Job Satisfaction Theory: 6 Factors for Happier Employees

Job Satisfaction Theory

But why is it important to think about job satisfaction? Why is it important to try and optimize it?

For one, most people spend the bulk of their waking hours at work. So it might come as no surprise that not enjoying our jobs can translate into general dissatisfaction with life.

But beyond the individual level, organizations are thankfully starting to recognize the importance of paying attention to employee satisfaction. Moral imperatives aside, doing so has been linked to productivity and a reduction in absenteeism (Steptoe-Warren, 2013).

This article will look at job satisfaction theories, how it arises, and what this means for performance at work.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Work & Career Coaching Exercises for free . These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients identify opportunities for professional growth and create a more meaningful career.

This Article Contains:

6 theories about job satisfaction, 6 proven factors that affect job satisfaction, a note on job satisfaction and performance, increasing job satisfaction with our tools, a take-home message.

Before diving into an overview of job satisfaction theory, it first helps to consider how job satisfaction is defined.

While there are numerous definitions, the consensus is that job satisfaction is a multidimensional psychological response with three main arms: cognitive, affective, and behavioral (Weiss, 2002). We form attitudes toward our job by interpreting our feelings, beliefs, and behaviors.

Bear these domains in mind while the following six job satisfaction theories are described; ideally, a complete theory will address them all at some level.

1. Locke’s range of affect theory

With origins in organizational psychology , Edwin Locke’s (1976) range of affect theory is perhaps the most well-recognized model of job satisfaction.

Locke’s theory recognized the importance of how much people value different aspects of their job, along with how well their expectations are met. In short, our values inform our expectations, and the closer these are to reality, the more satisfied we feel.

For instance, if person A greatly values a work culture of teamwork and collaboration, while person B regards this facet neutrally, person A is more likely to feel dissatisfied if this expectation isn’t met by their job.

But Locke argued that too much of a good thing also  leads to job dissatisfaction. Taking the same example, if an emphasis on teamwork comes at the expense of time for solo work, person A (and person B) could have a negative experience of their job.

2. The dispositional approach

The next job satisfaction theory takes a different view. Outlined by Barry Staw and colleagues, the dispositional approach was formed in light of evidence that affective disposition predicts job satisfaction (Staw, Bell, & Clausen, 1986). They argued that people’s tendency to experience positive or negative emotions accounts for individual differences in job satisfaction.

Being limited by its largely empirical approach, the dispositional approach has faced criticism. Yet personality researchers have shown that personality traits remain largely stable over time, and the same is true with job satisfaction, even through different jobs and careers (Staw & Cohen-Charash, 2005).

Staw’s job satisfaction research stimulated spin-off theories. One of these is the Core Self-Evaluations Model, for which there is good evidence.

Researchers have demonstrated four self-evaluations mediating stability in job satisfaction, independent of job attributes (Judge, Locke, & Durham, 1998):

  • Self-esteem: with higher levels linked to greater job satisfaction
  • Self-efficacy: with higher levels linked to greater job satisfaction
  • Locus of control: the tendency toward an internal rather than external locus of control is linked to job satisfaction
  • Neuroticism: with lower levels linked to greater job satisfaction

3. The Job Characteristics Model

The Job Characteristics Model aims to specify conditions under which people are satisfied by their work and motivated to perform effectively (Hackman & Oldham, 1976).

With meta-analyses lending support for this job satisfaction theory (Fried & Ferris, 1987), it has become commonly used to examine characteristics of work leading to job satisfaction.

Five core characteristics have been reported, along with three psychological states acting as a sort of ‘gateway’ to satisfaction:

Job Satisfaction Diagram

Source: Steptoe-Warren (Occupational Psychology, 2013, p. 174)

  • Skill variety: As the name implies, this characteristic refers to the presence of different kinds of challenges at work.
  • Task identity: The degree to which a job calls for completion of discrete, ‘whole’ pieces of work.
  • Task significance: Whether the job has substantial impact on the lives/work of other people.
  • Autonomy: The degree of freedom or independence the job provides.
  • Feedback: How clearly an individual is told about their performance.

4. Equity theory

Equity theory was outlined in the 1960s by workplace and behavioral psychologist John Stacey Adams (1965). He posited that jobs involve a continuous assessment of how much ‘give and take’ there is between employer and employee.

The basic premise of this model is that job satisfaction and motivation result from a fair balance between an employee’s ‘inputs’ and ‘outputs.’

Here are some common examples of inputs:

  • Skill level
  • Enthusiasm for the job
  • Supporting colleagues
  • Personal sacrifice

Common outputs include:

  • Financial compensation
  • Recognition and reputation
  • Job security
  • Other intangible benefits

The greater the imbalance (or ‘inequity’) between the two, the less likely a strong, productive relationship will emerge between employer and employee. Besides, dissatisfaction can get worse if the ratio between inputs and outputs is deemed to be more imbalanced when compared to others.

This is what makes employees happy at work

5. The social information processing theory

This brings us to the next job satisfaction theory. As social creatures, human beings pay very close attention to the opinions and behaviors of the group. In other words, we’re not living in a vacuum.

Going back to theories of social comparison, people have a drive to look to others for information that helps generate a complete picture of themselves (Festinger, 1954). Couldn’t this also apply to job satisfaction?

Social information processing theory argues this case. With links to the sociological concept of ‘constructivism,’ it recognizes that people form a picture of reality by interacting with people around them.

According to this model, people might (consciously or unconsciously) scrutinize how their colleagues feel before deciding how they feel. As you’d expect, if coworkers feel positive about the work they do and the environment they’re in, a person is more likely to feel satisfied (Jex, 2002).

6. Self-determination theory (SDT)

Self-determination theory (SDT) emerged from the work of Edward Deci and Richard Ryan. As a macro theory successfully validated in many fields of intrinsic motivation and behavior, SDT is well placed to provide insight into job satisfaction.

In contrast with extrinsic motivation, where activities are pursued for an external goal, intrinsic motivation leads to the initiation of behavior for its own reward (Deci, 1971). This reward could be interest or satisfaction, for example.

According to SDT, people can assimilate extrinsic motivations into their core sense of self and value system, changing their behavioral framework.

On the back of this, three universal needs involved in self-determination have been recognized as essential to such integration: the need for competence, autonomy, and relatedness (Ryan & Deci, 2000).

SDT has led to important insights about work motivation and factors related to job performance, which will be discussed further below.

Factors that affect job satisfaction

As you read, you’ll likely notice many of them intersect. Different yet similar ideas often emerge, with many of them showing two-way patterns of cause and effect. This is due to concepts among various schools of thought overlapping.

1. Work that is engaging

A 2017 report from Gallup found that just 13% of the world’s workforce felt ‘engaged’ at work. But what does it mean for work to be engaging?

Engaging activities allow people to express their natural strengths and capitalize on their current skillset. Results from a large observational study of 60 career satisfaction studies spanning two decades (Todd, 2014) matched this line of thinking, adding that engaging work must provide a sense of ‘flow’ and hold the individual’s attention.

The study noted four other factors tied to job satisfaction in meta-analyses that make work engaging. You’ll notice these intersect with the Job Characteristics Model described earlier:

  • Autonomy of work schedule/style
  • Tasks are clear, with an obvious start and end point
  • Task are varied
  • Consistent feedback on performance is provided

2. Work that is meaningful

The same study (Todd, 2014) also highlighted that work entailing help or kindness to others can be a factor in job satisfaction.

While this makes sense because of our need for relatedness (as per the self-determination theory), evidence suggests the dimension of ‘meaningfulness’ of work may have explanatory power.

Despite difficulties pinning down a definition of ‘meaningfulness’ that can be applied across individuals and cultures, a large review found it to be an influential job satisfaction determinant (Rosso, Dekas, & Wrzesniewski, 2010). This study also found meaningfulness is linked to work motivation, behavior, performance, and engagement, along with personal fulfillment and even career development.

This makes sense at an intuitive level and dovetails with both the Job Characteristics Model and Locke’s range of affect theory. If the opportunity for positive, meaningful impact is valued by an individual and that expectation is met, satisfaction will likely ensue.

3. Level of relatedness

On one hand, not everyone is a self-described ‘people person.’ But on the other, our innate need to interact with, connect to, and care for others is well recognized. According to Maslow’s (1943) theory of human motivation, human beings long for a sense of approval and belonging.

Relatedness could apply to many aspects of a person’s job, ranging from whether they feel trusting of their superiors/subordinates to whether they feel part of a meaningful cause that helps and supports people – either inside or outside their immediate environment.

The degree of relatedness in our jobs can even be used to explain how much passion we feel for work. Research by Ivan Spehar and colleagues found that while the level of ‘harmonious passion’ for work does affect job satisfaction, this can partly be explained by how much ‘belongingness’ we feel (Spehar, Forest, & Stenseng, 2016).

4. Ability to leverage character strengths

Environments bringing out the best in us will be more engaging, draw out our best work, and satisfy us most.

In accordance with a universal need to experience a sense of ‘competence’ in self-determination theory, jobs enabling people to capitalize on their unique character strengths are likelier to be satisfying.

Looking to the literature, intellectual, emotional, and interpersonal strengths in particular can buffer against work-related stress, thereby enhancing job satisfaction (Harzer & Ruch, 2015).

But this isn’t where the benefits end. Linking back to the theme of meaningfulness, a study by psychologists Claudia Harzer and Willibald Ruch (2012) showed that developing a ‘calling’ could be a byproduct of congruence between one’s character strengths and those demanded by the workplace.

Furthermore, it was found that being able to apply at least four ‘signature strengths’ at work is critical for positive experiences.

5. Tendency for ‘job crafting’

As discussed, people’s disposition may be an important piece of the puzzle in determining job satisfaction. The real question is which personality factors are most pertinent; one of these might be ‘proactivity.’

Proactive individuals are often more engaged, more satisfied, and more productive at work because of a tendency toward ‘job crafting’ (Bakkar, Tims, & Derks, 2012).

What is job crafting? Essentially, it’s the philosophy of taking the initiative to redesign the way you work. Job crafting enables people to sculpt a personalized approach to tasks, professional relationships, and even the meaning of their job as a whole. And this latter point is usually the aim: to reimagine a job and derive more positive meaning from it.

Although some may be more predisposed to job crafting, it is absolutely a skill that can be learned, like any other. Organizations can do plenty to foster job crafting in employees – and there’s good reason to do so, with studies showing it makes people happier and more satisfied (Slemp & Vella-Brodick, 2013).

6. Workplace culture

Several other factors affect job satisfaction, which can be bracketed under the umbrella of workplace culture.

Let’s look at three examples:

Work–life balance

What we do at home can invigorate our experience of work (Todd, 2014). In general, with too many negative factors like long commutes and unreasonable working hours, personal life can be eroded, bringing a risk of job dissatisfaction.

Does your workplace promote employee autonomy? Research suggests autonomy is vital in job satisfaction. We need a degree of control and flexibility in deciding how  we want to complete tasks and set our schedule.

Communication factors

Is there a culture of appreciating employee achievements? Is there a system in place for clear feedback ? Is there too much or  too little communication coming from colleagues? These have been noted as key factors in job satisfaction (Hackman & Oldham, 1976; Krayer & Westbrook, 1986).

hypothesis on job

2 Job Crafting Coaching Manuals [PDF]

Help others redesign their work. This manual and the accompanying client workbook outline a seven-session coaching trajectory for you, the practitioner, to expertly guide others through their own unique job crafting journey.

Having now covered some core determinants of job satisfaction, it might be tempting to equate satisfaction with productivity. Yet the two aren’t always tightly bound. A large meta-analysis found only a tenuous correlation of 0.3, weaker than many might expect (Judge, Thoresen, Bono, & Patton, 2001).

A more recent Croatian analysis replicated the weak relationship between job satisfaction and performance, which was shown to be bidirectional (Bakotić, 2016). However, there was a stronger link between satisfaction and performance than the reverse direction.

Why might this be the case? Bakotić (2016) laid out the following argument: “workers often receive the same salary and other forms of compensation, regardless of how successful a company is.” Marrying up with equity theory then, perhaps employees who don’t have the chance to directly experience the positive effects of organizational success (an output) are less likely to derive satisfaction from their inputs.

Some have suggested a better determinant of job performance could be psychological wellbeing, which itself is linked to job satisfaction. After all, performance isn’t just influenced by factors related to the job itself, but also elements of life that have nothing to do with it (Wright, Cropanzano, & Bonett, 2007).

Lending credence to the dispositional approach, another meta-analysis found personality factors related to the Five-Factor Model to be important mediators of the satisfaction–performance relationship (Bowling, 2007). While this may be, the author notes that “job satisfaction is an important end in itself and organizational leaders ought to feel obligated to enhance the wellbeing and satisfaction of their employees.”

Increasing Job Satisfaction

First and foremost is our dedicated article explaining how to increase job satisfaction with strategies and tips.

Additionally, one area we’ve covered is the need for people to understand their signature strengths, which can be crucial to finding the right job or excelling in their current position.

Our Maximizing Strengths Masterclass© is a six-module, evidence-based package that can help clients in this way. With all the materials needed, it’s a thorough approach to discovering the unique blend of strengths your client possesses.

We also have an abundance of worksheets to download, one of which is the Job Crafting for Ikigai exercise. The goal of this intervention is to help clients consider potential ways to craft their current job and experience more joy in what they do.

Given the importance of strengths at work, another useful tool is the Your Best Work Self worksheet, which helps clients understand the aspects of their career that fuel their passions.

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others reach their goals, this collection contains 17 validated motivation & goals-achievement tools for practitioners . Use them to help others turn their dreams into reality by applying the latest science-based behavioral change techniques.

Whether you’re working in a large corporation, small business, or heading up a solo enterprise, there seem to be universal factors governing how positive you feel toward work.

At every level of seniority, plenty can be done to create work we love. From macro plans to overhauling workplace culture, right down to a small shift in the quality of attention brought to even the most mundane task, each of us has an important role to play in bringing about job satisfaction.

It was Aristotle who said it best:

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Work & Career Coaching Exercises for free .

  • Adams, J. S. (1965). Inequity in social exchange. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 276–299). Academic Press.
  • Bakkar, A. B., Tims, M., & Derks, D. (2012). Proactive personality and job performance: The role of job crafting and work engagement. Human Relations , 65 (10), 1359–1378.
  • Bakotić, D. (2016). Relationship between job satisfaction and organisational performance. Economic Research-Ekonomska Istraživanja , 29 (1), 118–130.
  • Bowling, N. A. (2007). Is the job satisfaction–job performance relationship spurious? A meta-analytic examination. Journal of Vocational Behavior , 71 (2), 167–185.
  • Deci, E. L. (1971). Effects of externally mediated rewards on intrinsic motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , 18 , 105–115.
  • Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human Relations , 7 (2), 117–140.
  • Fried, Y., & Ferris, G. R. (1987). The validity of the job characteristics model: A review and meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology , 40 (2), 287–322.
  • Gallup. (2017). State of the global workplace. Gallup. Retrieved on December 1, 2020, from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/238079/state-global-workplace-2017.aspx
  • Hackman, J. R., & Oldham, G. R. (1976). Motivation through the design of work: Test of a theory. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance , 16 (2), 250–279.
  • Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2012). When the job is a calling: The role of applying one’s signature strengths at work. The Journal of Positive Psychology , 7 (5), 362–371.
  • Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2015). The relationships of character strengths with coping, work-related stress, and job satisfaction. Frontiers in Psychology , 6 , 165.
  • Jex, S. M. (2002). Organizational psychology: A scientist-practitioner approach . John Wiley.
  • Judge, T. A., Locke, E. A., & Durham, C. C. (1998). The dispositional causes of job satisfaction: A core evaluations approach. Research in Organizational Behavior , 19 , 151–188.
  • Judge, T. A., Thoresen, C. J., Bono, J. E., & Patton, G. K. (2001). The job satisfaction–job performance relationship: A qualitative and quantitative review. Psychological Bulletin , 127 (3), 376–407.
  • Krayer, K. J., & Westbrook, L. (1986). The relationship between communication load and job satisfaction. World Communication , 15 , 85–99.
  • Locke, E. A. (1976). The nature and causes of job satisfaction. In M. D. Dunnette (Ed.), Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology (pp. 1297–1349). Rand McNally.
  • Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review , 50 , 370–396.
  • Rosso, B. D., Dekas, K. H., & Wrzesniewski, A. (2010). On the meaning of work: A theoretical integration and review. Research in Organizational Behavior , 30 , 91–127.
  • Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist , 55 (1), 68–78.
  • Slemp, G. R., & Vella-Brodrick, D. A. (2013). The job crafting questionnaire: A new scale to measure the extent to which employees engage in job crafting. International Journal of Wellbeing , 3 (2), 126–146.
  • Spehar, I., Forest, J., & Stenseng, F. (2016). Passion for work, job satisfaction, and the mediating role of belongingness. Scandinavian Journal of Organizational Psychology , 8 , 17–26.
  • Staw, B. M., Bell, N. E., & Clausen, J. A. (1986). The dispositional approach to job attitudes: A lifetime longitudinal test. Administrative Science Quarterly , 31 (1), 56–77.
  • Staw, B. M., & Cohen-Charash, Y. (2005). The dispositional approach to job satisfaction: More than a mirage, but not yet an oasis: Comment. Journal of Organizational Behavior , 26 (1), 59–78.
  • Steptoe-Warren, G. (2013). Occupational psychology: An applied approach . Pearson.
  • Todd, B. (2014). We reviewed over 60 studies about what makes for a dream job. Here’s what we found. 80,000 Hours . Retrieved on December 1, 2020, from https://80000hours.org/career-guide/job-satisfaction/
  • Weiss, H. M. (2002). Deconstructing job satisfaction: Separating evaluations, beliefs and affective experiences. Human Resource Management Review , 12 , 173–194.
  • Wright, T. A., Cropanzano, R., & Bonett, D. G. (2007). The moderating role of employee positive well being on the relation between job satisfaction and job performance. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology , 12 (2), 93–104.

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  • How to Write a Strong Hypothesis | Steps & Examples

How to Write a Strong Hypothesis | Steps & Examples

Published on May 6, 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on August 15, 2023.

A hypothesis is a statement that can be tested by scientific research. If you want to test a relationship between two or more variables, you need to write hypotheses before you start your experiment or data collection .

Example: Hypothesis

Daily apple consumption leads to fewer doctor’s visits.

Table of contents

What is a hypothesis, developing a hypothesis (with example), hypothesis examples, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about writing hypotheses.

A hypothesis states your predictions about what your research will find. It is a tentative answer to your research question that has not yet been tested. For some research projects, you might have to write several hypotheses that address different aspects of your research question.

A hypothesis is not just a guess – it should be based on existing theories and knowledge. It also has to be testable, which means you can support or refute it through scientific research methods (such as experiments, observations and statistical analysis of data).

Variables in hypotheses

Hypotheses propose a relationship between two or more types of variables .

  • An independent variable is something the researcher changes or controls.
  • A dependent variable is something the researcher observes and measures.

If there are any control variables , extraneous variables , or confounding variables , be sure to jot those down as you go to minimize the chances that research bias  will affect your results.

In this example, the independent variable is exposure to the sun – the assumed cause . The dependent variable is the level of happiness – the assumed effect .

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Step 1. ask a question.

Writing a hypothesis begins with a research question that you want to answer. The question should be focused, specific, and researchable within the constraints of your project.

Step 2. Do some preliminary research

Your initial answer to the question should be based on what is already known about the topic. Look for theories and previous studies to help you form educated assumptions about what your research will find.

At this stage, you might construct a conceptual framework to ensure that you’re embarking on a relevant topic . This can also help you identify which variables you will study and what you think the relationships are between them. Sometimes, you’ll have to operationalize more complex constructs.

Step 3. Formulate your hypothesis

Now you should have some idea of what you expect to find. Write your initial answer to the question in a clear, concise sentence.

4. Refine your hypothesis

You need to make sure your hypothesis is specific and testable. There are various ways of phrasing a hypothesis, but all the terms you use should have clear definitions, and the hypothesis should contain:

  • The relevant variables
  • The specific group being studied
  • The predicted outcome of the experiment or analysis

5. Phrase your hypothesis in three ways

To identify the variables, you can write a simple prediction in  if…then form. The first part of the sentence states the independent variable and the second part states the dependent variable.

In academic research, hypotheses are more commonly phrased in terms of correlations or effects, where you directly state the predicted relationship between variables.

If you are comparing two groups, the hypothesis can state what difference you expect to find between them.

6. Write a null hypothesis

If your research involves statistical hypothesis testing , you will also have to write a null hypothesis . The null hypothesis is the default position that there is no association between the variables. The null hypothesis is written as H 0 , while the alternative hypothesis is H 1 or H a .

  • H 0 : The number of lectures attended by first-year students has no effect on their final exam scores.
  • H 1 : The number of lectures attended by first-year students has a positive effect on their final exam scores.

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

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  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
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A hypothesis is not just a guess — it should be based on existing theories and knowledge. It also has to be testable, which means you can support or refute it through scientific research methods (such as experiments, observations and statistical analysis of data).

Null and alternative hypotheses are used in statistical hypothesis testing . The null hypothesis of a test always predicts no effect or no relationship between variables, while the alternative hypothesis states your research prediction of an effect or relationship.

Hypothesis testing is a formal procedure for investigating our ideas about the world using statistics. It is used by scientists to test specific predictions, called hypotheses , by calculating how likely it is that a pattern or relationship between variables could have arisen by chance.

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Healthy and Happy Working from Home? Effects of Working from Home on Employee Health and Job Satisfaction

Associated data.

The data presented in this study are available on reasonable request from the corresponding author, F.N. The data are not publicly available, as this was assured to the participants in the study information as well as in the data privacy statement.

In addition to its catastrophic health effects, the COVID-19 pandemic also acts as a catalyst for new forms of work. Working from home (WFH) has become commonplace for many people worldwide. But under what circumstances is WFH beneficial and when does it increase harms to health? The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of specific characteristics of WFH for health (work ability, stress-related physical and psychological symptoms) and job satisfaction among German employees. The study is based on data from a Germany-wide panel survey with employees from different industries ( n = 519). Using multiple regressions, it was found that the functionality of the technical equipment at home has positive effects on the health of employees (i.e., ability to work, stress-related symptoms) and job satisfaction. The percentual weekly amount of WFH influences stress-related symptoms, i.e., a higher amount of weekly working time WFH, was associated with more stress-related symptoms. Furthermore, it negatively influences job satisfaction. The feeling of increased autonomy leads to positive effects on employees’ job satisfaction. The results provide starting points for interventions and indicate the need for legal regulations for WFH. Further theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

1. Introduction

Since March 2020, the increasing incidence of COVID-19 infections has led to numerous restrictions in all areas of public and private life. The working world has been confronted with multiple challenges. The coronavirus disease COVID-19, in addition to all the challenges and drastic consequences, also acts as a catalyst for new forms of work. Globally, over 3.4 billion people were restricted to their homes as of March 2020. Consequently, many millions of employees were temporarily working from home (WFH) [ 1 ]. In a European comparison, Germany lagged significantly behind other countries in regard to the possibility of WFH before the COVID-19 pandemic—less than one in two employers offered their employees the option of working from home [ 2 ]. However, COVID-19 has changed the role and conditions of home office work in Germany. For example, many companies allowed their employees to work from home to reduce the risk of infection [ 3 ]. More than half of all employees in Germany have potential access to a home office in principle, but this potential was barely realized before COVID-19 [ 2 ]. While only about 12% worked from home before the pandemic, this was possible for over 35% of Germans during the first lockdown in April 2020 [ 3 ]. The data vary modestly; [ 4 ] report that up to 26.5% of workers worked from home between March and April 2020. Hence, the proportion of employees WFH has more than doubled/almost tripled.

WFH [ 5 ] has become part of everyday life for many employees, and it can be assumed that a growing proportion of weekly working hours will continue to be performed at home in the future. In Germany, there are different regulations regarding remote workplaces. The national workplace policy only partially applies to telework, at times called telecommuting, even when a contractual agreement between employees and employer is required for these new forms of work. Hence, defining the types and conditions of WFH is crucial for regulation and research. WFH has been studied as a form of telework and mobile working or under the banner of telework, which has been defined as follows based on a comprehensive literature review: Telework is “a work practice that involves members of an organization substituting a portion of their typical work hours (ranging from a few hours per week to nearly full-time) to work away from a central workplace—typically principally from home—using technology to interact with others as needed to conduct work tasks” [ 6 ]. The number of hours may vary greatly, and policies may be defined by a minimum number of hours WFH. For instance, German policies assume location-independent working of at least ten hours per week [ 5 ]

As COVID-19 became more widespread, many governments strongly encouraged or even mandated minimizing physical presence at work [ 7 ]. EU data indicates that, in most countries, more than half of the workers who have started WFH since the pandemic had no prior experience with teleworking. Worldwide data collated by the OECD shows that countries with comparable data experienced increased rates of teleworking during the COVID-19 pandemic [ 8 ]. In France and the United Kingdom, 47% of employees teleworked during the first lockdown periods (March–May 2020). Australia also reached the same rate by December 2020. However, although similar levels of telework were reported in countries like France, the United Kingdom, and Australia with 47% of employees teleworking during the first lockdown periods, the rates of increase vary widely. In France, teleworking more than doubled compared to one year before, while it was 1.8 times the level before the pandemic in the United Kingdom and 1.5 times the level before the pandemic in Australia.

Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has a big impact on the views of employees and employers. In a study by Bonin and colleagues [ 9 ], up to 93% of the employees surveyed would like to have the option of WFH even after the COVID-19 pandemic. Most employees want a hybrid model with workdays in the office as well as workdays in the home office [ 9 ]. Reasons for this from the employee perspective include, e.g., increased subjectively perceived productivity, higher job satisfaction [ 9 ], higher autonomy, and better work-life balance (see e.g., [ 10 ]). From the perspective of occupational health, it is also important to assess the potential health effects of WFH. The following section summarizes empirical findings on possible health effects of WFH.

1.1. Employees’ Health in Home Office

Earlier studies addressed health effects of pre-pandemic telework. A systematic review by Charalampous et al. [ 11 ] found telework increased employees’ positive emotions, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment levels and ameliorated feelings of emotional exhaustion. Another systematic review suggested that telework can improve work-family life and employee well-being but that further research should explore its impact on other areas related to work life, including health and job satisfaction [ 12 ].

A growing number of studies examine the health effects of WFH during the COVID-19 pandemic. These may not be directly comparable to studies conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic that depict “normal” WFH conditions because of specific differences (e.g., rushed transformation process, low technical equipment). Studies of telework report both positive and negative health effects, and the overall effect is poorly understood, with positive health effects seemingly predominating [ 13 ].

On the one hand, telework offers some health-promoting effects. For example, the work environment at home can promote concentration, reduce the number of interruptions, and allow for more privacy [ 13 ]. WFH during COVID-19 allows some employees more flexibility in terms of working hours, which may be associated with positive psychosocial outcomes [ 14 ]. However, in another study, nearly 34% of home office workers reported that they split their work time between evenings and weekends, leading to a decrease in recovery periods [ 15 ]. This is reinforced by the general tendency for working hours to increase during WFH [ 9 ], which, in turn, can have negative health consequences, e.g., on sleep quality and physical and mental health.

An important difference between earlier telework and WFH during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, is that the switch to home office was abrupt and unplanned. As a result, some workplaces at home were set up quickly and without taking ergonomic requirements into account. Consequently, unergonomic workplaces can lead to pain or musculoskeletal diseases related to WFH (e.g., [ 1 , 16 ]). The most common health effects associated with telework relate to musculoskeletal problems, stress, increased work, and isolation or depression [ 13 ].

In the present study, we assess associations with stress-related symptoms and work ability, which is defined as an index that indicates how well a person can work currently and in the near future and whether that person is able to do his or her work in terms of work demands and health resources [ 17 ]. A study of employees in Australia and New Zealand found increased sedentary behavior during COVID-19 was associated with lower work ability and job performance [ 18 ]. Another study of laboratory staff in China found work ability decreased with increased job burnout during COVID-19 [ 19 ]. Moreover, a recent large-scale Finnish cohort study found that WFH was associated with decreases in self-rated health and work ability, although the effect was smaller than among employees not WFH. The same study showed that decreased work ability was associated with team reorganization due to COVID-19 [ 14 ].

WFH additionally can have a variety of other health effects. The absence of face-to-face meetings and the increase in meetings via digital platforms with the use of microphones and headphones can introduce specific strains [ 20 ]. In a study of Brazilian workers, employees who were WFH during the COVID-19 pandemic reported more vocal fatigue symptoms and muscular pain than employees who worked on-site [ 20 ]. McDowell and colleagues [ 21 ] surveyed 2303 workers in America and found that changes in work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically WFH or job loss, lead to longer screen and sitting time. Such longer periods of sedentary time have negative effects on current as well as future employee health [ 21 ].

Moreover, contact restrictions to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting WFH may lead to social isolation. The majority of respondents (78%) said they missed contact with their colleagues [ 9 ]. Isolation while WFH can also have negative health effects. Isolation can lead to the feeling of loneliness, which is a stressor that is associated with various health consequences [ 22 ], such as heart disease or mental illnesses, e.g., depression and anxiety disorders [ 23 ]. Loneliness, especially prolonged loneliness with no clear end, is a major contributor to depression and suicidality [ 23 ]. In this context, loneliness can significantly reduce life satisfaction and thus increase the risk of suicide [ 24 ]. For example, in a survey of over 1000 adult Americans during the lockdown, participants reported high levels of loneliness [ 25 ]. The authors found strong associations with depression and suicidal thoughts [ 25 ].

Overall, the question of whether WFH is beneficial or detrimental to health is multi-faceted and complex. To contribute to developing practical measures in occupational medicine and to better understand the health consequences of WFH, we examine individual characteristics of WFH in this study. The focus is on the following research questions: What characteristics of working from home positively or negatively influence health, i.e., work ability and stress-related physical and psychological symptoms? And what characteristics of working from home positively or negatively influence job satisfaction?

In previous studies, survey items typically measure whether employees work from home or not. Multiple studies criticize such a dichotomous approach and call for a more precise survey of the intensity of digitalized work and WFH (see e.g., [ 9 , 26 ]). Therefore, in the present study, employees were asked what percentage of their current working hours they currently work from home. Bouziri and colleagues [ 1 ] conclude that, in their analysis of potential health effects from WFH during the COVID-19 pandemic, the health risks are ambivalent. On the one hand, health risks from telework could be amplified during COVID-19-related WFH because the switch to home office was very spontaneous and unplanned. Therefore, the work environment at home is probably often set up in an unergonomic way. This is compounded by a reduction in physical activity [ 1 ]. On the other hand, the duration of exposure to WFH during the COVID-19 pandemic is temporary and short-lived [ 1 ]. We hypothesize:

The percentage of working time in the home office (Factor 1) has a negative influence on (1a) work ability and (1b) psychological and physical stress symptoms .

1.2. Employees’ Job Satisfaction in Home Office

Employees’ job satisfaction is closely associated with mental health (e.g., [ 27 , 28 , 29 ]). Job satisfaction can be defined as the degree of employees’ fulfilment with their work. Moreover, it is the positive emotional state resulting from the professional experience [ 27 ]. Temporarily working remotely can increase job satisfaction by enhancing organizational commitment and the relationship quality with leaders and decreasing work-time conflict [ 6 ]. Accordingly, the spontaneous and temporary COVID-19-related shift to WFH could have positive effects on job satisfaction. However, previous studies on the impact of WFH on job satisfaction provide ambivalent findings, such as decreased relationship quality with colleagues [ 6 ].

Social interactions at work significantly influence job satisfaction [ 27 ]. Consequently, due to the rules on social distancing and WFH during the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation could have a negative impact on job satisfaction. In a study by Toscano and Zappalá [ 30 ], social isolation was shown to negatively impact remote job satisfaction. However, Bouziri and colleagues [ 1 ] point out that, to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, several companies switched completely to remote work and thus all employees worked from home. As a result, communication in these companies shifted entirely to digital tools. Bouziri and colleagues [ 1 ] argue that, in this case, the risk of social isolation is lower compared to what teleworkers experienced in normal times before the pandemic. The latter worked from home, while some of their colleagues had direct (social) interactions in the office.

Studies of WFH during the COVID-19 pandemic indicate ambivalent effects on employees’ health and job satisfaction. A major German public health insurance company reports that, while employees experience more autonomy and improved job satisfaction during WFH, psychological stress is increased at the same time [ 15 ]. Yet, a slight majority of mobile workers reported that their job satisfaction did not change during WFH [ 16 ]. As a possible explanation, the authors argue that the nature and extent of the job did not change during the WFH period [ 16 ]. Following these arguments, we expect only a small effect size in the influence of WFH on job satisfaction in our study and postulate:

The percentage of working time spent in the home office (Factor 1) has a positive influence on job satisfaction .

1.3. Characteristics of Home Office

A novel focus of the present study is to investigate specific aspects of WFH. We examine four different characteristics of WFH: the technical equipment in the home office (Factor 2), the availability of a company agreement specifying the framework conditions for WFH (Factor 3), and the flexibility granted by the employer for one’s work (Factor 4) as objective characteristics of the home office. Furthermore, we focus on the experience of increased autonomy (Factor 5) as a subjective characteristic of the home office. All four characteristics are analyzed regarding their impacts on employees’ health—work ability and psychological and physical stress symptoms—and job satisfaction.

When WFH, employees are dependent on information communication technologies (ICT), which can include a wide range of technical equipment. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the spread as well as measures to contain the pandemic, many employees and companies quickly switched to WFH and other forms of mobile working at short notice. In a survey by Backhaus et al. [ 31 ], a lack of technical equipment was cited as an obstacle to WFH. In another survey, 59% of employees stated that they had no impairment in the home office due to technology [ 9 ]. Consequently, this would leave a large proportion of employees who experience impairments due to technical equipment in the home office. Yet, there is a lack of legal frameworks for how workplaces in the home office should be equipped. Since the technical equipment in the home office is not defined by law and the COVID-19-caused switch to WFH was quick and not very planned, we assume that the technical equipment in the home office is not sufficient for some employees. We therefore hypothesize that the functionality of technologies for working in home office has an influence on various health parameters as well as the job satisfaction of the employees.

The extent of functionality of technology (Factor 2) available in the home office has a significant positive impact on (3a) work ability, (3b) psychological and physical stress symptoms, and (3c) job satisfaction .

Bellmann and Hübler [ 3 ] found that the job satisfaction of employees with explicit agreements for WFH was significantly higher than it was for employees without such agreements. The authors emphasize that especially times of inaccessibility should be explicitly agreed upon. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, significantly fewer employees worked in home offices and often contractual agreements in companies were not formulated. Due to the spontaneous and unexpected COVID-19-related move to the home office, it is reasonable to assume that many companies have not made contractual agreements regarding WFH in time [ 32 ]. In a representative survey on working hours conducted by the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA), approximately 12% of employees stated that they had an agreement on teleworking [ 33 ]. These employees reported a greater balance between resources and burdens of work compared to employees without such agreements. For the latter, work demands such as overtime outweighed the increased flexibility as an example of workplace resources. According to [ 9 ], other important components of such a company agreement regarding WFH include documentation of working hours, agreements on setting up and financing the mobile or home workplace, data protection issues, etc. Based on these results, we hypothesize that the availability of a company agreement for WFH has a positive impact on several health parameters as well as employee job satisfaction.

The availability of a company agreement on working from home (Factor 3) has a positive influence on (4a) work ability, (4b) psychological and physical stress symptoms, and (4c) job satisfaction .

WFH during the COVID-19 pandemic involves numerous strains and demands. To deal with these in a healthy way, employees need appropriate resources. We assume that flexibility in one’s own work, made possible by the employer, is an important resource for dealing with the uncertain and changing demands of work. Specifically, the participants were asked to what extent they could organize their working hours while WFH themselves, or whether arrangements with superiors were necessary. WFH can be associated with greater flexibility in terms of working hours, breaks, and sequencing of tasks, allowing a greater degree of autonomy for employees [ 34 ]. Studies indicate that a higher degree of individual responsibility, more flexibility, and freedom as central features of WFH have an effect on the job satisfaction of employees. One advantage of the increased flexibility is that employees can combine their work and private tasks and are thus freer in their work–life balance [ 35 ]. Different studies found that WFH has some health-promoting aspects, such as more flexible working hours. These can lead to higher satisfaction, performance, and motivation [ 4 ]. Therefore, we postulate:

The degree of flexibility that employers allow their employees while WFH (Factor 4) has a significant positive influence on (5a) work ability, (5b) psychological and physical stress symptoms, and (5c) job satisfaction.

In addition to the resources required for WFH, this form of new work presumably also additionally entails new resources. In a meta-analysis by Gajendran and Harrison [ 34 ], telework was shown to have positive effects on perceived autonomy. The authors of [ 36 ] surveyed 709 Slovak home office workers. A significant relation between job satisfaction while teleworking and job autonomy was found. Job autonomy is linked to the feeling of having control over one’s work environment, having greater flexibility, and making a choice [ 37 ]. Petrou et al. [ 38 ] defined work autonomy as workers’ control over the performance of tasks. We assume that employees experience more autonomy in the home office than previously in the office. For example, some employees may be able to determine the order of their tasks independently of others and schedule their breaks and the start and end of work independently, etc. Wang and colleagues [ 39 ] defined work characteristics for virtual work, including social support and job autonomy. They found that “virtual work characteristics” positively influenced the performance and well-being of employees through the experienced challenges, e.g., loneliness and inefficient communication [ 39 ]. A longitudinal study also demonstrated the important role of job autonomy in times of the COVID-19 pandemic for employee health [ 40 ]. They found that emotional exhaustion among women with relatively low levels of work autonomy increased over the study period (during the COVID-19 pandemic), compared to women with high levels of work autonomy [ 40 ]. Lengen et al. [ 4 ] summarized different empirical studies that found that increased autonomy during WFH can lead to higher job satisfaction. We hypothesize the following:

The experience of increased autonomy (Factor 5) in the home office has a significantly positive influence on (6a) work ability, (6b) psychological and physical stress symptoms, and (6c) job satisfaction.

2. Materials and Methods

Individual data from a large Germany-wide study was used to investigate the research questions. In the following, we inform about the sample, the procedure, the measurement instruments used, and their evaluation. First, descriptive analyses were performed, and correlational analyses were calculated for all variables used.

2.1. Procedure and Participants

The data used for the current study are part of a longitudinal study with two measurement time points. A panel company conducted a Germany-wide online survey at two measurement points (t1 July–August 2020, t2 November–December 2020). For this study, the data from the second survey were used. Using online questionnaires, employees in Germany were surveyed about, amongst other things, their current work situation and occupational health. The consent procedure and study protocol were approved by the ethics committee of Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin. The requirement for participation was that the respondents lived in Germany, were employed, and performed a part of their weekly working time in the home office. At the time of data collection, Germany was in the so-called “lockdown light”. In this context, 14% of employees in Germany worked from home [ 41 ], i.e., approx. 6.3 million people based on 44.88 million employed persons in Germany [ 42 ]. Participants were recruited through the panel company. There was a minor financial compensation. The survey was conducted in German; sample items were translated by the authors for this article.

The data set at the second measurement point includes n = 519 employees. The gender distribution was rather balanced with 53.6% male and 46.4% female, and the average age was 45.37 ( SD = 12.57), ranging from 20 to 69. The educational level of the study sample was high, a fact also shown regarding other studies of digital work based on online panels [ 43 ]: university and technical college degrees were most frequently reported as the highest professional education (39.3%). In addition, 26.8% stated that they had completed dual vocational training or skilled worker training. A total of 18.7% indicated a degree from an undergraduate technical college, 2.7% no vocational training degree, and 2.3% a doctorate or postdoctoral degree. The average monthly net income (i.e., the sum of wages, salary, income, in each case after deduction of taxes etc.) was 2000–3000€. The sample was also diverse in terms of reported branches. The following information was provided regarding branches (in descending order): 12.7% other services; 10.4% other industries; 9.4% IT, computers, and mathematics; 8.3% social work and education; 8.1% office, business, and administration; 7.1% banking, insurance, and real estate; 6.4% health, medicine, nursing, and sports; 5.6% trade, distribution, sales; and all other industries <5%. Participants also provided information on their employment. The majority of the sample (68.2%) was employed on a permanent basis.

2.2. Measures

2.2.1. factors of working from home.

The amount of worktime in the home office was measured by a single item, which was developed by the research team. Participants were asked to indicate on a sliding scale of 0–100% what percentage of their weekly work time they currently work from home. Furthermore, the technical functionality of applications used in the home office (“the technical applications I need for my work function”) and the experience of having more autonomy in the home office (“I experience more autonomy/decision-making in the home office”) were measured each with a single-item using a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (does not apply at all) to 5 (fully applies). The existence of an agreement regarding WFH was measured with one item. The response options included additional information about the timing of the agreement: 1 (no agreement), 2 (yes, even before the COVID-19 pandemic), or 3 (yes, only since the COVID-19 pandemic). Finally, participants were asked, if and to what degree of flexibility their employers allow them to WFH. The response options were “No, I am not allowed to work in a home office”, “Yes, with clear guidelines”, “Yes, flexible with agreement”, and “Yes, completely flexible to schedule myself”; i.e., higher values indicate a higher degree of flexibility in the home office that is granted by employers.

2.2.2. Outcome Variables

The general level of work ability was assessed using one item from the Work Ability Index (WAI, [ 44 ]). Ebener and Hasselhorn [ 17 ] point out that the use of this single item as the Work Ability Score (WAS) is the best known in occupational health research. Therefore, general work ability was assessed on a sliding scale from 0 (totally unable to work) to 10 (best work ability). Using items from the subscale “psychological and physical symptoms of stress” of the Burnout Bullying Inventory [ 45 ], 11 different physical and psychological symptoms (e.g., headaches, listlessness, sadness, and nightmares) were assessed on a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (does not apply at all) to 5 (fully applies). For hypothesis testing, a sum score was formed across all symptoms (range: 11–55), with higher scores representing stronger agreement with symptoms and, consequently, a greater variety of symptoms. Job satisfaction was measured by a single item (“I am satisfied with my job.”) using a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (does not apply at all) to 5 (fully applies).

2.2.3. Statistical Analyses

All analyses were conducted with the software IBM SPSS Statistics 26.0 (International Business Machines Corporation, Armonk, NY, USA). Prior to testing the hypotheses, descriptive analyses were conducted. The correlations of all outcome variables and predictors are shown in Table 1 . A multiple regression model was performed to test the influence of the pre-described factors on the outcome variables, i.e., work ability, stress-related symptoms, and job satisfaction.

Means (M), standard deviations (SD) and correlations (r) for the Main Variables.

Note. n = 519. * p < 0.05. ** p < 0.01.

The mean values and standard deviations of the used items are shown in Table 1 . For hypothesis testing, a sum score of all psychological and physical symptoms was formed. The estimate of reliability (internal consistency) for the subscale to assess stress-related symptoms is α = 0.918.

3.1. Testing the Hypotheses

Multiple regression models.

Due to the complexity of health, we examined multiple regression analyses models. Specifically, we examined the influence of the WFH-characteristics on various outcome variables, i.e., work ability, stress-related symptoms, and job satisfaction. The results of the multiple regression models are shown in Table 2 . First, we tested the influence of multiple predictors on employees’ work ability. Factor 2 (technical functionality) was the only significant predictor of work ability and explained 8.2% of the variance in employees’ work ability, F (5, 513) = 10.296, p < 0.001. Therefore, Hypothesis 3a was confirmed. Second, we tested the influence of the predictors on different physical and psychological stress-related symptoms. The predictors Factor 1 (percentage of working time spent in the home office), Factor 2 (technical functionality), and Factor 3 (availability of company agreement) significantly predicted stress-related symptoms, F (5, 513) = 4.483, p < 0.01, corrected R 2 = 0.033. Surprisingly, a positive beta weight for Factor 3 was shown, i.e., employees with a higher level of contractual arrangements to WFH reported more stress-related symptoms. Therefore, Hypotheses 1b and 3b were confirmed, whereas the analysis for Hypothesis 4b showed an opposite effect. Finally, we analyzed job satisfaction in a multiple regression. Factor 1, Factor 2, and Factor 5 (experience of increased autonomy) significantly predicted job satisfaction, F (5, 513) = 10.08, p < 0.001, R 2 = 0.081. Accordingly, Hypotheses 2, 3c, and 6c were confirmed. The results of the multiple regressions are presented in Table 2 .

Results of multiple regression analysis.

Note. n = 519; * p < 0.05. ** p < 0.01. *** p < 0.001; a Factor 1: percentage of working time spent in the home office; b Factor 2: extent of functionality of technology available in the home office; c Factor 3: availability of a company agreement on WFH; d Factor 4: degree of flexibility in home office granted by the employer; e Factor 5: experience of increased autonomy in the home office.

4. Discussion

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a far-reaching impact on lives worldwide. The consequences for the world of work are drastic, and, at the same time, the pandemic is serving as a catalyst for new forms of work and accelerating digitalization. The aim of this study was to increase knowledge about the circumstances under which working from home (WFH) is beneficial to employees’ health and job satisfaction. Considering different and partly contradictory empirical findings on the question of whether WFH is beneficial or detrimental to health, we examined specific factors of WFH and their health effects and influences on job satisfaction. In a Germany-wide online survey, we investigated the effects of five WFH characteristics (i.e., the percentage of weekly working time WFH, the functionality of the technology, the existence of a company regulation, the degree of flexibility enabled by the employer, and the experience of autonomy) on health parameters (i.e., work ability and stress-related psychological and physical symptoms) as well as on employees’ job satisfaction. Following Bonin et al. [ 9 ], we examined the intensity of home office work (i.e., the extent of percent time worked in the home office), instead of dichotomously modeling WFH.

The percentage of weekly working time WFH had a negative influence on stress-related symptoms in the present study. Accordingly, employees who work a higher percentage of their weekly hours from home reported more psychological and physical symptoms than employees who WFH fewer hours. In contrast, the percentage of weekly work time spent in the home office had no influence on work ability (Hypothesis 1a). Consistent with the findings of Moretti et al. [ 16 ] and contrary to our reasoning, the amount of WFH had a negative impact on employee job satisfaction (Hypothesis 2). It is often believed that telework enhances job satisfaction, yet research has found both positive and negative relationships. Golden and Vega [ 46 ], however, have suggested that job satisfaction may plateau and decrease at more extensive levels of telework. The extent of functionality of technology positively predicted work ability (Hypothesis 3a), physical and psychological stress-related symptoms (Hypothesis 3b), and job satisfaction (Hypothesis 3c). The important influence of this factor on all outcome variables reinforces previous findings in an EU-wide study highlighting the importance of an adequate provision of equipment. The same study also found that, among employees with good equipment, 77% were satisfied with telework compared to 31% of those without the appropriate equipment [ 47 ]. Overall, 39% of respondents reported having regulations on WFH in their employment contract. Contrary to our expectations, the availability of a company agreement on WFH showed associations with a higher number of stress-related symptoms. This may be due to the fact that the variable used did not assess the quality of agreements, although telecommuting policies and procedures vary across organizations in terms of allowable practices and specificity and thus entail varied outcomes [ 6 ].

Subjectively perceived increases in autonomy while WFH are important for employees’ health during the COVID-19 pandemic, as shown by Meyer and colleagues [ 40 ]. Contrary to previous findings [ 40 ] the experience of increased autonomy in the home office did not affect work ability (Hypothesis 6a) or stress-related symptoms (Hypothesis 6b) in our study. As postulated, however, the experience of increased autonomy positively predicted job satisfaction (Hypothesis 6c), which is consistent with findings in the meta-analysis by Gajendran and Harrison [ 34 ]

4.1. Implications

Even after the COVID-19 pandemic or the lifting of COVID-19-related restrictions, WFH is likely to remain an essential part of the new world of work. Due to the experienced benefits of WFH, both by employers and employees, and technological advances, the trend toward WFH could continue beyond the end of the pandemic (e.g., [ 48 ]). In the future, many employees may want a hybrid work model—a flexible mix of WFH and on-site work (e.g., [ 2 ]). In preparation for this possible development, the health effects of telework and hybrid work should be studied in more detail to identify potential risk factors and develop appropriate workplace policies [ 6 ].

The functionality of the technical equipment in the home office has a decisive influence on the health and job satisfaction of employees. Due to the mostly unplanned transformation process towards WFH, the technical equipment at many people’s homes was not sufficient to enable them to work effectively and healthily. The work situation could still improve as both companies and individuals improve their technical equipment for WFH. In our study, the factor “functionality of technical equipment” influenced all outcomes. In order to protect and strengthen the health and work experience of employees during WFH, legal regulations should be developed. Certain regulations, such as insurance coverage in the event of accidents, also apply to WFH. Nevertheless, there is a need for coordination for more concrete regulations, not only in Germany. Analogous to regulations regarding telework, employers should provide the necessary technical equipment and ensure its functionality. It would be conceivable, for example, that employers provide mobile, ergonomically designed work equipment for WFH in the interest of occupational health and safety.

The findings of this study, as well as previous studies, should be used to develop practical measurement tools for occupational health. Specific factors of WFH as well as anticipated consequences thereof should be considered. Measuring WFH as a percentage of weekly working hours also allows hybrid work to be modeled.

The subjectively perceived increase in one’s own autonomy was surveyed as a job resource. WFH gives employees more autonomy, which is needed to cope with the demands of this new form of work. The present study showed the importance of autonomy for job satisfaction. In future crises, the autonomy of employees should be increased as quickly as possible from the beginning [ 40 ]. Flexible work arrangements that enable WFH and hybrid work models, as well as a certain degree of technical flexibility, can empower employees in crises and possibly protect their health. Autonomy in crises gives employees the opportunity to better manage private and professional demands [ 40 ]. Future studies should therefore examine the function of job-related resources as well as personal resources in the context of new forms of work, especially WFH. Companies should promote relevant resources (e.g., social support and feedback) that are necessary for working healthily and satisfied in times of crisis as well as in the context of new forms of work.

4.2. Limitations

As with any field study, this study has some limitations. First, the data used here are from a single source and are self-reported. This can lead to monomethod bias and carries the risk of social desirability bias and conceptual overlap to the extent that self-reported measures express a similar underlying meaning as the outcome measures (see e.g., [ 49 ]).

Second, causal interpretations cannot be made based on our cross-sectional study design. The study conducted two surveys with the same sample but did not use completely identical questionnaires. Therefore, the analysis for this article was cross-sectional with data from one measurement point. Longitudinal study designs with multiple measurement time points would be necessary to make causal statements. An analysis of the data from both the first and second measurement time point by the research team is still pending. In addition, there is a lack of baseline data regarding employee health, job satisfaction, etc., prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic because the data were collected during the lockdown in the winter of 2020.

Third, most factors and outcome variables were tested using a single item. We chose this approach for economic reasons. However, this questionnaire design significantly reduces the variance measured. In addition, no latent factors could be formed since relevant factors were represented by only one item each. In future studies, specific factors of WFH should be selected and surveyed using subscales. Furthermore, we used some items that have not yet been validated. The use of established (sub)scales would certainly be beneficial in future studies but was hardly possible due to the topicality of the COVID-19 situation, the novelty, and the exploratory nature of the study at baseline.

Furthermore, the study was conducted exclusively in Germany. To confirm the results, future studies should also survey employees in other countries. To ensure a certain generalizability, employees from different industries were surveyed, thus reflecting a certain diversity of the German working population.

Finally, research questions about WFH were examined in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, an anxiety-producing, uncertain situation. Interpretation of study findings on the health effects of WFH conducted during the pandemic should take this into account. WFH-associated health risks could be amplified by the context of the COVID-19 pandemic [ 1 ]. The influence of concern about the virus may play a critical role in the current association of WFH and health outcomes as well as job satisfaction. For example, [ 30 ] found that social isolation had more negative effects on job satisfaction among employees with high levels of virus-related concern (i.e., the feeling of being worried, frightened, depressed, or angry) than among employees with lower levels of virus-related anxiety.

5. Conclusions

The COVID-19 pandemic led to rapid changes worldwide and had an enormous impact on the world of work. The uptake of WFH was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and has increased to unprecedented levels. Characteristic factors of WFH, such as the functionality of technology, the percentage of working time WFH, or the experience of autonomy are associated with health and job satisfaction. Sufficient and functioning technical equipment as well as a high degree of autonomy are important for healthy and satisfied work from home. Both should be ensured by appropriate legal regulations. Work climate, social support, and (informal) exchange should be considered while WFH collectively. Many employees wish to continue working from home (at least partially) even after the pandemic has ended. Understanding the factors of WFH and their influences on the job satisfaction and health of employees allows targeted interventions and legal regulations to be developed and implemented. With this knowledge, employers and employees can take appropriate measures to design digital work in a healthy and satisfying way.

Author Contributions

F.N.: conceptualization, methodology, data analysis, writing the original draft, reviewing, and editing the text, and visualization. P.B.: writing—review and editing. F.B.-Z.: supervision and study design. S.V.-M.: supervision and writing—review and editing. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

The publication of this article was not supported by external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

The study was conducted in accordance with the guidelines of the Declaration of Helsinki. The guidelines of the Declaration of Helsinki were followed in the present study. According to the assessment of the authors as well as the ethics committee, no formal approval of the Institutional Review Board of the local ethics committee was required.

Informed Consent Statement

The consent procedure and study protocol were approved by the ethics committee of Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin. Informed consent was secured from all participants involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

Conflicts of interest.

The authors declare no conflict of interest. The funders had no role in the design of the study, in the analyses, or interpretation of data nor in the writing of the manuscript or in the decision to publish the results.

Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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Original research article, work-life balance, job satisfaction, and job performance of smes employees: the moderating role of family-supportive supervisor behaviors.

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  • 1 Department of Management, Universitas Negeri Padang, Padang, Indonesia
  • 2 BRAC Business School, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • 3 Faculty of Economics and Management, National University of Malaysia, Bangi, Malaysia

Even though studies on work-life balance and family-supportive supervisor behaviors are prevalent, there are few studies in the SME setting, and the implications are yet unexplained. Thus, the study examines the effect of work-life balance on the performance of employees in SMEs, along with the mediating role of job satisfaction and the moderating role of family-supportive supervisor behaviors. We have developed a conceptually mediated-moderated model for the nexus of work-life balance and job performance. We collected data from SMEs and employed SEM-PLS to test the research hypothesis and model. Empirical results demonstrate that work-life balance positively influences job satisfaction and performance. Our empirical findings also revealed that job satisfaction partially mediates the relationship between work-life balance and job performance. We also found that when FSSB interacts with work-life balance and job satisfaction, it moderates the relationship between work-life balance and job performance and job satisfaction and job performance. Hence, our findings provide exciting and valuable insights for research and practice.

Introduction

The importance of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the global and national economies is worth mentioning, considering their role in creating employment and contributing to GDP. According to a World Bank (2020) survey on SMEs, the sector accounts for 90% of businesses and 50% of jobs globally. According to the report, this sector contributes more than 40% of GDP and creates 70% employment in developing economies. The SME sector is rapidly expanding in Indonesia, and around 63 million SMEs operate ( Surya et al., 2021 ). Of those, 62 million are classified as medium-sized firms, and 0.75 million are classified as small businesses. SMEs are divided into four categories: household businesses with 1–5 workers; small and medium businesses with 6–19 workers; medium-sized companies with 20–29 workers; and large companies with more than 100 workers ( Badan Pusat Statistik, 2020 ). More importantly, the sector contributes 61.07% of the country’s total GDP and provides 97% of the entire employment ( ILO, 2019 ; Kementerian Koperasi dan UKM Republik Indonesia, 2019 ; Pramono et al., 2021 ).

Given the importance of SMEs in the economy, it is necessary to maintain and sustain the sector’s human resource performance. A strand of the literature highlighted that firm-specific factors and the environment impact employee performance. Another strand of the literature highlighted that the performance of an employee could be influenced by cognitive factors, such as individual quality ( Luthans et al., 2007 ), supervisor support, work-life balance ( Talukder et al., 2018 ), cognitive abilities, personality ( Kanfer and Kantrowitz, 2005 ), leadership, and family supportive supervisor behaviors ( Walumbwa et al., 2010 ; Wang et al., 2013 ; Kim et al., 2015 ). Although all these factors are important determinants, the current study argues that work-life balance and family supportive supervisor behavior are more important than employees’ involvement in every possible business activity of SMEs.

In the SME world, the working hours are different from those in larger firms. SMEs demand longer hours from employees. Therefore, it is difficult for employees to balance work and personal life. Some of the time, they also failed to maintain social and personal life due to high engagement and stress at work. The entanglements between work and family are a significant source of psychological discomfort for employees ( Cegarra-Leiva et al., 2012 ; Lamane-Harim et al., 2021 ). This could lead to job dissatisfaction and poor job performance. Hence, the employee turnover and the intention to quit. On the other hand, Haar et al. (2014) stated that WLB has a positive impact on one’s achievements, including performances. Similarly, increased job satisfaction impacts performance ( Luthans et al., 2007 ; Walumbwa et al., 2010 ). Positive job satisfaction will increase employee capacity, which, if appropriately managed, will have a good impact on the employee’s job performance ( Luthans et al., 2007 ).

However, in the competitive market, being a small team, the SMEs may not be able to afford to lose their skilled and knowledgeable employees as they are involved in product innovation and product sales. In order to facilitate work-life balance, SMEs indeed need to deploy the WLB’s supportive culture. Lamane-Harim et al. (2021) suggest that practices or the introduction of WLBSC could influence job satisfaction and organizational commitment. These factors ultimately determine employee performance in SMEs and their sustainability (e.g., Cuéllar-Molina et al., 2018 ). In the practices of WLBSC, family-supportive supervisor behaviors could play an important role, as family-supportive supervisor behaviors are expected to influence outcomes related to one’s performance ( Wang et al., 2013 ). In previous studies, supportive family supervisor behaviors were associated with job satisfaction and job performance ( Greenhaus et al., 2012 ; Wang et al., 2013 ; Heras et al., 2021 ). Past studies also suggest the mediating role of work-life balance supportive culture in SMEs. However, since the work-life balance supportive culture is a contextual factor and a new introduction into the working environment, it is expected to increase or decrease the extent of the relationship between work-life balance (WLB) and job satisfaction and the relationship between work-life balance (WLB) and job performance. It also raises the question of how moderation affects the existing relationship between work-life balance (WLB) and job satisfaction and the relationship between work-life balance (WLB) and job performance. However, past studies have not investigated the moderating role of family-supportive supervisor behaviors (e.g., Greenhaus et al., 2012 ; Wang et al., 2013 ; Heras et al., 2021 ; Lamane-Harim et al., 2021 ).

Past studies on work-life balance have primarily focused on large firms. Several other studies have recommended more studies of this topic in SMEs ( Lavoie, 2004 ; Cegarra-Leiva et al., 2012 ). Recently, Lamane-Harim et al. (2021) have researched work-life balance and WLBSC on Spanish SMEs. Furthermore, most research analyzing the relationships between WLBSC and employee outcome has been conducted in the United States. Moreover, national culture can also affect the intensity of the link between WLB practices and their effects on employee outcomes ( Spector et al., 2007 ; Poelmans et al., 2005 ; Cegarra-Leiva et al., 2012 ; Lucia-Casademunt et al., 2015 ; Ollier-Malaterre and Foucreault, 2017 ; Putnik et al., 2020 ; Kelley et al., 2021 ). Thus, the current study fills the research gap by examining the moderating role of family-supportive supervisor behaviors on the relationship between work-life balance (WLB) and job satisfaction and the relationship between work-life balance (WLB) and job performance. To fulfill these objectives, a review of the literature is carried out. The research hypotheses are developed, which are examined in an empirical study with a sample of employees of Indonesian SMEs in an industrial sector. The implications arising from the investigation are given in the final part. Henceforth, the current study will be beneficial to the SME sector in Indonesia alongside the literature.

Literature Review

Social exchange theory.

According to the Social Exchange Theory (SET) ( Blau, 1964 ), social exchange relationships rest on the norm of reciprocity ( Gouldner, 1960 ). The theory argues that when one party provides a benefit to another, the recipient tends to reciprocate the favor by offering benefits and favorable treatment to the first party ( Coyle-Shapiro and Shore, 2007 ). In an organizational behavior context, the social exchange theory is frequently used to explain the formation and maintenance of interpersonal relationships between employees and employers regarding reciprocation procedures ( Chen et al., 2005 ; Rawshdeh et al., 2019 ). The theory explains why employees choose to be less or more engaged in their jobs ( Lee and Veasna, 2013 ) and how the organizational support system influences subordinates’ creativity ( Amabile et al., 2004 ) and other positive behavior.

Past studies have argued that when management provides benefits to employees, employees tend to feel indebted to the organization and make more substantial efforts to ensure its well-being and achieve its goal ( Eisenberger et al., 2001 ; Vayre, 2019 ). Several studies found evidence in the work-life balance literature that when organizations or supervisors care about their employees’ personal and professional well-being, employees tend to reciprocate by helping them achieve their goals through improved performance ( Campo et al., 2021 ). Therefore, based on the social exchange theory, this study argues that when organizations take care of the balance between employees’ personal and professional lives, employees’ perceived positive feelings increase their job satisfaction, and they are more inclined to reciprocate the favor through high job performance ( Talukder et al., 2018 ). In such circumstances, the supervisor’s formal and informal support further increases employees’ perceived positive feelings toward the job and strengthens the relationship between work-life balance, job satisfaction, and job performance. We present a conceptual model in Figure 1 , which illustrates the expected causal relationship among study variables.

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Figure 1. Conceptual research model.

Job Performance

Employee job performance refers to an employee’s expertise in carrying out their duties in a way that helps the organization achieve its goals ( Luthans et al., 2007 , 2008 ; Nohe et al., 2014 ; Moonsri, 2018 ). It is also defined as an individual’s productivity compared to their coworkers on a variety of job-related behaviors and results ( Babin and Boles, 1998 ; Aeknarajindawat and Jermsittiparsert, 2020 ). Performance is determined by the quality and quantity of work completed as part of an employee’s assigned responsibilities. Employee performance directly influences an organization’s financial and non-financial outcomes ( Anitha, 2014 ). Thus, organizations need high-performing employees to achieve their corporate goals, vision, and mission and gain a competitive advantage ( Thevanes and Mangaleswaran, 2018 ).

A business must have a persistent competitive advantage in the SME context with many competitors to compete with other companies in the same industry. While job stress has been shown to have a significant negative impact on employee performance, work overload, lack of work-life balance, management style, and job insecurity are some of the factors that contribute to increased job stress ( Naqvi et al., 2013 ). Since SMEs need employees to work longer hours, it is possible that SMEs’ employees lack a healthy balance between work and family life, thereby impacting their job performance. Organizations are increasingly focusing on implementing a variety of HR practices and strategies, including work-life balance, on increasing employee job performance, as work-life balance is seen as one of the most important factors influencing job performance ( Thevanes and Mangaleswaran, 2018 ). Previous research found ample evidence that work-life balance is essential to increasing employee job performance ( Preena, 2021 ). Therefore, the role of work-life in influencing SME employees’ job performance should be determined to ensure the industry’s survival.

Work-Life Balance, Job Satisfaction, and Job Performance

Work-life balance refers to balancing one’s professional work, family responsibilities, and other personal activities ( Keelan, 2015 ; Kerdpitak and Jermsittiparsert, 2020 ). It refers to an employee’s sense of a balance between work and personal life ( Haar et al., 2014 ). It represents how people fulfill or should fulfill their business and personal obligations so that an overlapping situation is avoided ( Konrad and Mangel, 2000 ). The changing work patterns and the pressing demand for domestic chores have had an adverse impact on people’s work, social, and family lives ( Barling and Macewen, 1992 ). Therefore, researchers suggested that the human resource management of an organization should develop effective policies such as adequate mentoring, support, flexible working hours, reducing workload, and many others that can reduce employees’ work-life conflict ( Cegarra-Leiva et al., 2012 ) and positively influence their satisfaction ( Allen et al., 2020 ) and performance ( Hughes and Bozionelos, 2007 ).

Work-life balance is one of the most important issues that human resource management should address in organizations ( Abdirahman et al., 2020 ). Regardless of their size, organizations should ensure that employees have adequate time to fulfill their family and work commitments ( Abdirahman et al., 2020 ). A flexible working environment allows employees to balance personal and professional responsibilities ( Redmond et al., 2006 ). Organizations that ignore the issue of work-life balance suffer from reduced productivity and employee performance ( Naithani, 2010 ). Indeed, employees with a healthy work-life balance are generally grateful to their employers ( Roberts, 2008 ). As a result, they put forth their best effort for the company as a gesture of gratitude, resulting in improved job performance ( Ryan and Kossek, 2008 ). Thus, a high work-life balance employee could be highly productive and an excellent performer ( French et al., 2020 ). Thus, based on these discussions and research findings, we developed the following hypothesis:

Hypothesis 1: Work-life balance has a positive effect on job performance.

Previous researchers have argued that satisfaction and success in family life can lead to success and satisfaction at work Victoria et al. (2019) . Employees who are pleased with their personal and professional achievements are more likely to achieve the organizational goal ( Dousin et al., 2019 ). While the work-life conflict has been shown to have a negative impact on employee job performance and satisfaction ( Dousin et al., 2019 ), work-life balance has been found to improve employee satisfaction and job performance in various industries and countries ( Mendis and Weerakkody, 2017 ; Thevanes and Mangaleswaran, 2018 ; Victoria et al., 2019 ; Obrenovic et al., 2020 ; Rini et al., 2020 ; Preena, 2021 ). It is documented that medical doctors’ job satisfaction and performance are influenced by their perceptions of flexible working hours and supportive supervision ( Dousin et al., 2019 ). Besides, there is ample empirical evidence that job satisfaction can positively influence employee job performance ( Krishnan et al., 2018 ; Zhao et al., 2019 ; Abdirahman et al., 2020 ). Based on the above research findings, the following hypotheses have been developed:

Hypothesis 2: Work-life balance has a positive effect on job satisfaction.

Hypothesis 3: Job satisfaction has a positive influence on job performance

Job satisfaction refers to the positive attitude felt by an employee toward the company where they work ( Luthans et al., 2007 ; Tschopp et al., 2014 ). It combines cognitive and affective responses to the disparity between what an employee wants and what they get ( Cranny et al., 1992 ). Previous research has often linked a person’s job satisfaction with their behavior at work ( Crede et al., 2007 ). It is argued that employees would be more committed to their jobs if they found them satisfying and enjoyable ( Noah and Steve, 2012 ). Employee job satisfaction is influenced by an organization’s commitment to work-life balance, and satisfied employees are more likely to invest their time and effort in the development of the organization ( Dousin et al., 2019 ) in exchange for the support they received ( Krishnan et al., 2018 ; Abdirahman et al., 2020 ). Previous research found that employee work-life balance increases employee job performance by positively influencing psychological well-being ( Haider et al., 2017 ). Dousin et al. (2019) found that job satisfaction mediates the relationship between employee work-life balance and job performance in a medical context. Since work-life balance has been seen as an influencer of job satisfaction ( Victoria et al., 2019 ) and job satisfaction influences employee job performance ( Dormann and Zapf, 2001 ; Saari and Judge, 2004 ; Crede et al., 2007 ; Luthans et al., 2007 ; Tschopp et al., 2014 ; Krishnan et al., 2018 ; Zhao et al., 2019 ; Abdirahman et al., 2020 ). Thus, based on the above research findings, this study offers the following hypothesis:

H4: Job satisfaction significantly mediates the relationship between work-life balance and job performance.

Family Supportive Supervisor Behaviors

Hammer et al. (2009) define family-supportive supervisor behaviors (FSSB) as the emotional, instrumental, role-modeling, and creative work-family management supportive behaviors that the supervisors provide to ensure employee effectiveness and satisfaction on and off the job. It refers to an employee’s perception of their supervisor’s positive attitude toward them ( Clark et al., 2017 ). Supervisory support could be formal or informal ( Achour et al., 2020 ). It is critical in developing flexible work arrangements ( Suriana et al., 2021 ).

Supervisory supportive behavior is very important for ensuring work-life balance and achieving organizational goals. It has been shown to reduce work-family spillover ( García-Cabrera et al., 2018 ) by increasing employee job satisfaction autonomy and reducing work pressure ( Marescaux et al., 2020 ). The flexibility and independence generated by FSSB help to reduce work-family conflict ( Greenhaus et al., 2012 ) by increasing employees’ control over their work ( Marescaux et al., 2020 ) and allowing them to strike a balance between their work and family life ( Heras et al., 2021 ). Employees who believe their managers care about their personal and professional lives are more likely to improve their performance and meet supervisory objectives ( Rofcanin et al., 2018 ). In a university-based study, Achour et al. (2020) showed how supervisory support positively moderates the relationship between a female academic’s work-family demands and perceived well-being. Kim et al. (2017) show that supervisory support can strengthen the relationship between deep acting and job performance, exacerbating the negative relationship between surface acting and job performance. Therefore, this study argues that, in an organization, when work-life balance is valued, supervisory support might influence employees’ positive perception, and the effect of work-life balance strategies and job satisfaction on job performance will be greater.

Hypothesis 5: Family-supportive supervisor behaviors will strengthen the positive effect of work-life balance on job performance.

Hypothesis 6: Family-supportive supervisor behaviors will strengthen the positive effect of job satisfaction on job performance.

Methods and Results

The current study has adopted a quantitative approach to determine the causal relationship of a phenomenon or problem-solving understudy to see how far the influence of exogenous variables extends to endogenous variables. The current study has also developed and distributed structured questionnaires to around 600 employees who work in SMEs in Indonesia.

To obtain and collect data, the study employed a non-probability method, namely purposive sampling. Purposive sampling is limited to certain types of people who can provide the desired information, maybe because they are the only ones who have it, or perhaps they fit the criteria set by the researcher ( Sekaran and Bougie, 2017 ). The selected sample is employees who work in SMEs that already have an employee recruitment system, have supervisors, and are married. The sample size was taken as many as 400 samples with consideration of the adequacy of the sample statistically to get a power of 0.8 with an alpha of 0.05. The sample was repeated at least five times until 20 items were observed ( Hair et al., 2015 ). The demographic profile of the respondents is presented in Table 1 . The majority of the respondents were male (57%), aged 26–35 (50.5%), had one child (30%), were senior high school graduates (42.5%), and had 2 to 10 years of experience (43.2%). Furthermore, measurements and variables are presented in Table 2 . The construct measurement items are reflective in nature.

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Table 1. Characteristics of respondents.

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Table 2. Summary for convergent validity and internal consistency reliability.

Empirical Estimations and Results

We employ the Partial Least Square (PLS) method to test hypotheses, considering variables’ direct, indirect, and total effects. PLS was chosen because the method of solving structural equation modeling (SEM) with PLS, which in this case fits the research objectives, is more appropriate than other SEM techniques. PLS is an analytical method that is not based on many assumptions ( Hair et al., 2015 ). Finally, we employ PLS-SEM because of its applicability and effectiveness in both exploratory and confirmatory research and prediction ( Chin and Dibbern, 2010 ; Ringle et al., 2012 ). To cope with missing values, we consider the mean replacement strategy ( Wesarat et al., 2018 ). The parameters of the measurement and structural models are computed in accordance with the recommendations of Hair et al. (2014) . Hypothesis testing is done by looking at the p -value generated by the inner model. This test is carried out by operating bootstrapping on the SmartPLS 3.0 program to obtain the relationship between exogenous and endogenous variables.

Measurement Model Evaluation

The measurement model has been evaluated in this study based on internal consistency, construct validity, and instrument reliability. The composite reliability can be used to assess the reliability of a variable’s indicators. With its indicators, there is a latent loading factor value. The loading factor is the path coefficient that connects the latent variable to the indicator. If an indicator has a composite reliability value greater than 0.6, it can fulfill reliability requirements. Cronbach’s alpha needs to be taken into account in the reliability test using the composite reliability approach. If a value has a Cronbach’s alpha value better than 0.7, it is deemed to be consistent ( Hair et al., 2014 ). Convergent validity testing reveals the average variance extracted value (AVE), which should be greater than 0.6 Hair et al. (2014) . The discriminant validity test is carried out by examining the value of the cross-loading factor and the criterion of the heterotrait-monotrait correlation ratio (HTMT). The HTMT ratio should not exceed 0.85 ( Henseler et al., 2015 ). Finally, the multi-collinearity test focuses on determining if there is a relationship between exogenous variables. The tolerance and variance inflation factor (VIF) values are used to analyze the extent of collinearity. A VIF value of less than 10 indicates the presence of a collinearity-free indicator. Multi-collinearity is not an issue in our study as we used reflective measuring items.

The results of convergent validity and composite reliability are presented in Table 2 . We have observed that Cronbach’s alpha values for the construct lie between 0.820 and 0.907, which are above the cut-off value of 0.6, and all latent variables had Cronbach’s alpha values above 0.7. So, it can be concluded that the construct of our study has met the reliability criteria. Additionally, the indicator loadings range between 0.709 and 0.918, which has been presented in Figure 2 , suggesting good content validity. Furthermore, the AVE value of our study variable is more than 0.50, indicating that convergent validity has been established. Furthermore, the results of discriminant validity are presented in Table 3 . From the Fornell-Lacker Criterion in Panel A of Table 3 , we noted the square roots of the AVE values (bold) are higher than the latent construct correlation. We also found that the HTMT ratio in Panel B of Table 3 between variables was less than 0.85. Henceforth, the Fornell-Lacker Criterion and HTMT ratio indicates the discriminant validity of the construct. In panel C of Table 3 , the correlation between constructs is less than 0.90, showing no multicollinearity issue in the model ( Pallant, 2011 ; Hair et al., 2013 ).

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Figure 2. Result of structural model.

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Table 3. Discriminant validity and latent variable correlation.

Structural Model Evaluation

Once the measurement model had met all the thresholds, the next step was to test the structural model. The r-square (reliability indicator) for endogenous components can be used to evaluate the structural model. The goal of variance analysis (R2) is to identify how exogenous variables affect endogenous variables. Figure 2 shows that R 2 of 0.44 of job performance indicates that work-life balance, family-supportive supervisor behaviors, and job satisfaction explain 44 percent of the job performance variable, while the remaining 56 percent is explained by outside factors. Job satisfaction’s R 2 of 0.304 indicates that work-life balance, family-supportive supervisor behaviors, and job performance explain 30.4 percent of the job satisfaction variable. In contrast, the remaining 69.6 percent is explained by components other than those explored in this study. The R 2 of the endogenous variables job performance and job satisfaction in our study model is greater than 20%, indicating a good model ( Hair et al., 2014 ).

Hypothesis Testing

For Hypothesis testing, resampling with bootstrapping can be used to compute the statistical t value. This study considered 5,000 sub-sample for bootstrapping and a two-tail significance level with biased correction. The empirical results for hypothesis testing are presented in Figure 2 and Table 4 . Our hypotheses are supported by the empirical results at the significance level of 5%.

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Table 4. Results for direct effects, mediating effect, and moderating effect.

Conclusion and Discussion

Theoretical implications.

Employees who have a poor work-life balance suffer from reduced productivity and low employee performance ( Naithani, 2010 ). In contrast, employees with a healthy work-life balance have improved job performance ( Roberts, 2008 ; Ryan and Kossek, 2008 ). In this regard, our findings demonstrate that the direct effect of work-life balance on job performance is significant with a coefficient of 0.152 (T-statistic of 3.007), suggesting a positive relationship between work-life balance and job performance. These empirical results also suggest that the employee’s job performance will also increase with a higher work-life balance. The respondents in the study also commented on their readiness to be flexible at work when needed, and they underlined that they are not ready to sacrifice their personal lives for work. Thus, the empirical findings lend strong support to our hypothesis H1. Our results are in line with the social exchange theory that a balanced proportion of time given by an employee to work-life and life-outside of work will make the employee more productive ( Brough et al., 2008 ; Roberts, 2008 ; Ryan and Kossek, 2008 ; Hofmann and Stokburger-Sauer, 2017 ). In support of the WLB and performance nexus, French et al. (2020) and Haar et al. (2014) stated that a high work-life balance also makes individuals yield to their higher job performance. Therefore, SMEs need to create a work-life balance supportive culture in the organization in order to bring out employees’ best performances, which could lead to better firm performance. The fact is that the entanglements between work and family are a significant source of psychological discomfort for employees ( Cegarra-Leiva et al., 2012 ), which causes poor performance. Additionally, Lamane-Harim et al. (2021) suggested that WLB could lead to better employee outcomes in Spanish SMEs. As a result, both employees and employers must work together to foster a work-life balance-supportive culture in the organization, which is especially difficult in the SME sector.

According to Victoria et al. (2019) , satisfied and prosperous family life could lead to success and satisfaction at work. Therefore, the importance of work-life in employee job satisfaction is indicated in the literature ( Dousin et al., 2019 ). Concerning that affirmation, this study’s evidence demonstrates that the effect of work-life balance on job satisfaction is significant with a coefficient of 0.187 (with a T-statistic value of 2.95), which is indicative of a positive relationship between work-life balance and job satisfaction. This finding implies that with a higher work-life balance, the job satisfaction of employees will also increase. Henceforth, the current results are strongly supported by hypothesis H2. These findings are in line with Haar et al. (2014) ; Dousin et al. (2019) , and many others. Their studies also found that work-life balance has a positive effect on job satisfaction; namely, the higher the work-life balance, the higher the job satisfaction of employees. Flexible working hours, given autonomy, and company policies that support the creation of a balance between work and personal life will lead to higher job satisfaction ( French et al., 2020 ). Feeney and Stritch (2019) stated that family-friendly policies and a culture of family support are essential in generating a healthy work climate. Henceforth, job satisfaction will increase. Additionally, creating a family-supporting culture, flexible working hours, and autonomy could not be done in the SME industry as the working environment is different from that of large organizations. However, suppose SMEs take the initiative to create some sort of flexible working hours and give some autonomy depending on their position inside the company. In that case, the employees could be more satisfied, especially if the primary intention is to increase employee productivity and performance. In support of this statement, our findings have found a positive influence of job satisfaction on job performance.

Job satisfaction and job performance are widely studied relationships in HRM and organizational contexts. Most studies have discovered a positive relationship between job satisfaction and job performance ( Dormann and Zapf, 2001 ; Saari and Judge, 2004 ; Crede et al., 2007 ; Luthans et al., 2007 ; Tschopp et al., 2014 ; Krishnan et al., 2018 ; Jermsittiparsert et al., 2019 ; Zhao et al., 2019 ; Abdirahman et al., 2020 ). As expected, in the current context of the study, we also found that the effect of job satisfaction on job performance is significant, with a coefficient of 0.401 (with a T-statistic value of 7.761). Hence, the current empirical findings lend strong support to H3 that job satisfaction will increase job performance. Therefore, in line with the extant studies, we also argue that SMEs should attempt to keep employees satisfied with their jobs so they can generate their best performance. The organizational theory suggests that perceived job satisfaction makes employees more committed toward their jobs, hence better output. In the SME case, work–life balance and a supportive culture could play an important role in making employees more committed and satisfied, which will increase job performance. Our hypothesis rectifies this assertation that H3 work-life balance has positive effects on job satisfaction.

In their study, Haider et al. (2017) have discussed how work-life balance increases employee job performance via influencing psychological well-being. Job satisfaction is one of the main components of psychological well-being at the workplace. Therefore, on the mediating role of job satisfaction, our findings demonstrate that the relationship between work-life balance and job performance is mediated by job satisfaction (with a coefficient of 0.075 and a T-statistic value of 2.64). Since there is a direct relationship between work-life balance and job performance, it can be concluded that the mediation is a partial mediation rather than a full one. Thus, our hypothesis H4 is accepted. The current empirical findings also support the past empirical studies, as Dousin et al. (2019) found the mediation role of job satisfaction between employee work-life balance and job performance in a medical context. Hence, our findings imply that work-life balance improves job performance by increasing job satisfaction.

Family supportive supervisor behaviors (FSSB) in the organization are about work-family spillover ( García-Cabrera et al., 2018 ) by boosting employee job satisfaction autonomy and minimizing work pressure ( Marescaux et al., 2020 ). Hence, it has been able to increase job satisfaction and performance. In this regard, although we do not hypothesize the direct effect of family-supportive supervisor behaviors, our findings confirm that FSSB positively influences job satisfaction and performance. Therefore, the existence of FSSB is essential to improve employees’ job satisfaction and job performance. Hence, these findings agree with the past studies that present a positive influence of FSSB on job satisfaction and job performance ( Rofcanin et al., 2018 ; Talukder et al., 2018 ; Campo et al., 2021 ). Henceforth, these findings confirm the assertion of social exchange theory and organizational support theory that supervisors’ formal and informal support further increase employees’ attitude toward the job, which improves job satisfaction and job performance ( Talukder et al., 2018 ).

Furthermore, our empirical results indicate that the interaction between FSSB and work-life balance positively affects job performance (with a coefficient of 0.235 and a t-statistic of 5.04). These findings suggest that when FSSB interacts with work-life balance, it attenuates the link between work-life balance and job satisfaction and job performance. As a result, the current findings provide significant support for our hypothesis H5. Kim et al. (2017) discovered that supervisory support could increase the link between deep acting and work performance. On the other hand, Alias (2021) suggest that supervisory support cannot moderate the relationship between flexible work arrangements and employee performance. Our findings, however, offer evidence that contradicts the assertion of Alias (2021) , in which we demonstrated that there could be moderating effects on the relationship between work-life balance and job performance. Hence, our finding adds novel evidence in the area of work-life balance and job performance. Again, these findings reinforce the need for a work–life balance supportive culture in the organization, as it could facilitate supervisory actions to a certain degree in supporting employees’ family and personal life.

Based on hypothesis H5, we concurred on the moderating impact of FSSB on the link between job satisfaction and job performance. We evaluated the moderating influence of FSSB on this relationship. The current study’s empirical findings indicate that the interaction effects of FSSB and work satisfaction on job performance are relatively positive (with a coefficient of 0.206 and a t-statistic of 3.25). These findings suggest that when FSSB interacts with work-life balance and job satisfaction, it moderates the link between work-life balance and job satisfaction and job performance. Hence, the current empirical results verify our claim and offer substantial support for Hypothesis H6. The interaction effects are reasonably sensible in that when employees are satisfied and believe that they will receive the required support from their boss while coping with family or personal concerns. As a result, when the level of belief and job satisfaction rises, so does the level of job commitment and engagement, resulting in higher job performance. In this regard, the current study contributes to the body of evidence on the FSSB’s moderating effects on job satisfaction and performance.

Practical Implications

In support of the WLB-performance nexus, several studies have indicated that an excellent work balance also leads to more extraordinary job performance. Thus, SMEs must foster a work–life balance-friendly culture to bring out the best in their employees, which may contribute to improved business/firm performance. In reality, the entanglements between work and family are a major source of psychological distress for employees, resulting in poor performance. Henceforth, the implementation of various WLB practices is suggested for Indonesian SMEs, particularly those not required by regulation or legal minimum to fulfill the needs of all employees. Furthermore, we also recommend that firms should provide separate WLB practice alternatives for men and women because the impacts of WLB on job satisfaction are varied, as suggested by Lamane-Harim et al. (2021) . Furthermore, family-supportive supervisor behaviors are important for promoting employees’ performance. Therefore, firms and supervisors provide some support to employees to handle and overcome family-related issues. In this regard, our findings emphasized the need to establish a work–life balance supportive culture in the firm as it might assist supervisory activities in supporting workers’ family and personal life to a different extent. In addition, managers may gain useful knowledge to create efficient job systems to improve job performance in SMEs, taking into account the relevance of work-life balance, family supportive supervisor behaviors, and job satisfaction. Individuals in SMEs can increase job performance by balancing their work and personal life. The impact of SMEs on employee work-life balance and performance is a fascinating topic. As a result, work-life balance will have a bigger impact on the organization’s overall performance.

Limitation and Future Research

We propose that this research be expanded into a longitudinal study in the future, providing a greater grasp of the issue. However, the findings may not be generalizable, and the results must be interpreted in light of the evolving context and economic conditions in which the study was done. Additionally, future studies should look into religiosity as a moderator of the relationship between WLB and job satisfaction and performance. It’s important to think about becoming a moderator since employees who have a strong understanding of religion and put it into practice have a good sense of self-control. It could have a different effect when attempting to explain the link between work-life balance and job performance. Stress and anxiety are one of the most essential factors to consider when attempting to explain the link between WLB and job performance. Many employees may feel stressed and anxious about their professional and personal development while working in SMEs. As a result, as moderators in this association, it may be an important aspect to investigate in future research. Finally, future research should look at deviant behavior as a result of work-life balance and job satisfaction. Employees with a poor work-life balance and dissatisfaction are more likely to engage in deviant behavior.

Data Availability Statement

Data will be provided by the first author upon request.

Author Contributions

All authors listed have made a substantial, direct, and intellectual contribution to the work, and approved it for publication.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher’s Note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

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Keywords : work-life balance, job satisfaction, job performance, family-supportive supervisor behaviors, Indonesia

Citation: Susanto P, Hoque ME, Jannat T, Emely B, Zona MA and Islam MA (2022) Work-Life Balance, Job Satisfaction, and Job Performance of SMEs Employees: The Moderating Role of Family-Supportive Supervisor Behaviors. Front. Psychol. 13:906876. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.906876

Received: 29 March 2022; Accepted: 27 April 2022; Published: 21 June 2022.

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Copyright © 2022 Susanto, Hoque, Jannat, Emely, Zona and Islam. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Mohammad Enamul Hoque, [email protected]

† These authors have contributed equally to this work and share first authorship

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  • Published: 04 September 2021

Employee motivation and job performance: a study of basic school teachers in Ghana

  • Joseph Ato Forson   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-5997-5713 1 ,
  • Eric Ofosu-Dwamena 2 ,
  • Rosemary Afrakomah Opoku 3 &
  • Samuel Evergreen Adjavon   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-2713-3327 4  

Future Business Journal volume  7 , Article number:  30 ( 2021 ) Cite this article

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Motivation as a meaningful construct is a desire to satisfy a certain want and is a central pillar at the workplace. Thus, motivating employees adequately is a challenge as it has what it takes to define employee satisfaction at the workplace. In this study, we examine the relationship between job motivation factors and performance among teachers of basic schools in Ghana. The study employs a quantitative approach on a sample of 254 teachers from a population of 678 in the Effutu Municipality of Ghana, of which 159 questionnaires were duly answered and returned (representing 62.6% return rate). Using multiple regression and ANOVA, the study finds compensation package, job design and environment and performance management system as significant factors in determining teacher’s motivation in the municipality. Thus, these motivation factors were significant predictors on performance when regressed at a decomposed and aggregated levels. These findings support the self-determination theory, more specifically on the explanations advanced under the controlled and autonomous motivation factors. Significant differences were also observed in teachers’ performance among one of the age cohorts. The study urges the municipal directorate of education to make more room for young teacher trainees and interns who are at the formative stage of their careers to be engaged to augment the experienced staff strength. More should be done to make the profession attain some level of autonomy in the discharge of duty to breed the next genre of innovative educators in the municipality.

Introduction

Motivation as a meaningful construct is a central pillar at the workplace. Thus, motivating employees adequately is a challenge as it has what it takes to define employee satisfaction at the workplace. Quite a number of studies have been devoted to the link between motivation and its constituent factors and employee performance in different organizations [ 7 , 46 ]. Our study draws inspiration from the self-determination theory (SDT) advanced by Deci et al. [ 14 ] as a framework that can be applied to teachers motivation and performance in basic schools in Ghana. It is worth noting that SDT differentiates between controlled motivation and autonomous motivation. The latter is evident when individuals are faced with pressure and control. The former on the other hand emphasizes on the volitional nature of the behavior of individuals. The SDT provides evidence that suggests that motivation fuels performance [ 14 , 57 ].

In Ghana, the subject of motivation has always been at the apex of national agenda and is evident in the number of strike actions in the public service. In the early part of the 2000s, teachers were part of the public servants whose agitation for improved condition of service did not go unnoticed. Forson and Opoku [ 16 ] had stated that teachers’ emolument accounted for less than 35% of the public service wage bill although teachers were perceived to be in the majority in terms of numbers. This phenomenon did spark a wave of attrition of trained teachers to other sectors of the Ghanaian economy. The teaching profession as a matter of fact became a launched pad for the youth. It should be said that the nature of the school setting is basically a function of internal management and leadership. The head teacher or director of education as the Chief Executive needs to appreciate and recognize that results can be obtained through people. In today’s world, organizations are concerned with what should be done to achieve sustained high level of performance through people who are innovative thinkers [ 4 , 17 , 41 ]. These include paying more attention to how individuals can best be motivated and provision of an atmosphere that helps individuals to deliver on their mandates in accordance with the expectations of management [ 25 ]. This means that an educational manager or an individual engaged as a teacher cannot do this job without knowing what motivates people. The building of motivating factors into organizational roles and the entire process of leading people should be contingent on knowledge of motivation. Koontz and Weinrich [ 25 ] agree that the educational managers’ job is not to manipulate people but rather to recognize what motivates people.

A national debate ensued on the significant role played by teachers in nation building and the need to address the shortfall in the condition of service of teachers to motivate them to perform. Wider consultative meetings were held with stakeholders in the teaching fraternity and the outcome and the panacea was the introduction of a uniform pay structure based on qualification. The legislative arm of government passed Act 737 in 2007 that saw the birth of the Fair Wages Salary Commission (FWSC). The mandate of the commission was to ensure a fair and systematic implementation of government pay policy [ 18 ]. Although this has stabilized the teaching profession in terms of the level of attrition, concerns on how this inducement translate into teacher’s performance seem to dominate national discourse especially in the face of fallen standard of education in Ghana. Such concerns have raised questions such as the following: (1) Does pay rise correlate with performance? (2) Are there other factors that ought to be considered in the nexus between motivation and performance? (3) Are there any significant differences in the level of performance among various age cohorts (4) Do educational background motivate teachers to perform better? These and other questions are addressed in this study.

The objective of this paper is to examine the link between job motivation factors and performance among basic school teachers in Ghana. This is against the backdrop that teachers have for some time now complained about condition of service and with the passage of FWSC bill, one would have thought that would have impacted on performance of teachers as it has been proven that motivation leads to satisfaction and ultimately to high performance. The standard of education continues to be a major concern in the educational setup of Ghana.

We organize the paper as follows: section one is the introduction that sets the tone for the paper. The problem is defined in this section, and the necessary questions that warrant redress are asked. We continue with a brief literature review on the concept of motivation, leading to the development of a conceptual framework and hypothesis based on the self-determination theory (SDT). Section two focuses on the method deployed, with emphasis on the aim, design and setting of the study. The theoretical equation for the multiple regression is brought to the fore here. Section three is the results and discussion, and section four concludes with policy implications.

The concept of motivation and self-determination theory (SDT)

Maslow [ 33 ] is credited for being part of the early contributors of human motivation concept. Maslow classifies human needs that motivate them into two: (1) homeostasis and (2) finding that appetites (preferential choices among foods). The former refers to the body’s automatic efforts to maintain a constant, normal state of the blood stream. The latter concept, on the other hand, is of the view that if the body lacks some chemical, the individual will tend (in an imperfect way) to develop a specific appetite or partial hunger for that missing food element. Thus, Maslow was of the view that any of the physiological needs and the consummatory behavior involved with them serve as channels for all sorts of other needs. Relating this assertion to teachers and the need for a salary pay rise, it should be pointed out that a person who thinks he is hungry may actually be seeking more for comfort, or dependence and managers in the educational sector ought to know this. Contemporary researches have expanded on the theory of motivation as advanced by Maslow [ 33 , 34 ]. For an organization to thrive and be efficient, certain conditions ought to be available in order for managers to get the best out of its human resources (workers/employees). Employees of an organization are the greatest asset in a dynamic and competitive environment [ 49 ]. In the words of Martin [ 32 ], if an organization wants to be effective and aims to sustain the success for a longer period of time, it is important for it to have a motivated workforce made up of employees ready to learn. The last three decades have witnessed an avalanche of studies that emphasizes on the point that employee motivation is essential for the success of a business [ 2 ].

In exploring further on this connection, Mifflin [ 35 ] delved into the fundamental meaning of the word “motivation” and pointed out that it is a Latin word which means to move. Therefore, it is near impossible to move peoples’ behavior in an organization unless such move is triggered by certain incentives. Robins and Coulter [ 49 ] explained the term motivation as the desire and willingness to exert high level of inspiration to reach organizational goals, conditioned by the efforts ability to satisfy some individual need. In this study, we define motivation simply as the act of moving people triggered by the provision of some incentives to achieve a desired goal.

In the words of Deci and Ryan [ 13 ], the SDT focuses on human beings inherent desire to bring change and progress as they advance to their fullest potential. Several studies have applied the SDT in various research areas that includes education, medicine and other organizational context. The SDT is of the view that individuals are by nature active entities who will do everything possible to be integrated into the wider social environment in an attempt to be responsive to the behavior consistent with existing self. The theory according to Trépanier et al. [ 57 ] defines social context as the workplace which facilitate or frustrate ones striving toward self-determination.

The SDT theory has two major forms of motivation which may be differentiated on the basis of its nature and quality according to Howard et al. [ 22 ]. When employees engage in interesting activities or in pursuance of their needs, such a form of motivation is ascribed as autonomous motivation. Such a form of motivation facilitates employees’ vitality and energy including satisfaction and well-being [ 14 ]. When employees engage in activities out of pressure as a result of external factors such as attaining rewards including threat of being punished, or even endogenous sources of such pressure as maintaining self-esteem, want of approval, image management or avoiding guilt, such a form of motivation can be ascribed as controlled motivation. Gillet et al. [ 20 ] explain that people with controlled motivational behavior do so out of reason as long as these contingencies exist and thus it predicts maladaptive work outcomes (e.g., exhaustion of personal energy) and turnover intentions.

SDT and job performance

According to Motowildo et al. [ 38 ], job performance is a construct that elicits behavior related to achievement with evaluative components. Most studies on this relationship have emphasized on the role of autonomous and intrinsic motivation on performance with the argument that individuals autonomously motivated have certain inherent values and behaviors and thus give off optimal performance. The theory of self-determination explains that autonomous motivation should be the necessary ingredient for better performance. That is, when individuals are better informed about the purpose of their job and have a sense of ownership and the degree of freedom to operate (autonomy), the possibility of they performing better at work may be high. The source of such motivation according to Deci et al. [ 14 ] may be from one’s interest and values. It is purpose-driven, amplifies energy, enjoyable and provides enough rationalization for tasks to be accomplished effectively. Moreover, the intrinsic component of autonomous motivation has been linked with job performance in related literature and types of performance [ 7 ].

Empirically, there are evidence to suggest that autonomous motivation is linked with performance. Evidence pertaining to controlled motivation is less dispositive. Proponents of the SDT have argued that controlled motivation (e.g., performance management systems) could reduce employee functioning because action derived from personal values and interest may be disconnected, therefore leading to negative effects on performance [ 48 ]. Counter argument posits that controlled motivation may foster employee willingness to complete tasks in an attempt to avoid guilt or punishment or to earn external reward which may come in the form of compensation package [ 27 ]. In this study, we focus on both the controlled and autonomous motivational factors. More specifically, we focus on Herzberg et al. [ 21 ] motivators validated by Harvard Business Review in 2003 which were made up of two motivators: (1) intrinsic factors such as achievement, recognition for achievement, the work itself, growth, responsibility and advancement, and (2) extrinsic factors such as supervision, working conditions, payment, interpersonal relationship, appreciation and company policy. Therefore, the bundle of motivators used in this study are similar to the aforementioned ones and may include performance management systems, external rewards that come in the form of compensation packages, job environment and training and development [ 30 ]. We explain these constructs further with the empirical evidence leading to the development of the conceptual framework.

  • Compensation package

Rasheed et al. [ 44 ] posit that package of compensation offered to teachers in institutions of higher learning has to be made based on several factors that may include the experience that underpins the abilities of the teacher, qualifications and perhaps market rates. This is supported by Bohlander et al. [ 6 ] who argued that teachers compensation ought to be the most central concern for managers and administrators of schools in stimulating them. Most of these research studies are premised on the fact that compensation should be designed to meet the needs of teachers and has be fashioned in the form of tangible rewards. In corroborating this assertion, Marlow et al. [ 31 ] observed that low condition of service defined by salary creates stress among teachers in schools. Thus, teachers’ condition of service should be market competitive in order to get higher motivation and to maintain them. Other studies have found that salary levels have been the main challenge for education managers and are the reason for the high attrition and that education planners and managers should pay attention to the design of compensation packages.

Job design and working environment

The needs of teachers on the job ought to be planned properly. The workload on teachers should not be such that it will de-motivate [ 44 ], p. 103. Teachers at all levels should have a learning environment, and educational administrators should make a point to treat existing human resource (teachers) with maximum respect devoid of any discrimination.

Nowadays, job design is the central focus of managers and human resource researchers. Thus, a well-designed job has what it takes in getting interest of employees. On the contrary, poorly designed job breeds boredom among employees. Davidson [ 12 ] makes an important observation and remarked in his research that when teachers are overloaded and burdened with so many non-teaching activities, it portends as a hindrance in the job design. Other scholars such as Clarke and Keating [ 9 ] have argued that the working environment of an educational institution affects teachers’ motivation. Clarke and Keating [ 9 ] found students to be the main reason why teachers are motivated in schools. His emphasis was on talented and hardworking students who boost the morale of teachers. Students who do not produce the desired results, on the other hand, de-motivate teachers. Moreover, class size is another important consideration in motivating teachers. Other variants of the job design and environment are captured in Ofoegbu [ 39 ] research in which he argued that institutions provide support in the form of resources to the teachers in the form of computers with Internet connections. Moreover, other factors such as the provision of e-libraries and research equipment, and other logistics for students may also serve as an effective motivator for teachers.

Performance management system

Management of teachers and educational administrators in all levels of education should focus on implementing basic performance management systems to continually appraise teachers’ accomplishments. For instance, the use of a so-called 360-degree feedback system is important where students’ feedback is attended to with the attention it deserves.

Stafyarakis [ 53 ] corroborated this and asserted that ‘Annual Confidential Reports’ have become obsolete. Yet there has been an emergence of a scientific approach on the field of performance management as time goes on. In discussing this further, Milliman [ 37 ] is of the view that although there are many practices available in this field, but a performance management system based on 360-degree feedback approach is the most effective.

Contrary to the norm that teachers are most motivated by the intrinsic factors and least motivated by the monetary aspects of teaching, Rao [ 43 ] demonstrates that poor appraisal systems, lack of recognition and lack of respect from the head and other co-workers are some common reasons of distress and de-motivation among teachers in educational institutions. The lack of recognition from supervisors is one of the many reasons why teachers would want to leave the teaching profession Stafyarakis [ 53 ].

Moreover, Rasheed et al. [ 45 ] points out that teachers are much concerned about students’ feedback; hence, feedback from the students should be given a proper weightage and in appraising and managing teachers’ performance in the institutions of higher education. Jordan [ 23 ] stressed that the feedback of students is a major issue of that motivates teachers and therefore teachers should be given feedback from their students in scientific manners.

Training and development

It is of significance that educational administrators focus on training activities as an essential means of both motivating employees and sustaining the survival of that organization according to Photanan [ 42 ] and Bohlander et al. [ 6 ]. Leslie [ 28 ] identified professional growth as basic motivator for teachers. He stressed that the professional learning platform available to a teacher is the basic path of his/her career development [ 29 ].

Conceptual framework and hypothesis development

In this section, the study harmonizes the components of the SDT theory into a conceptual framework on motivation and performance connection. The framework developed in this research may be useful as a guide by academicians and practitioners in understanding the mechanisms through which motivational factors affect job performance among teachers in the Effutu Municipality of Ghana. On elucidating on what a framework is, Chinn and Kramer [ 8 ] explained that a framework can be seen as a complex mental formulation of experience. Further clarification was given to distinguish conceptual framework from a theoretical framework. They assert that while theoretical framework is the theory on which the study is based, the conceptual framework deals with the operationalization of the theory. Put in another way, it represents the position of the researcher on the problem at hand and at the same time gives direction to the study. It may be entirely new, or an adoption of, or adaptation of, a model used in previous research with modification to fit the context of the inquiry [ 8 ].

The framework developed in this research has three components: the first component looks at the factors necessary to induce motivation among teachers. The second component focuses on motivation as a concept. The last component which is on job performance looks at the link between the aggregate motivational factors and performance. The extant literature survey on motivational factors and performance provides all the necessary ingredients for the construction of the framework. First, the extant literature shows that motivation as a concept is simply the act of moving people triggered by the provision of some incentives to achieve a desired goal. The triggers of motivation may include such factors such as compensation packages, job design and working environment, performance management system and training and development which are controlled and autonomous factors as crucial elements for motivation.

The second component of the framework is the aggregate motivation, which is the interaction of the controlled and autonomous factors of motivation. Motivation according to Reeve (2001) refers to the excitement level, the determination and the way a person works hard at his work setting. Ricks et al. [ 47 ] explicating on the thesis of motivation was of the view that motivation is an internal aspiration of a man that compels him to reach an objective or the goal set for him.

The third component of the framework is performance. According to Culture IQ [ 11 ] and Motowildo et al. [ 38 ], job performance is the assessment of whether an employee has done their job well. It is an individual evaluation (one measured based on a single person’s effort). In the words of Viswesvaran and Ones [ 58 ], p. 216, the term job performance is used in reference to actions that are scalable, behavior and outcomes that employees engage in or bring about that are linked with and contribute to the goals of an organization. It is linked to both employee- and organizational-level outcomes. A distinctive feature of the framework developed in this research is that it shows the interaction between autonomous and controlled factors and motivation and how it affects the performance of teachers in Fig.  1 .

figure 1

Source : Created by the authors

A Conceptual model of the relationship between Motivation and Teachers’ Performance.

It can be visibly seen from the framework that teachers motivation may be defined by both controlled and intrinsic motivational factors that may include those that fall under compensation packages, working environment, performance management system and training and development of teachers [ 44 ]. Yet the performance of teachers in itself motivates management and policy makers to institute compensation packages, improved psychological aura through enhanced working environment and job design and implementing appropriate performance management policy for a continued performance enhancement. It should also be emphasized here that these job satisfaction factors may pass as job motivational factors and theorize that a highly motivated teacher may be related to the level of satisfaction.

Scholars such as Thus Milda et al. [ 36 ] and Spector [ 52 ] collectively share the opinion that teachers differ from typical employees in various ways. Therefore, instruments that usually measure such job satisfaction and motivation dimensions as appreciation, communication, coworkers, fringe benefits, job conditions, nature of work, organization itself, organizations’ policies and procedures, pay, personal growth, promotion opportunities, recognition, security, supervision may not always match with teachers’ motivation aspects on the teaching field. However, some of these factors according to some researchers can be used in understanding motivation and performance among teachers. The consensus on these dimensions is especially on supervision, work itself, promotion and recognition being important dimensions of teachers’ motivation at work [ 50 , 51 , 56 ]. In addition, several researchers have used the same measurement or dimension but with different wording (synonym). For instance, Kreitner and Kinici [ 26 ] define job satisfaction with the synonym “motivation” which they argue contains “those psychological processes that cause the arousal, direction and persistence of voluntary actions that are goal directed” Motivation depends on certain intrinsic, as well as extrinsic factors which in collaboration results in fully committed employees. Based on this relationship, we hypothesize that:

Hypothesis 1

Teachers’ compensation package, job environment and design, performance management systems, training and development significantly affect teachers’ motivation.

In a similar manner, Board [ 5 ] asserted that tangible incentives are effective in increasing performance for task not done before, to encourage “thinking smarter” and to support both quality and quantity to achieve goals. Incentives, rewards and recognitions are the prime factors that impact on employee motivation. Aarabi et al. [ 1 ] confirmed this assertion by making use of factors such as payment, job security, promotion, freedom, friendly environment, and training and employee job performance to measure the term organizational motivation with positive relationship found on these factors. On rewards (which comes in various forms, e.g., income/pay, bonus, fringe benefits among others ) and recognition/appreciation, according to other researchers keep high spirit among employees which boost employee’s morale which may have a direct impact on performance and output. The study hypothesizes that:

Hypothesis 2

Teacher’s motivation positively affects their performance.

The aim, design and setting of the study

The paper aims to examine the link between motivation factors and performance among basic school teachers in Ghana. Data for this study were collected from primary. Primary data were sourced from the field of study through questionnaire administration. The researchers sought for permission from the municipal directorate of education to engage with teachers within the municipality. A written permission was granted, and questionnaires were administered to all basic schools’ teachers in the municipality.

At the preparatory stage, the questionnaires designed were tested to make sure participants understood the demands of the questions in the questionnaires. Informal interviews method has been adopted to make sure that additional information that could not have been gathered through the use of questionnaires was captured. The formal interviews using questionnaires ensured that we stayed focused on the background objective that formed the basis of the study.

Sampling technique and data analysis

On the determination of the sample size, different authors have differing views, but in most cases, the recommendation is that it should be large. Stevens [ 54 ] recommends at least 15 participants per predictor for reliable equation in the case of factor analysis. Tabachnick and Fidel [ 55 ] provides a formula for calculating sample size requirements, taking into consideration the number of independent variables that one wish to use: N  > 50 + 8  m (where m  = number of independent variables). In line with these and other requirements like Yamane [ 60 ], the exact sample size will be determined and questionnaires distributed accordingly to the selected public and private schools in the Effutu Municipality.

The human resource unit of the educational directorate of education in the municipality has indicated that there are over 678 teachers teaching at various levels in the municipality [ 15 ]. Thus, the 678 teachers become the population in the municipality. Using Yamane [ 60 ] and validating with other sampling size technique, a sample size of 254 has been adopted with a 0.5 level of precision. Thus, 254 questionnaires were distributed among the various schools, but 159 were filled and returned (representing 62.6% return rate).

Quantitative data are analyzed by means of a software called Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS version 20). This is necessitated by the fact that the analyzed quantitative data ought to be presented by graphs to give quick visual impression of what it entails.

The scale measurement of the questionnaires included nominal scale, ordinal and intervals. Questionnaires used were segmented to capture the demographic characteristics of the respondents and the constructs that feeds into the multi-level latent variables using a five-point Likert scale (see [ 19 , 24 ]). A verification was done to assess the suitability of the data for factor analysis with the expectation that Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin Measure of Sampling Adequacy ( \({\mathrm{i.e}}., {\rm KMo}\ge 0.6)\) and Bartlett’s Test of Sphericity value are significant ( p  = 0.05), which was the case for our sample data. In measuring some of the latent variables, the study developed a 9-scale item on compensation package with the following loadings (e.g., how high is your qualification and pay ( \(\alpha =0.72)\) , “is your experience linked to your current pay?” ( \(\alpha =0.80)\) , “are you satisfied with the market premium” ( \(\alpha =0.75)\) etc.). All items were rated on a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = “not important” to 5 = “very important.” A confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) indicates that the hypothesized correlated 3-factor structure fits well with the responds of the participants ( \({\chi }^{2}/df = 2.01, {\rm RMR}=0.05,{\rm RMSEA}=0.06,{\rm TLC}=0.94,{\rm CFI}=0.94)\) .

Job design and working environment was measured by a 7-item scale based on questions such as “how do you perceive your workload” ( \(\alpha =0.88)\) , “does your work type offer learning environment?” ( \(\alpha =0.83),\) “Are you inspired by your working environment?” ( \(\alpha =0.87)\) , “Talented student boost morale” ( \(\alpha =0.84)\) etc. Similarly, all items were rated on a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = “not important” to 5 = “very important.” A confirmatory factor analysis reveals that the hypothesized one-factor structure fits well with the data ( \({\chi }^{2}/df = 3.06, {\rm RMR}=0.05,{\rm RMSEA}=0.06,{\rm TLC}=0.94,{\rm CFI}=0.94)\) .

Performance management system was assessed using a 9-item scale based on these inferences (e.g., “number of times supervisor visits” ( \(\alpha =0.69)\) , “how often are you visited by the municipal director of education” ( \(\alpha =0.78)\) , “work recognition” ( \(\alpha =0.72)\) , etc.). All constructs were rated as 1 = “not important” to 5 = “very important.” A confirmatory factor analysis reveals that the hypothesized two-factor structure was in line with the data ( \({\chi }^{2}/df=2.86, {\rm RMR}=0.05,{\rm RMSEA}=0.06,{\rm TLC}=0.94,{\rm CFI}=0.94)\) .

The last but not the least concept explored was job performance. It was assessed on a 12-item scale based on the inferences such as (e.g., “are pupils treated with respect?” ( \(\alpha\) =0.77), “do you help pupils work on their social-emotional skills?” ( \(\alpha\) = 0.69), “are you fair and consistent with pupils” ( \(\alpha\) = 0.87), etc.). All items were rated on a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = “not important” to 5 = “very important.” A confirmatory factor analysis reveals that the hypothesized two-factor structure was in line with the data ( \({\chi }^{2}/df = 2.06, {\rm RMR} = 0.05,{\rm RMSEA} = 0.06,{\rm TLC} = 0.94,{\rm CFI} = 0.93)\) . The study proceeds to make use of the proposed measurement models to assess the relationship outlined in the conceptual model in Fig.  1 .

Hypothesized theoretical equation

Based on the conceptual model in Fig.  1 , the study makes a number of hypothesis on the relation between motivational factors and motivation itself and subsequently the link between motivation and performance. Consequently, the study model leads to two structural equations as presented below:

where JM = job motivation, CP = compensation package, JDWE = job design and working environment, PMS = performance management system, TD = training and development, JP = job performance.

Results and discussion

The study begins with a frequency distribution and descriptive statistics to capture the responses of teachers regarding the itemized construct identified in the conceptual model. Beginning with these two is borne out of the fact that the data category used in the study included categorical, ordinal and nominal variables which may be difficult to have a summary descriptive statistic.

With the understanding that every statistical approach is guided by certain principles or in most cases what has come to be known as assumptions, a diagnostic check was undertaken. Multicollinearity and singularity, for instance, look at the relationship among the independent variables. Thus, multicollinearity exists when the independent variables are highly correlated (r = 0.5 and above). The study was particular about these assumptions because multiple regression abhors them (singularity and multicollinearity). Issues concerning outliers (i.e., very high and low scores) was dealt with given the fact that multiple regression is sensitive to them. On normality, the results of the Kolmogorov–Smirnov statics were used to assess the distribution of scores. The test result was insignificant (i.e., sig. value of more than 0.05), which pointed to normality. Having done these, the study was sure there were no errors in the data and that the descriptive phase of the data used can begin.

Consistent with the general distribution of gender in the demographic characteristics of Ghana, about 63 of the teachers were female (39.6%) with 59.1% made up of male and 1.3% being transgender. The transgender teachers were foreign teachers who were here on an exchange program. Most of the teachers in the sample taught at the primary level (46.5%), followed by junior high level (43.4%) and kindergarten (8.8%), respectively. About 34.6% of the respondent responded they have taught between 6 and 10 years and 22.0% had spent between 11 and 20 years teaching. In terms of educational background, about 50.3% of the respondent have had first degree, with the remaining 49.7% being holders of teachers Cert. A or Diploma from the training colleges, and master’s degree of the returned samples. The average number of years participants have taught was observed to be 2.34 years with a corresponding standard deviation of 1.010. We present the demographic characteristics of our participants in Table 1 .

As shown in Table 2 , the compensation package scale has good internal consistency, with a Cronbach alpha coefficient reported to be around 0.725. According to Pallant [ 40 ], Cronbach alpha values above 0.7 are considered acceptable; however, values above 0.8 are preferable. Therefore, the threshold value of 0.725 means our scale is internally consistent and acceptable. Similarly, the job design and working environment scale recorded a Cronbach alpha coefficient of 0.793.

Performance management on the other hand had a Cronbach alpha coefficient of 0.70, yet training and development recorded a lower Cronbach alpha of 0.53, which meant it lacked internal consistency. The study had to drop training and development as factor for job motivation and proceed with the others. Job performance, however conspicuously recorded a Cronbach alpha of 0.83. In terms of the output from the correlation matrix, it can be visibly seen that the scales computed were not highly correlated and fallen below the threshold of 0.8 as recommended (see [ 40 ], p. 56). Both the assumption of singularity and multicollinearity by extension have not been violated (see Durbin Watson results) and thus the study can proceed to run the regression as per the set objectives and the conceptual model.

We go further to examine the causal effect of the factors identified as triggers of motivation on teachers’ level of motivation using ordinary least square method with multiple regression as the exact approach. Having gained credence from the test of reliability and validity, examining the causal effect becomes imperative. Using the baseline model in Eq. ( 1 ), the study concurrently runs the regression with the output shown in Tables 2 , 3 and 4 .

In model one, the study regresses compensation package with the dependent variable without controlling for other related factors. By implication what the results in model (1) seeks to explain is that, as the value of compensation package for teachers increases by 73 percentage points in the municipality, the mean of job motivation increases by that same margin. The high compensation is evidenced by government of Ghana reform in salary structure and bolstered by the effort of the Member of Parliament (MP) through the sharing of teaching and learning materials (TLMs) in the municipality. By this gesture by the MP, teachers feel appreciated and derive high motivation. Moreover, the presence of a university (University of Education, Winneba) has helped to deepen the level of motivation. The model has cross-variable variance of 52 percentage and with close to about 48 percentage unexplained as inferred from the coefficients of both coefficient of determination ( R 2 ) and adjusted coefficient of determination. Generally, the model is jointly significant ( F  = 170, p  < 0.01) with a corresponding tolerance and variable inflationary factor (VIF) of 1.

In model (2), the study varies the variables used with the inclusion of job design and working environment to examine how well the model can be through it cross-variable variance. Controlling for job design and environment shows a significant drop in the coefficient of compensation package from 0.73 to 0.53 although highly significant. Job design and environment recorded a coefficient of 0.49 which meant this indicator increases teachers’ satisfaction and thus motivation by 49 percentage points. In explaining this phenomenon, one would say that jobs that are rich in positive behavioral essentials such as autonomy, task significance and identity and feedback contribute to employees’ motivation. Government has since the introduction of its flagship program on free senior high education emphasized the significance of education across all the strata. The autonomy of heads of unit was by this directive curtailed. Heads of unit were barred from initiating policies to ease their operations. This finding is supported in the literature [ 7 , 30 , 46 ] and is aligned with the SDT. For example, head teachers who had levied pupils with printing fees were sanctioned for such initiative. Thus, by this gesture, the autonomy of the profession was in doubt and this explains why the level of motivation when this parameter is mentioned is low. With this addition, model (2) marginally sees an improvement of 0.73 in the cross-variable variance which is a significant. Model (2) was jointly significant ( F  = 170, p  < 0.01).

All the identified job motivation variables are concurrently used in model (3) to infer whether there was going to be a significant increase in the coefficient of determination and a drop in the residue. As a confirmation to the priori assumption, there was a marginal improvement of the explanatory strength of the model (R 2  = 0.88). However, the model witnessed significant drop in the coefficients. Thus, compensation package dropped further from 0.53 to 0.42 and job design and environment from 0.49 to 0.34.

It is important to note that the value of Durbin Watson test results when all the identified factors are brought together in model (3) indicate a no autocorrelation in the model which validates the earlier point of having dealt with critical assumptions that borders on autocorrelation. Moreover, both our VIF and tolerance were within the acceptable level. For instance, models (1)–(3) had a VIF score less than or equal to 1, which meant there were no issues concerning a possibility of high multicollinearity. For tolerance, there are no clear-cut cut-off point, but there is a suggestion of a tolerance greater than 0.40 according to Allison [ 3 ]. Yet Weisburd and Britt [ 59 ] are of the view that anything below 0.2 is an indication of serious multicollinearity. Inferring from these, it therefore goes to suggest that the tolerance levels of above 1 meant no multicollinearity.

In examining the relationship between the aggregated motivational factors and performance, the study brings to the fore the following findings as shown in Table 3 . The study presents four (4) different models on the relationship between motivation and performance. Model (1) regresses the aggregate motivational factors on job performance, and the findings are quite interesting to note. The job performance indicator is increased by 46% for every unit increase in motivation. This relationship can further be explained to mean a teacher within the municipality with a sense of satisfaction with his/her teaching job may feel more inclined to be at post no matter what the prevailing circumstances are. The snowball effect of this phenomenon is the reduction in absenteeism with a corresponding curb on teachers’ turnover. Although the coefficient of determination which explains the cross-variable variance is by far lower than expected ( R 2  = 0.214), the model is jointly significant ( F  = 41.44, p  < 0.01). The VIF and tolerance levels are within acceptable threshold with a Durbin Watson of 2.04 that signals a no concern of autocorrelation in the model.

Models (2)–(4) regress the decomposed job motivation factors on performance to ascertain their level of significance, and indeed, as theorized, these factors were positively significant except with lower coefficient of determinations ( R 2 ). To explain the relation in model (2), it is important to note that compensation is the output and the benefit that a teacher within the municipality receives in the form of pay, or even any form of exchanges (in kind or in cash) to increase performance. The Member of Parliament for the area as part of effort to ensure teachers are well compensated shared over 700 laptops to teachers within the municipality for effective teaching and learning. This certainly explains why the attrition rate in the municipality is low vis-à-vis high morale of teachers which largely explains the level of motivation and satisfaction.

Model (3) touches on the psychological state the teacher finds him or herself owed to the nature and state of the job. This may include the job environment and the degree of specialization. Yet in model (4), there is an exponential increase in the coefficient of performance management systems as it increases job performance within the municipality by 51 percentage point. It should be noted that performance management sets expectations for teachers’ performance and thus motivates them to work harder in ways expected by the municipal directorate of education under GES. The results in model (5) confirm earlier ones, but the inclusion of the other variables as control seems to have increased the coefficients of the various motivational factors. This partly explains the performance of the municipality in the central region in successive BECE.

Further investigation is made to understand which of the age groups is responsible for the ensuing level of performance in the municipality. To do this, the study relies on one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). Here, the mean scores of more than two groups are compared using a continuous variable as the dependent variable. Having transformed the ordinal variables to continuous, it makes it quite straightforward to do this. Using the categorical independent variable of age which has more than three categories and the job performance variable which we have transformed to be continuous variable, the study undertakes a one-way between groups ANOVA with post hoc tests. Teachers were divided into four groups according to their ages (group 1: 20–30 yrs.; group 2: 31–40 yrs.; group 3: 41–50 yrs.; group 4: above 51 yrs.). There was a statistically significant difference at the \(p<0.10\) level in job performance scores for the four age groups: F (4, 159) = 0.042, p  = 0.10. Despite reaching statistical significance for one of the groups, the actual difference in mean scores between the groups was quite small. The effect size was calculated using eta squared (eta squared = 179.1/8513 = 0.02) which in Cohen’s ([ 10 ], pp. 248–7) terms is considered far too small a size. Note should be taking that Cohen categorizes 0.01 as a small effect, 0.06 as a medium effect and 0.14 as a large effect. Post hoc comparisons using the Tukey HSD test indicated that the mean score for group 1 (56.12, SD = 4.26) is significantly different from the other three groups which were insignificant. The result has theoretical soundness. Group 1 was made up of young teachers who had either returned from training colleges after completion or on internship and thus had cause to perform for a possibility of being retained or given a very good report since internship supervision forms part of the trainees’ assessment.

In this study, we examined among a host of autonomous and controlled motivational factors and their relationship to performance among basic schools’ teachers in the Effutu Municipality of Ghana. A conceptual model was developed with the necessary hypotheses formulated. Using multiple regression and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), the causal effect as shown in the model is tested.

The study finds compensation package, job design and environment and performance management system to be positively significant factors in explaining teacher’s motivation in the municipality. These job motivation factors were significant predictors on job performance. The aggregated job motivation indicator when regressed on job performance reveals a positive and significant effect. Based on the results from the ANOVA, the study recommends the municipal directorate of education to make more room for young teacher trainees who are at the formative stage of their career to be engaged to augment the experienced staff strength. More should be done to make the profession attain some level of autonomy in the discharge of duty to breed the next genre of innovative educators in the municipality. A limitation of the study is its inability to treat job motivation as a mediatory variable as captured in the framework. The study recommends future research to explore this connection.

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Abbreviations

Analysis of variance

Self-determination theory

Single spine salary structure

Fair wages salary commission

Teaching and learning materials

Member of parliament

Job motivation

Job performance

Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin

Confirmatory factor analysis

Standardized root mean square residual

Root mean square error of approximation

Statistical package for social science

Variable inflationary factor

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the Effutu Directorate of Education, particularly the Municipal Director of Education for the support during the data collection stage. We thank all the basic school teachers in the municipality who devoted time to fill and return questionnaires sent to them. We are also grateful to the Directorate for the secondary materials given to the team.

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Forson, J.A., Ofosu-Dwamena, E., Opoku, R.A. et al. Employee motivation and job performance: a study of basic school teachers in Ghana. Futur Bus J 7 , 30 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s43093-021-00077-6

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  • Performance
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Performance Appraisal and Job Satisfaction for Workers Without and With Disabilities by Gender

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Social Indicators Research volume  153 ,  pages 1011–1039 ( 2021 ) Cite this article

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This study analyses the effects of performance appraisal on the levels of job satisfaction reported by workers without and with disabilities (aged 16–64) by gender. Particularly, we are interested in investigating the impact of monetary rewards such as pay, bonuses, future raises and potential promotion on job satisfaction by disability status and checking differences by gender. Our data come from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) for the years 2004, 2008, 2011 and 2016. We estimate job satisfaction equations running a fixed effect "Probit Adapted OLS" model. We find that males with disabilities are less likely to be satisfied with their jobs when they are subject to performance appraisal with monetary effects (appraisals with both short and long-term rewards explain this result), whereas the opposite result is found for females with disabilities (in the case of receiving long-term rewards). We estimate the association of these performance appraisal schemes with recognition from superiors, and with their efforts, personal advances and pay, and we find a coherent pattern with previous results.

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According to the existing literature (e.g. Kristensen and Johansson 2008 ; Bonsang and van Soest 2012 ; Knott et al. 2017 ), one of the problem of using self-evaluations of overall happiness or job satisfaction is that individuals from different countries, cultures or socio-economic backgrounds may perceive these questions on satisfaction in different ways, and may use different response scales (i.e. differential item functioning, DIF). To avoid this problem, the use of anchoring vignettes (wherein individuals evaluate, on the same scale, how good or bad are different hypothetical job or life situations) contributes to identifying these interpersonal differentials in response scales (King et al. 2004 ). In our case, unfortunately we cannot use this technique with the information on performance appraisal included in the SOEP.

They also use the created measures of disability from the SOEP to estimate the prevalence of disability for working-age men (aged 21–58) in the western states of Germany between 1984 and 2002. They also compare the employment of the working-age men with disabilities relative to their counterparts without disabilities in Germany and in the United States. They demonstrate the consistency and validity of the combination measure to investigate the impact of different disability policies and policy changes in Germany alone or in comparison with the United States.

Similar to Pagan ( 2010 ), we have analysed the relationship between disability and health satisfaction in order to test that both variables do not correlate perfectly. For this purpose, we have calculated the relationship between disability and health satisfaction for our samples of reference. We found that 27.1% of people with disabilities (31.02 and 23.46% for males and females, respectively) have a health satisfaction score equal to or over 5 points. This result is even higher than that obtained by Pagan ( 2010 ). Similar to Pagan ( 2010 ), this percentage for people without disabilities goes up to 89.89% (90.27 and 89.13% for males and females, respectively). These results are also in line with other psychological studies that conclude that the domain of disability extends far beyond health related concerns to encompass the person’s well-being, definition of self and social position (Grimby et al. 1988 ). Therefore, in studying disability, it is critical not to restrict the notion of job satisfaction to health related issues.

For instance, “when we like to apply these models in panel analysis where we want to take into account the panel structure either by assuming that the error terms between different observations of the same individual are correlated (individual random effects) or by introducing individual fixed effects many computational problems appear, when the one dimensional integrals have to be replaced by multi-dimensional integrals, where integration problems tend to become overwhelming (van Praag and Ferrer-i- Carbonell (2006, p. 5)”.

The total effect of performance appraisal schemes for people with disabilities -obtained summing the corresponding coefficients on performance appraisal dummies and interactions- show the same gendered pattern.

Note that the total effect of performance appraisal schemes on recognitions for people without disabilities corresponds to the set of dummies for performance appraisal in Table 4 not considering the interaction terms.

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Pagan, R., Malo, M.Á. Performance Appraisal and Job Satisfaction for Workers Without and With Disabilities by Gender. Soc Indic Res 153 , 1011–1039 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-020-02524-3

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Job satisfaction statistical analysis

hypothesis on job

Human resource theory suggests that job satisfaction is predicated upon correlation between job expectation and fulfillment of the stated expectation.  Subscribing to this theory, Murray and Cunningham (2004) assert that those “individuals whose expectations of the job are more closely aligned with the reality of the job are more likely to experience job satisfaction.”  To support the quoted hypothesis, Murray and Cunningham (2004) make extensive use of statistical data as shall be highlighted in this report.  However, and despite the fact that their usage of statistical data is accurate, Miner, Glomb and Hulin (2005) test the validity of a comparable hypothesis through the exploitation of a more precise methodology for statistical data collection.  Through an analysis of the usage of statistics in both the cited researches, this report shall conclude with the presentation of two sets of hypotheses which withstand testing validation through the use of ANOVAs.

Examining job satisfaction levels amongst a defined sample population of rural community college instructors, Murray and Cunningham (2004) presented one set of hypothesis.  The null hypothesis was that high turnover was due to job dissatisfaction, while the alternate hypothesis held that high turnover was due to a range of factors, with job satisfaction figuring as just one of them.  The authors proceeded to present statistical data collected from previous researches and which pertained to the gender, age and racial composition of the sample population, here defined as community college instructors.  The statistics presented at this stage did not contribute to the validation of either the null or the alternate hypothesis but more generally fortified the claim that job dissatisfaction was high among practitioners of this particular profession.  Therefore, at his point, one can critique the mentioned research on the basis of its having including statistics which may be deemed irrelevant with the context of the hypothesis set.

Following the presentation of statistical data on the composition of the sample population, Murray and Cunningham (2004) use statistics pertaining to self-reported intentions to take an early retirement or to resign the profession.  The criticism here is the same as above.  In brief, the statistics cited are relevant to neither the null nor the alternate hypothesis.  Certainly, the researchers proved the existence of a problem within the profession as indicated by statistics signaling that the greater majority planned to retire the profession.  However, while one may logically assume that the stated intention is reflective of job satisfaction, the fact is that this is an unproven assumption, unsupported by the set of statistics provided by the researchers.  Hence, within the context of this particular research, the statistical data employed proved high turnover ad a lack of organizational commitment but neither proven the null nor the alternate hypotheses.

Indirect comparison to the above discussed research, Miner, Glomb and Hulin (2005) employ statistical data which directly pertains to their null and alternate hypothesis on job satisfaction levels among a sample population of corporate employees.  The null hypothesis, that positive work experience is positively related to job satisfaction was supported through statistical data collected from quantitative questionnaires distributed among the sample population.  Insofar as referred to statistical data  focused on attitudes towards work hours, monetary compensation, the work environment and level of organizational commitment and demonstrated that those who reported high degrees of satisfaction in the mentioned areas reported high job satisfaction levels, statistics were accurately employed.  As pertains to the alternate hypothesis, that while job satisfaction is positively related to work satisfaction, the level of job satisfaction rises and fluctuates according to the time of the day and the day of the week the supporting statistical data was very precise.  Questionnaires distributed among the sample population asked the same questions as earlier cited but categorized them by morning, midday and late day and by time of the week.  Therefore, employees provided responses to the questions pertaining to job satisfaction three times during the work day and five times in the work week.  In their citation and discussion of the mentioned statistical data, the researchers were able to conclusively validate the alternate hypothesis.  Consequently as regards the use of statistics in this research on job satisfaction, as contrasted to the first, one may conclude that statistics were relevantly employed to test and validate the null and alternate hypothesis presented.

Based on the above cited research write-ups and elaboration on their usage of statistical data, one may forward the below sets of hypothesis, testable through the use of the one-way ANOVA.  The research question that will inform the sets of hypotheses is whether job satisfaction is higher for a group of tenured professors at rural community colleges than it is for part-time instructors at the same institutes?

hypothesis on job

Hypothesis Set 1:

H 0 :  Job satisfaction is equal for the two groups.

H 1 : Job satisfaction is significantly lower for part-time instructors than it is for tenured professors.

Hypothesis Set 2:

H 0 :  The factors influencing job satisfaction are the same for tenured professors at rural colleges as they are for part time instructors at the same colleges.

H 1 : A different set of factors influences job satisfaction between the two groups.

Both sets of hypotheses, insofar as they are statistical hypotheses withstand validation through ANOVA tests.

  • Miner, A.G., T.M. Glomb, & C. Hulin.  (2005).  Experience sampling mood and its correlates at work.  Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology , 78, 171-193.  EBSCOhost.
  • Murray, J.P., & S. Cunningham.  (2004).  New rural community college faculty members and job satisfaction.  Community College Review , 32(2).  EBSCOhost.
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