance and time lost at
work due to poor health. A rapid rise in lawsuits related to stress is also proving to
be costly to organizations that have employees suffering from stress (Cooper,
Substance Abuse. Dissatisfied employees who suffer from continual
tension attempt to escape, or relieve the stress caused by work by self-medicating
with alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, sugar, illegal drugs and sleeping pills. The usage
will then produce more strain on an individuals already taxed body (Potter,
1980). Good health, high energy and enthusiasm, all necessary components for
peak performance, are drained by burnout. Therefore it is only a matter of time
before quality of work is sacrificed (Potter, 1980). Finally, dealing with negative
emotions at work can lead to depression, which in itself is a problem. The
depression will then exacerbate problems at work thus creating a vicious cycle
Violence. Stress can make the work place dangerous for employees. In
Violence at work: Causes Patterns and Prevention. Giles Arway (2002) stated that
stress might instigate or trigger aggressive and violent behavior in some
The Relationship Between Job Dissatisfaction. Stress,
and Job Burnout
According to Potter (1980), healthy frustration, that is, frustration in small
doses functions as a challenge and can spur individuals on, but when frustration
proves to be unsolvable and continual, the sense of frustration develops into
feelings of acute stress.
Lowe and Northcott (1995) identified stress as the result of
psychologically demanding work and job designs that do not adequately allow
workers the sufficient opportunity to make decisions or to use their skills in
responding to job demands. Employees who continue to work under stressful
conditions will eventually succumb to job burnout (Potter, 1980).
Job burnout is a prolonged response to chronic stressors at work (Cooper, 1998).
It is a cumulative process beginning with small warning signals that, when
unheeded, can progress into a profound and lasting dread of going to work.
Symptomatically, burnout can be bifurcated into primary and secondary
symptoms. Primary symptoms are developed in response to specific factors on the
job. Secondary symptoms arise in the process of coping with primary symptoms
The toxic work environments previously discussed are breeding grounds
for burnout. In the toxic organization employees rarely exercise creativity because
the attention required for creativity is redirected to surviving the work place. In
time this state of affairs leads to stress, burnout and health problems (Hannagen,
The primary culprit of job burnout is lack of control in ones work
environment. Lack of control occurs when employees have little control over the
work they do. The causes may be rigid policies, tight monitoring, or a chaotic
work environment. In instances such as these, employees are incapable of being
able to problem solve, make choices, or have input into the achievements or the
outcomes of which they are responsible or held accountable (Cooper, 1998).
Symptoms of Job Burnout
Classic symptoms of job burnout are exhaustion, depersonalization, cynicism, and
detachment from the job (Cooper, 1998). The employee may also experience a
sense of failure or feel ineffective at their job, greatly reducing the employees
feelings of personal accomplishment. The reduction in personal accomplishment
is experienced as a decline in feelings of productivity and competence at work
and is linked to depression and inability to cope with work demands. The
experience will prompt some to quit, but the employees that continue to work will
usually perform at the bare minimum rather than performing at their best (Cooper,
1998). A work situation with chronic, overwhelming demands that contribute to
cynicism is likely to erode the employees sense of accomplishment which is
difficult to obtain when feeling exhausted or when helping people toward whom
one is indifferent (Maslach et al, 2001).
Emotional Exhaustion. When employees describe themselves or others as
experiencing burnout, they are most often referring to the experience of
exhaustion. Exhaustion is the most obvious manifestation and the fundamental
quality of burnout (Maslach, Schaufeli, and Leiter, 2001). Emotional exhaustion
refers to feelings of being emotionally overextended and depleted of emotional
resources. The primary sources of exhaustion are personal conflict at work and
work overload. Employees suffering from emotional exhaustion feel drained, lack
enthusiasm, and are incapable of replenishing themselves. In extreme cases they
lack the energy to face another workday (Cooper, 1998). As Maslach et al. (2001)
pointed out in their research, exhaustion is not something that is simply
experienced, rather, it induces employees to distance themselves emotionally and
cognitively from their work, presumably as a way to cope with the work overload.
Interpersonal Problems. Interpersonal problems such as irritability are
also symptomatic of burnout. Potter (1980) corroborates Coopers assertion that
spill-over is an attitudinal response to job dissatisfaction with the former stating
that these interpersonal problems can arise in private life, and often times appear
Depersonalization. It is not uncommon for those suffering from burnout
to lose concern for the people they are assisting and become cynical and negative
towards service recipients (Potter, 1980). One such problem is known as
depersonalization. Depersonalization, which stems from burnout, is an
excessively detached, cynical, or negative response to other people. Initially it
acts as a protective buffer to detach from concern and is primarily developed as a
response to an overload of emotional exhaustion (Potter, 1980).
One of the most damaging aspects of depersonalization is that it can lead
to dehumanization. In cases of dehumanization, the employee fails to see
people as humans. Instead they exist as problems to be combated (Cooper, 1998).
Employees who dehumanize treat clients as objects and may become hostile.
Others will grow to be aloof and intellectual referring to customers as abstract
cases in a text book (Cooper, 1998). In the dimension of customer service, the
emotional demands of the work can deplete a service provider's capacity to be
involved with, and be responsive to the needs of service recipients. Employees
suffering from burnout will attempt to distance between themselves and service
recipients by actively ignoring the qualities that make them engaging and unique
people (Maslach et al, 2001).
Strategies of emotional withdrawal such as these, while being coping
mechanisms, will actually accelerate the burnout process. When work becomes
exceedingly negative, nearly an entire emotional shut down will eventually take
place (Potter, 1980). Its noteworthy that emotional withdrawal is most commonly
found in professionals in the service industry (Potter, 1980).
Strong evidence has shown that job dissatisfaction can generate numerous
disruptive and problematic behaviors that are detrimental to any organization.
Reactions from job dissatisfaction will usually contain one or more of the
following indications: changes in behavior, physical job withdrawal, and
psychological withdrawal. In severe cases of job dissatisfaction, health problems
can arise including stress, mental disorders, heart disease, hypertension, and
ulcers. Dissatisfied employees also have a tendency to adopt unhealthy lifestyles
using alcohol, tobacco, sleeping pills, and both legal and illegal drugs thereby
exacerbating any pre-existing health problems incurred by job dissatisfaction.
Job dissatisfaction has also been linked to job burnout. Job burnout is
experienced as feelings of exhaustion, failure, and incompetence.
Symptomatically, burned out employees exhibit behaviors described as detached
and cynical, and their relationships with co-workers may evidence
depersonalization and dehumanization characteristics.
The field of parks and recreation is ultimately a service-oriented
profession. When considering the malevolent outcomes that can transpire in these
unfortunate states of affairs, recreation management needs to take preventative
measures to avoid situations that may arise from job burnout.
Figure 3.1 Responses to Job Dissatisfaction
SUMMARY OF WHAT IS KNOWN AND
UNKNOWN ABOUT JOB SATISFACTION
AND JOB DISSATISFACTION
Upon the completion of the literature review, several strong claims can be
made about parks and recreation, job satisfaction, job dissatisfaction, and the role
of supervisor in attaining satisfying work.
First, management that clings to the traditional ideologies and motivation
methods based on a system of purely extrinsic rewards will not achieve the same
kind of success with regard to job satisfaction and motivation as one rooted in a
system comprised of intrinsic rewards. Furthermore, there has been no research
that has made the causal connection between job satisfaction and performance
indicating that job satisfaction does not equate Or guarantee improved work
performance. So why go to great pains to ensure job satisfaction?
The answer is that job dissatisfaction is a very reliable antecedent to
disruptive and costly negative behavior. Analogous to the doctor who treats their
patients with immunizations to prevent the onset of disease, management uses job
satisfaction as preventative measure to stop the occurrence of job dissatisfaction.
If management has the capability to supply employees with satisfying work, and
doing so does not create hardship for the organization, then as argued in the
introduction of this thesis, providing satisfying work is not only ethically
praiseworthy, but obligatory.
Secondly, attaining job satisfaction can be achieved by offering
autonomous, challenging work that creates a sense of accomplishment. The
employee should receive adequate feedback and appropriate training for the job.
When possible, the employee should be allowed to see the projects they work on
from start to finish and work in a safe, comfortable environment.
Third, research indicates that job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction can be
traced to individual attitudes. However, if an organization does not take care to
provide satisfying work, dissatisfaction may occur. An unhappy employee is
likely to engage in a wide variety of undesirable behaviors including physical and
psychological withdrawal, sabotage, theft, and violence. In cases of extreme
dissatisfaction, stress, health problems and burnout can transpire.
Fourth, the literature also suggests that managements role goes beyond
supplying requisite work conditions, as well as intrinsic rewards, and extrinsic
rewards. Supervisors need to be competent team leaders who guide, advise, and
provide opportunities for personal growth and intervene when the employee is
experiencing work-related stress.
Finally, the review of literature has revealed that parks and recreation is a
large industry that is growing at a tremendous rate. That being said, scholars and
parks and recreation management seem to have neglected to study the levels of
job satisfaction within this large and diverse occupational group and, as of yet,
have not concretely identified reliable determinants of job satisfaction in parks
The research tool utilized in this study was an adapted version of Job
Diagnostic Survey (JDS) by Hackman and Oldham and is based on Maslows
need fulfillment theory. The survey includes the variables of skill variety,
autonomy, task identity, significance of work, and feedback. In this adapted
version of the survey, five supplementary questions were added to ascertain if the
respondents were exhibiting symptoms of job dissatisfaction. All of these
variables were ranked using an ordinal scale. The adapted version also contained
the addition of an open-ended question inquiring if there were elements not listed
in the survey that contributed to either their experiences of job satisfaction, or job
Before data collection began, the survey was pre-tested by distributing the
survey to ten parks and recreation employees. After completing the survey the
employees were interviewed to determine if the survey contained anything
perceived to be ambiguous, confusing, biased or misleading. Participants were
also asked if the survey was logically ordered, easy to read, and was not overly
time consuming or repetitious. The survey was then redrafted based on the
findings of the pretest.
The sample was obtained by using a membership mailing list of twelve
hundred parks and recreation employees that was graciously provided by the
Colorado Parks and Recreation Association (CPRA). From the list of twelve
hundred members, a 25 percent random sample was drawn. Of those 300
members to whom the mail survey was sent, 149 replied to the survey yielding a
response rate of 49.7%.
To increase survey response, each survey included a self-addressed,
stamped, return envelope, one hundred of which included a lottery scratch ticket
(initially all surveys were supposed to have a scratch ticket, but limited funds
precluded me from doing so). Judging from the favorable response written in the
surveys, the scratch ticket proved very effective for obtaining survey responses.
Treatment of the Data
Data from the surveys was entered into an Excel program and subjected to
three statistical analyses. Before running the statistics on the data, the variable of
overall job satisfaction was reviewed to answer the first hypothesis: whether or
not employees in parks and recreation were satisfied with their jobs. Then, the
dependent variables were correlated with the dependent variable: level of job
satisfaction. The function of the correlations was to derive the top determinants of
job satisfaction in parks and recreation. Then, after the correlation was
administered, the fifteen highest correlates to job satisfaction were selected. These
fifteen variables were then run in a statistical regression. The function of the
regression was to summarize interval variables, infer population characteristics
based on the sample,, and to determine causal links to forecast outcomes of jobs
that contained certain determinants, (or lack thereof) of job satisfaction.
The data from the open response segment of the survey was then listed
separately into two categories: elements perceived to enhance job satisfaction, and
elements that were perceived to induce job dissatisfaction. The data from this set
was then compared and contrasted and ranked. The remaining qualitative data
were then observed and recorded.
Limitations of the Study
The limitations of this study are as follows: First, the sample population is
limited to the members of CPRA. Consequently, the vast majority of the
individuals that responded to the survey are residents of Colorado. Furthermore,
demographically, the membership consists primarily of administrative positions,
which precluded responses from middle management, and entry-level positions.
Finally, limiting the subjects of the sample to CPRA members may have
created a self-selection bias. That is, there may have been a threat to external
validity because recreation workers not represented in the survey did not get an
opportunity to participate in the study. Therefore, the resulting findings are not
representative beyond CPRA.
The data obtained from the survey were used to test the hypotheses
introduced in chapter 1. The following are the results of the tested hypotheses:
Hypothesis I: As an Occupational Group,
Parks and Recreation Employees are
Highly Satisfied in Their Jobs
When asked if they agreed with the statement that they were satisfied with
their jobs, 13.4% said that they agreed slightly, 50.3% said that they agreed with
the statement, and 28.2% stated that they strongly agreed. All together, 91.9% of
the respondents are satisfied in their jobs.
Less than 1% of the respondents answered that they strongly disagreed
with the statement, and only 2.6% responded that they disagreed or slightly
disagreed with the statement. Roughly 3% were ambivalent regarding the
question and answered that they felt neutral on the matter.
Hypothesis II: Employees in Parks and Recreation
Generally Believe Management is Responsible
for Ensuring That Their Jobs are as
Satisfying as Reasonably Possible
When asked if they agreed with the statement My supervisor is
responsible for creating as much satisfaction in my work as reasonably possible,
12.1% replied that they agreed slightly, 20.1% agreed, while 10.7% agreed
strongly with the statement resulting in 42.9% that agreed in varying degrees with
the statement. 16.1% disagreed strongly with the statement, 16.8% disagreed with
the statement, and 6.0% disagreed slightly. This resulted in 33.6% that believed
that management is not responsible for providing job satisfaction. 15.4% of the
respondents answered that they felt neutral toward the topic.
Hypothesis III: There is a Correlation Between
Reported Job Satisfaction and Employees
Perception of Managements Ability to
Create a Satisfying Work Environment
The correlation between job satisfaction and managements ability to
obtain job satisfaction was negligible (3.1450E-05). There is a possibility that the
results of this hypothesis could have been skewed due to a self-selection bias in
the survey. The sample consisted of primarily of park and recreation
administrators whose view on managements responsibility with regards to job
satisfaction may be different than those in entry level positions. A further
explanation of self-selection bias can be found in chapter 5.
Hypothesis IV: There are Certain Identifiable
Variables that Create or Enhance Overall
Job Satisfaction in Parks and Recreation
The top ten determinants of job satisfaction ranked from first to last are
accomplishment, growth, excitement, recognition, autonomy, being liked by co-
workers, support and guidance from the supervisor, job security and being relied
upon by others.
When compared and contrasted with the jobs studied in the research of
literature, one can plainly see that there are job determinants in other professions
that hold true for employees in parks and recreation, namely accomplishment,
verbal recognition, challenging work, and autonomy. As in the other studies,
absent, or ranked low on the list of determinants were extrinsic rewards such as
However, there are some existing determinants typically sought after in
other occupations that hold little value for employees of parks and recreation.
These are training, whole work, and the physical environment.
Likewise, there are determinants found in this study that appear to be more
appreciated by the parks and recreation employees. They have a strong desire for
excitement in their jobs, being liked by their co-workers, personal growth, and
rank job security higher than the studies reviewed prior to this one.
Figure 6.1 Comparison of Determinants of Job Satisfaction Between Parks and Recreation Employees & Employees From Previous Studies.
Determinants and Jobs from Parks and
Quantitative Results (Ranked in Order) Previous Studies Recreation
Personal Growth 0.325151468
Challenge 0.210747119 V
Verbal Recognition 0.209956722
Autonomy 0.158781177 s S
Being Liked 0.168873191 S
Support & Guidance of Supervisor 0.205724254 V
Job Security 0.180554119 V
Being Relied Upon 0.153891663 V
Physical Environment Not Ranked in top 20 V
Whole Work Not Ranked in top 20 V
Training Not Ranked in top 20
The differences between parks and recreation employees and the
employees from erstwhile studies demonstrates my earlier supposition that parks
and recreation employees are not only a unique group of workers, but the
determinants and satisfiers that influence and motivate them cannot be derived
from other studies and expected to be efficacious in achieving desirable employee
How Professionals in Parks and Recreation Describe
When asked to describe their jobs, parks and recreation professionals provided the
Complex or High Level Skills. The majority of respondents felt that they
use a number of complex and high-level skills. When asked if they agreed with
the statement that their job requires them to use complex and high level skills,
22.8% said the statement was slightly accurate, 44.3% said that the statement was
mostly accurate, 18.8% said that the statement was very accurate. 2.7% found the
statement slightly inaccurate and less than 10% found the statement mostly, or
Cooperative Work. Typically, jobs in parks and recreation involve a
tremendous amount of work with other people and agencies requiring a great deal
of cooperation. When asked if they agreed with the statement that their job
required cooperation with others, 65,8% said it was very accurate. 28.9% said it
was mostly accurate, and 4.7% said it was slightly accurate. Less than 1% said it
was slightly inaccurate. There were no responses that said the statement was
mostly inaccurate or very inaccurate.
Whole Work. Most workers in parks and recreation do not complete a
project from start to finish. When asked if they agreed with the statement that
their jobs allowed them to complete a whole piece of work, 38.3% said the
statement was mostly inaccurate. 26.8% said the statement was very inaccurate.
12.8% said that they slightly agreed, while 8.7% said they agreed. Only 2.7% felt
that they completed a whole piece of work from start to finish.
Stimulating and Interesting Work. The majority of workers in parks and
recreation feel that they have interesting and stimulating jobs. When asked if they
agreed with the statement that their jobs were simple and repetitive, 34.9% said
that the statement was very inaccurate, another 34.9% found the statement mostly
inaccurate. 14.1% said the statement was slightly inaccurate. 10.1% said that the
statement was slightly accurate. 3.4% of the respondents found the statement
mostly accurate, while only 1.3% said the statement was very accurate.
Accomplishment. Parks and recreation employees thrive on a sense of
accomplishment in their work. When asked how important the feeling of
accomplishment is to them, a prodigious number of them, 98% listed it as
something they highly desire in their jobs. The remaining rated accomplishment
as moderately desirable.
Feedback. Employees in the field of parks and recreation workers feel
that management is doing an adequate job of supplying feedback. When asked if
they agreed with the statement that their supervisor often lets me know how well
they think Im performing my job, 31.5% said the statement was mostly
accurate. 23.5% said the statement was slightly accurate while 12.8% found the
statement very accurate. 12.1% replied that it was slightly inaccurate, and 16.8%
found the statement very inaccurate. A small percentage of 1.3% feel they dont
get enough feedback saying the statement was very inaccurate.
What Parks and Recreation Employees Want
in Their Jobs
The following segment reveals what parks and recreation employees want
in their jobs, ensued by data that suggests whether or not these desires are being
met in their work. It is important to understand that while some of these elements
are ranked as highly desirable, in some instances they were not correlated to job
satisfaction in the field and thus should not be construed as a determinant of job
Challenging Work. Employees in parks and recreation have a strong
desire for challenging work. When asked how much they would like to have
challenging work, 37.6% said that they have an extreme desire for challenging
work, 28.9% have a strong desire for challenging work and 18.1% have a
moderate desire to have challenging work. Overall 84.6% stated that they would
like to see challenging work as a component in their jobs.
When asked if the challenge they found in their jobs met this demand,
47.0% said they were satisfied with the amount of challenge found in their job.
23.5% were extremely satisfied, 15.4% were slightly challenged, and 5.4% felt
slightly dissatisfied. 4.7% felt neutral when asked if they were adequately
challenged. 3.4% were dissatisfied with the amount of challenge. None of the
respondents replied that they were extremely dissatisfied with the amount of
challenge found in their jobs.
Autonomy and Individual Thoughts/Actions. The survey respondents
have an intense desire to work and make decisions autonomously. 38.9% said that
they have an extreme desire for autonomy, while another 59.1% said they would
like to have autonomous work very much.
54.4% were satisfied with the autonomy they had in their work, and 29.5%
were extremely satisfied. 8.7% were slightly satisfied with 1.3% answering that
they had no feelings either way. 2.0% said they were slightly dissatisfied, with
another 2.0% dissatisfied. A small percentage (1.3%) answered that they were
Job Security. A large number of respondents ranked job security as a
highly desirable element in their jobs. 50.3% ranked it as extremely important,
36.3% replied that it was very important, while 11.5% listed it as an important
and desirable element in their jobs. When describing job security, 58.4% rated it
as satisfying. 17.4% were extremely satisfied and 14.1% were slightly satisfied.
5.4% had neutral feelings regarding job security, while slightly dissatisfied,
dissatisfied, and extremely dissatisfied all ranked at 1.3% each.
Co-workers. Having friendly co-workers is important to parks and
recreation workers. 68.5% of the respondents listed having friendly co-workers as
extremely important, another 13.4% ranked friendly co-workers as important.
Parks and recreation employees described their relations with co-workers
as follows: 55.7% are satisfied with their co-workers. 27.5% of the respondents
were extremely satisfied, 9.4% were slightly satisfied. 3.4% of the respondents
felt ambivalent about their co-workers, while 4.0% are slightly dissatisfied. 3.4%
are dissatisfied, and less than 1% is extremely dissatisfied.
Opportunities to Learn New Skills. The majority of respondents want
work that will allow them to learn new skills. Over 91.9% rated learning new
things from work as very important to extremely important.
Respondents stated that 46.3% are satisfied with their growth potential.
28.9% are slightly satisfied, while 12.8% are extremely satisfied with their ability
or opportunity to actualize their growth potential. 3.4% felt neutral in the matter,
3.4% were slightly dissatisfied, while a small percentage, less than 1% was
Salary and Fringe Benefits. 83.9% stated that salary and fringe benefits
are extremely important. Another 10.1% listed it as very important. Just over half,
53.0% of the respondents felt that this need was being met and were satisfied.
19.5% were slightly satisfied. 8.7% were extremely satisfied, while 6.7% were
dissatisfied. 4.7% held neutral feelings concerning salary and fringe benefits
while 6.7% are slightly dissatisfied, and 4.0% are extremely dissatisfied.
Creativity and Imaginative Work. 87.3% have a strong desire for creative
and imaginative work. 10.1% ranked imaginative and creative work as very
desirable. When describing their work, 38.9% felt that their work was extremely
creative and imaginative. 32.3% described it as moderately creative and
imaginative. 14.1% felt that their work lacked creativity and imagination.
Personal Growth. Over half of the respondents thought that personal
growth was extremely important (61.2%). Another 8.7% listed it as very
important. 46.3% of the respondents were satisfied with the amount of personal
growth. 28.9% are slightly satisfied, 12.8% are extremely satisfied, and 3.4%
have neutral feelings concerning availability of growth in their jobs. 4.0% are
slightly dissatisfied, 3.4% are dissatisfied, and a small percentage 0.7% is
Accomplishment. A need for a sense of accomplishment is ranked very
high for the respondents. 81.2% stated that feeling worthwhile accomplishment at
work was extremely important. 16.8% stated that it was very important to them.
The work in parks and recreation seems to meet this high need. Over half,
58.4%, of the respondents were satisfied with the feelings of accomplishment they
derive from their jobs. Another 22.8% described it as extremely satisfying. 11.4%
felt slightly satisfied, and the remaining categories, neutral, slightly dissatisfied
and extremely dissatisfied, received averages of less than 1%
Comparisons to other Occupations/Fields
When parks and recreation employees were asked how their jobs compared to
other professionals in terms of job satisfaction, 90.6% felt they had more job
satisfaction than other professionals, 73.2% felt that they had better job
satisfaction than those in the same field working for the private sector. 78.5% felt
that they had better job satisfaction than federal workers, and 79.2% felt they had
better job satisfaction than employees working for the state.
While parks and recreation employees have high levels of job satisfaction, many
of the respondents stated that they were experiencing high levels of stress. When
asked if they agreed with the statement that stress has negatively impacted their
health. 28.9% of the respondents agreed. Of those 28.9%, 4.7% replied that they
strongly agreed with the statement indicating that the stress they were
experiencing was acute.
Despite the levels of stress reported by the respondents, there seems to be
very little negative impact on job outcomes and performance.
Sick Days. When asked if they were suffering from symptoms of job
burnout, only 6.0% used sick days to get out of work.
Disengagement. When asked if they agreed with the statement that they
sometimes disengaged from work, 47.7% said they disagreed with the statement.
26.8% strongly disagreed with the statement while 8.1% slightly disagreed. 7.4%
of the respondents slightly agreed to disengaging from work, 5.4% agreed that
they would often disengage from work and a small percentage of 2.7% strongly
agree that they often disengage from work.
Violence. Fortunately, there are few indicators that these individuals
would resort to violence. When asked if they agreed with the statement
dissatisfaction created violent thoughts or tendencies, 83.2 % strongly disagreed
and 10.1% disagreed. 2.0% agreed slightly to the statement. Happily less than 1%
strongly agreed that they were experiencing violent tendencies or thoughts (unless
of course you have the misfortune of working with this small group of disaffected
Theft. 88.6% strongly disagreed with the statement that they stole from
their organization. 7.4% disagreed, and a total of 1.4% said they slightly agreed,
or agreed to the statement that they stole from their organizations.
Turnover. When asked if they agreed with the statement that they
frequently thought of quitting their jobs, 34.2% slightly disagreed, 26.2%
disagreed, and 10.1% felt neutral on the matter. 8.1% slightly agreed while 7.4%
agreed. 2.0% strongly agreed that they frequently thought of quitting their jobs.
Responses to the Open-Ended Questions
As mentioned earlier in the thesis, the survey used had an open-ended
question at the end of the questionnaire. The question provided opportunities for
the respondents to list both positive and negative elements that affected their level
of job satisfaction, as well as allow them to expand upon the themes discussed
within the survey. The results of the open-ended question did not provide much in
the way of substantive, empirical data because the majority of the respondents did
not respond to the open-ended question. However, the responses could prove to be
illuminating in assisting future studies to identify determinants of job satisfaction
The following is a compilation of what the respondents had to say on the
topic of job satisfaction in parks and recreation.
Determinants That Increased or Sustained Levels
of Job Satisfaction
Existing determinants that park and recreation employees derive satisfaction from
are as follows:
Working in a Recreational Environment. Four of the respondents lauded
that working in a recreational environment was very satisfying. This stands to
reason. Many parks and recreation employees come from a recreational
background and working in the leisure industry is a natural extension of their
Community Involvement and Working with Others. Respondents listed
contact with program participants and people in the community as very gratifying
stating that it made them feel more of a part of the community. Overall, eleven
people stated that working with the community was a satisfying element in their
jobs. Contact with co-workers, volunteers, and part-time staff was also listed as
rewarding and was mentioned eight times in the open-ended section.
Autonomous Work. Reinforcing the data findings on autonomy, four
respondents reiterated that flexibility in creating their work schedules and being
able to make independent decisions as highly satisfying.
Overall Job Satisfaction. Twenty-one respondents stated that, that they
have the best jobs in the world; leading one to concede that perhaps the
conference speakers insight into job satisfaction in parks and recreation was an
Elements That Decreased Job Satisfaction
Job elements in parks and recreation that respondents disliked, or wanted
improved are as follows:
The Employees Supervisor. The greatest number of comments
concerning job dissatisfaction was directed toward supervisors. Eighteen
respondents mentioned that they were unhappy in some way with their supervisor.
Four of these respondents felt that their supervisors lacked leadership skills and
promoted individuals based on favoritism rather than conducting merit-based
promotions. Lack of time management and an inability to meet deadlines was also
cited five times. Two respondents felt that their supervisor was controlling and
three described their supervisor as unsupportive. One respondent felt distressed
because they were not allowed to supervise their own staff. Three respondents
labeled their supervisors as bad but did not expand upon their assertion.
Salary and Benefits. Ten respondents felt that they were underpaid as
professionals, and that pay in parks and recreation should be commensurate with
degree holding professionals in other fields. Four voiced concerns that the benefit
packages they received were not adequate for their needs. While this was
mentioned in the in the open-ended segment of the survey, these comments did
not correspond with the findings in the study.
The Political Environment of the Occupation. Three respondents
mentioned politics in parks and recreation as a dissatisfying element in their jobs.
Some felt that the field should be treated more as a business than a political
enterprise. Literature supports the negative impact politics can have on job
satisfaction asserting that employees perceive high levels of organizational
politics in their agency are likely to be dissatisfied with their jobs (Valle and Witt,
Constraints to Work. Several respondents voiced displeasure in elements
that precluded them from adequately performing their jobs. Nine cited inadequate
budgets as the culprit, three identified a lack of training as a problem, and four
complained that understaffing prevented them from either successfully running
current programs or from implementing new programs.
Irregular Work Hours. Five respondents were dissatisfied because their
work schedule is irregular. Numerous recreation programs take place during non-
business hours, especially large programs that require weekend work. Schedules
that lack consistency, or require weekend work are Sometimes perceived as
dissatisfying to parks and recreation employees.
Unpleasant Situations. While many of the respondents enjoyed working
with the public, six disliked taking complaints and dealing with negative clients.
Four disliked enforcing unpopular rules/policies. A few respondents also cited
menial tasks as degrading or frustrating. One respondent felt degraded because
they had to pick up trash and as a degreed professional should not have to
complete this task. Cleaning restrooms are not a popular task either. Two
respondents complained that this was an unpleasant feature of their job.
Stress. Six respondents reinforced the data on stress gathered from the
survey stating that they felt that their jobs could be very stressful at times.
Lack of Growth. Lack of promotions or the ability to move up in the
organization was a concern to four of the respondents, stating that their growth
potential in their organization was difficult, overly slow, or completely non-
Lack of Public Interaction. Supporting the finding that public interaction
is desirable and satisfying to employees in parks and recreation were the three
statements by respondents who were dissatisfied because their interaction with the
public was minimal or completely absent.
Upon the completion of this study some strong, valid claims can be made
about job satisfaction in Colorado parks and recreation.
This study revealed that employees in parks and recreation are
tremendously satisfied in their jobs. The study also demonstrated that like
professions in other studies, recognition, challenge, autonomy, and
accomplishment are crucial for achieving job satisfaction. Yet unlike the other
professions, there appears to be a stronger need for employees in parks and
recreation to have excitement in their jobs, being liked by their co-workers, being
relied upon by others, achieving personal growth, having support and guidance
from their supervisor, and having good job security. Moreover, an overwhelming
number of the park and recreation employees feel strongly that their jobs are more
satisfying than work found in both the public and private sector.
Interestingly, there are determinants typically found in disparate
occupations absent from the list of desirable elements for employees in parks and
recreation. These are whole work, the physical environment, and training.
Areas that parks and recreation workers would like to see is greater salary
and improved benefits, and more of an attempt by park and recreation
management to produce work that allows employees to exercise their creativity.
Another area of concern that park and recreation management needs to be
cognizant of is the level of stress experienced by a large number of employees in
the field. Apparently the stress experienced by the respondents has had little
negative impact on their ability to function properly. Nevertheless, management
should ascertain if the employees in their organizations are suffering unduly from
stress for the sake of their employees physical and mental well-being.
Colorado parks and recreation workers are typically vibrant individuals
who thrive in their recreational environment. They enjoy working with and
serving the community. Their jobs are typically autonomous and as an occupation
they are extremely satisfied with their jobs. Because they value their quality of
life many chose this line of work. Therefore they are more likely to respond to job
determinants that correspond with this value. :
While overall job satisfaction is high in Colorado parks and recreation,
there are still areas that employees would like to see improved. Leadership skills
are viewed by many of the respondents as a problem. They would also like to see
constraints to effective work be removed by eliminating unnecessary bureaucratic
Management should be aware that one of the primary reasons employees
select work in parks and recreation is to interact with the community. Isolated
work should therefore be avoided when possible. Additionally, management
should maximize personal growth potential within their organization if they wish
to establish a happy and fulfilled staff.
Inherently unpleasant situations exist in parks and recreation that in some
instances cannot be changed. Irregular hours and disagreeable customers are
innate to parks and recreation. In these instances the selection of employees who
are not adverse to these situations is recommended.
Alternative Explanations for the Findings
As mentioned in chapter 5, one of the limitations of this study was that an
exceptional number of the respondents were administrators in the field. This may
have impacted this study in the following ways: First, administers have the
highest level of job satisfaction when compared to other workers, regardless of
the occupation. It is therefore entirely possible that the high levels of job
satisfaction witnessed in this study were impacted by the fact that the survey was
administered to the apex of parks and recreation hierarchy. Secondly, responses to
the question as to whether or not supervisors were responsible for job satisfaction
may have been construed by some as a self-indictment because the responsibility
of achieving job satisfaction in the organization would have been their own. This
could have possibly skewed the results in this study.
The importance of job security to parks and recreation employees is also
open to some conjecture. The current economic conditions have made the
importance of keeping ones job more poignant than in other times and it is a
legitimate speculation that job security is equally important in other occupations.
The studies I reviewed on job satisfaction were performed before September 11th,
2001. If these studies were updated job security would likely be high in other
occupations as well.
Implications for Professional Practice or Decision Making
The implications for professional practice and decision making is that now
parks and recreation management has a useful guide that can be used both as a
motivational tool and as a device to ensure adequate levels of job satisfaction in
current or prospective job positions. Determinants can be built into positions
during job design to make the position more successful in retaining and fulfilling
to future employees. The determinants can also be used to revamp current
positions that have been previously viewed as undesirable and make them more
Recommendations for Further Research
Upon the completion of this study, the following recommendations are
suggested to validate and expand on these research findings. By taking note of
these recommendations this study can be treated as a stepping-stone for a better
understanding and appreciation in attaining job satisfaction in parks and
Target Entry Level and Part-Time Employees
As. previously discussed, the majority of respondents in this study were
administrators. A study that sought feedback from non-administrative employees
such as entry level and part-time employees, especially the ones working heavily
as front line service providers would likely produce a wealth of information.
Study Parks and Recreation Employees in Other States
One may be able to extrapolate the findings in this study to employees in other
states, however, studies on employees in other states or if possible, a nationwide
study would contextually enhance the results gathered from this thesis.
Use Qualitative Research
The open-ended question at the end of this study offered less information than
what was hoped for. A more interactive, in depth qualitative methodology would
most likely produce rich findings that this study may have lacked.
Study Stress in Parks and Recreation
The high levels of stress in parks and recreation warrant further investigation,
especially when one considers that job satisfaction is very high in the field. Stress
and high job satisfaction should be mutually exclusive but somehow this is not the
case in parks and recreation. Furthermore, it is very perplexing that high levels of
stress were reported in this study without the accompanying negative
consequences normally associated with stress.
Use Statistics Beyond Correlations
Statistical analyses such as a regression analysis, or performing a chi-squire
would greatly enhance the findings in this study. However, the function of this
thesis was exploratory and unfortunately these types of statistical analyses were
not within the scope of this study.
Use Instrumentation Specific to Parks and Recreation
The job diagnostic survey was selected for this study because it is widely
accepted as a standardized method to determine the antecedents of job satisfaction
in various occupational fields. However, when administered to employees in
parks and recreation, the correlations it produced were relatively weak, whereas
when the survey was administered to other occupations it revealed stronger
correlates. The inference one must make is that the occupation of parks and
recreation contains determinants of job satisfaction unique unto itself. Research
conducted with instrumentation designed specifically for parks and recreation
employees would likely produce findings with greater acumen.
A. Definitions of Terms
Achievement: Success at a task, or reaching specific standards of confidence.
Affectivity: Individual dispositions. Affectivity describes individuals differences
in satisfaction with any and all aspects of life (Noe, et al. 1996).
Autonomy: The ability for a worker to make decisions and perform work
functions independently or relatively independently of the employer.
Compensation: The effort to offset dissatisfaction in one domain by seeking
involvement in another domain.
Denial: An unconscious defense mechanism used to reduce anxiety by denying
thoughts, feelings, or facts that are consciously intolerable.
Depersonalization: an excessively detached, cynical, or negative response to
other people. It is primarily developed as a response to an overload of emotional
Dysfunctional turnover: A situation wherein the best employees leave while the
worst remain with the organization, resulting in a staff of poor performers.
Emotional exhaustion: Refers to feelings of being emotionally overextended and
depleted of emotional resources.
Extrinsic rewards: Reward elements that reside externally of the job such as
pay, promotions, status and security.
Job dissatisfaction: A set of behaviors that dissatisfied individuals enact to avoid
their jobs (Noe, et al. 1996).
Job satisfaction: The degree to which an individual feels negatively or positively
about their job. It is an emotional or attitudinal response to ones physical and
social condition as well as the tasks of the workplace (schermerhom, 118).
Lockes definition of job satisfaction is defined as a pleasurable or positive
emotional state resulting from the appraisal of ones job or job experiences.
Job burnout: A prolonged response to chronic stressors at work (Cooper, 1998).
Herzbergs motivation-maintenance model: The theory that job context as the
source of job dissatisfaction and job content as the source of job satisfaction.
Job involvement: The degree to which e identifies employees identify
themselves with their job.
Intrinsic awards: Rewards that satisfy self-actualization needs or needs of higher
order growth such as challenging work, responsibility, and recognition.
Maslows hierarchy of needs: The theory that human needs can be assigned to
various levels, and that each level of need must be satisfied to some extent before
the next need can be addressed.
Morale: The atmosphere created by the employees of an organization.
Organizational commitment: The degree to which employees are willing to put
forth on their behalf.
Privacy: The freedom to work without interruption and external observation.
Projection: The tendency to ascribe to another person feelings, thoughts, or
attitudes present in oneself, or to regard external reality as embodying such
feelings, thoughts, etc., in some way.
Repression: The rejection from the consciousness of painful or disagreeable
ideas, memories, feelings, or impulses.
Social density: The number of people in an area divided by the number of square
Spill over: An emotional state caused in one dimension of an individuals life,
carried over into another dimension.
Stress: The unpleasant emotional state one experiences resulting from mental or
Verbal recognition: Feedback from supervisors and co-workers whose judgment
the worker values and respects.
Vrooms Expectancy theory: The theory that motivation is determined by
individual beliefs regarding effort and performance with regard to work
Whole work: Work wherein an employee completes their task from start to
B. Survey Cover Letter
Graduate School of Public Affairs
Campus Box 142
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, Colorado 80217-3364
Location: 1380 Lawrence Street Suite 500
Phone: (303) 556-5970
Dear Sir or Madam:
As a student of the Graduate School of Public Affairs, and a professional in recreation, I am conducting
research on job satisfaction in parks and recreation. After reviewing the literature on the subject, I became
aware that there are no appreciable studies of job satisfaction in our professional field. Determining the level
of job satisfaction in our occupational group is vital for the advancement of recreation management
techniques as well as identifying the areas that we must address, or expand upon to achieve greater job
satisfaction in parks and recreation. It is entirely conceivable that our field has high levels of job satisfaction.
However, we will never know for sure until adequate research has been conducted.
My research on this important topic cannot be achieved without your participation. Attached to this letter is a
short questionnaire that will assist in determining the level of job satisfaction in parks and recreation. Please
take a few moments to fill it out and return it in the self-addressed envelope.
All responses will be held confidential, and only I will have access to the original records. Responses will
only be disclosed in summary form. There may be a need to use direct quotes from the questionnaire, but the
author of the quote will not be identified.
If you are like me, you are a busy individual and spare time is a commodity. That is why I have included a
scratch ticket to this letter. It is my way of thanking you for taking the time to fill out this questionnaire and
send it back.
Thank you for your time and good luck with your scratch ticket. Hopefully it is a winner!
Bruce R. Lindsay