Aziri B. mrp.ase.ro JOB SATISFACTION: A LITERATURE REVIEW

MANAGEMENT RESEARCH AND PRACTICE VOL. 3 ISSUE 4 (2011) PP: 77-86

JOB SATISFACTION: A LITERATURE REVIEW

Brikend AZIRI Faculty of Business and Economics, South East European University, Ilindenska 1200, Tetovo, Makedonia [email protected]

Abstract Job satisfaction represents one of the most complex areas facing today’s managers when it comes to managing their employees. Many studies have demonstrated an unusually large impact on the job satisfaction on the motivation of workers, while the level of motivation has an impact on productivity, and hence also on performance of business organizations .Unfortunately, in our region, job satisfaction has not still received the proper attention from neither scholars nor managers of various business organizations. Keywords: job satisfaction.

1. DEFINITION AND IMPORTANCE OF JOB SATISFACTION

Despite its vide usage in scientific research,as well as in everyday life,there is still no general agreement regarding what job satisfaction is. In fact there is no final definition on what job represents. Therefore before a definition on job satisfaction can be givven , the nature and importance of work as a universal human activity must be considered.

Different authors have different approaches towards defining job satisfaction. Some of the most commonly cited definitions on job satisfaction are analysed in the text that folows. ManagementResearch and Practice

Volume3, Issue 4 / December 2011 Hoppock defined job satisfaction as any combination of psychological, physiological and environmental circumstances that cause a person truthfully to say I am satisfied with my job (Hoppock, 1935). According to this approach although job satisfaction is under the influence of many external factors, it remains something internal that has to do with the way how the employee feels. That is job satisfaction presents a set of factors that cause a feeling of satisfaction.

Vroom in his definition on job satisfaction focuses on the role of the employee in the workplace. Thus he defines job satisfaction as affective orientations on the part of individuals toward work roles wich they are presently occupying (Vroom, 1964).

One of the most often cited definitions on job satisfaction is thr one given by Spector according to whome job satisfaction has to do with the way how people feel about their job and its various aspects. It has to do with

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the extent to wich people like ore dislike their job. Thatswhy job satisfaction and job disstatisfaction can appear in any givern work situation.

Job satisfaction represents a combination of positive or negative feelings that workers have towards their work. Meanwhile, when a worker employed in a business organization , brings with it the needs, desires and experiences which determinates expectations that he has dismissed. Job satisfaction represents the extent to which expectations are and match the real awards. Job satisfaction is closely linked to that individual's behaviour in the work place (Davis et al.,1985).

Job satisfaction is a worker’s sense of achievement and sucess on the job. It is generally perceived to be directly linked to productitivty as well as to personal well-being. Job satisfaction implies doing a job one enjoys, doing it well and being rewarded for one’s efforts. Job satisfaction further implies enthusiasm and happiness with one’s work. Job satisfaction is the key ingridient that leads to recognition, income, promotion, and the achevement of other goals that lead to a feeling of fullfillment (Kaliski,2007).

Job satisfaction can be defined also as the extent to wich a worker is content with the rewards he or she gets out of his ore her job,particulary in terms of intrinsic motivacion (Statt, 2004).

The term job satisfactions refers to the attituted and feelings people have about their work. Positive and favorable attitudes towards the job indicate job satisfaction. Negative and unfavorable attitudes towards the job indicate job dissatisfaction (Armstrong, 2006).

Job satisfaction is the collection of feeling and beliefs that people have about their current job. People’s levels of degrees of job satisfaction can range from extreme satisfaction to extreme dissatisfaction. In addition to having attitudes about their jobs as a whole. People also can have attitudes about various aspects of their jobs such as the kind of work they do, their coworkers, supervisors or suborinates and their pay (George et ManagementResearch and Practice Volume3, Issue 4 / December 2011 al., 2008).

Job satisfaction is a complex and multifaceted concept wich can mean different things to different people. Job satisfaction is usually linked with motivation, but the nature of this relationship is not clear. Satisfaction is not the same as motivaton. Job satisfaction is more of an attitude, an internal state. It could,for example,be associated with a personal feeling of achievement, either quantitative or kualitative (Mullins, 2005).

We consider that job satisfaction represents a feeling that appears as a result of the perception that the job enables the material and psychological needs (Aziri, 2008).

Job satisfaction can be considered as one of the main factors when it comes to efficiancy and effectiveness of business organizations. In fact the new managerial paradigm wich insists that employees should be treated and considered primarily as human beans that have their own wants,needs,personal desires is a very good

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indicator for the importance of job satisfaction in comtemporary companies. When analysing job satisfaction the logic that a satisfied employee is a happy employee and a happy employee is a sucesful employee.

The importance of job satisfaction specially emerges to surface if had in mind the many negative consequences of job disstisfaction such a lack of loyalty,increased abstenteism, increase number of accidents etc. Spector (1997) lists three important features of job satisfaction. Firts, organizations should be guided by human values. Such organizations will be oriented towards treating workers fairly and with respect. In such cases the assesment of job satisfaction may serve as a good indicator of employee effectiveness. High levels of job satisfaction may be sign of a good emotional and mental state of employees. Second, the behaviour of workers depending on their level of job satisfaction will affect the functioning and activities of the organization's business. From this it can be concluded that job satisfaction will result in positive behaviour and vice versa, dissatisfaction from the work will result in negative behaviour of employees. Third, job satisfaction may serve as indicators of organizational activities. Through job satisfaction evaluation different levels of satisfaction in different organizational units can be defined, but in turn can serve as a good indication regarding in which organizational unit changes that would boost performance should be made.

Christen, Iyer and Soberman (2006) provide a model of job satisfaction presented in Figure 1 in wich the folowing elements are included:

Job related factors, Role perceptions, Job performance and Firm performance. + Firm performance Job performance ManagementResearch and Practice + Volume3, Issue 4 / December 2011

Job factors

- Problems with role Job satisfaction perceptions

FIGURE 1 - CHRISTEN , L YER AND SOBERMAN MODEL OF JOB SATISFACTION (C HRISTEN ET , 2006)

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Lawler and Porter (1967) give their model of job satisfaction wich unlike the previous model places a special importance on the impact of rewards on job satisfaction, Figure 2.

Intrinsic rewards Perceived equitable rewards

Performance Job satisfaction

Extrinsic rewards

FIGURE 2 - LAWLER ’S AND PORTER ’S MODEL OF JOB SATISFACTION (L AWLER AND PORTER , 1967)

According to this model the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards are not directly connected with job satisfaction,because of the employees perceptions regarding the deserved level of pay.

Locke and Latham (1990) provide a somewhat different model of job satisfaction. They proceed from the assumption that the objectives set at the highest level and high expectations for sucess in work provides achevement and sucess in performing tasks. Sucess is analysed as a factor that creates job satisfaction. This model is presented in Figure 3.

Moderating factors

ManagementResearch and Practice Volume3, Issue 4 / December 2011

Specific high goals

Mediating High Rewards mechanisms performance

High expectancy

self-efficiency

Commitment to the Satisfaction

goals of the and

organization anticipated

FIGURE 3 - LOCKE AND LATHAM MODEL OF JOB SATISFACTION (L OCKE AND LATHAM , 1990)

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2. FACTORS OF JOB SATISFACTION

Job satisfaction is under the influence of a series of factors such as:The nature of work, Salary , Advancement opportunities, Management,Work groups and Work conditions.

A somewhat different approach regarding the factors of job satisfaction is provided by Rue and Byars, Figure 4.

- Manager’s concern for people - Job design (scope,depth,interest,perceived value) - Compensation (external and internal consistency) - Working conditions - Social relationships - Perceived long-range opportunities - Perceived oppurtunities elsewhere

- Levels of aspiration and need achievement

Job satisfaction/dissatisfaction

Co mmitment to Turnover , absenteeism ,

tardiness, accidents, strikes, organization grievances, sabotage etc.

ManagementResearch and Practice

Volume3, Issue 4 / December 2011

FIGURE 4 D ETERMINANTS OF SATISFACTION AND DISSATISFACTION (R UE AND BYAES , 2003)

When talking about factors of job satisfaction the fact that they can alo couse job dissatisfaction must be kept in mind. Therefore the issue weather job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction are two opposite and excudable phenomena? There is no concensus regarding this issue among authors. Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory is probably the most often cited point of view. In fact the main idea is that employees in their work environment are under the influence of factors that cause job satisfaction and factors that cause job dissatisfaction. Therefore al factors that have derived from a large empirical research and devided in factors that cause job satisfaction (motivators) and factors that cause job dissatisfaction (hygiene factors), Table 1.

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TABLE 1 - JOB SATISFACTION FACTORS (H ERZBERG , 1976) Hygiene factors Motivators Company policies Achievement Supervision Recognition Interpersonal relations Work itself Work conditions Responsibility Salary Advancement Statuse Growth Job security

3. MEASURING JOB SATISFACTION

Usualy job satisfaction is measured by using general scientific research methods such as the questonaire. Some of the most commonly used techniques for measuring job satisfaction include: Minnesota satisfaction questonaire and Job description index The Minnesota Satisfaction Questonaire is a paper-pencil type of a questonaire and can be implemented both individualy and in group, but it does not take sex differences into consideration. This questonaire has one short form and two long forms that date from 1967 and 1977. In fact 20 work features in five levels are measured with this questonaire. Responding to this questonaire usually takes between 15-20 minutes.

The 1967 version of the Minessota Satisfaction Questonaire uses the folowing response categories:

Not satisfied, Somewhat satisfied, Satisfied, Very satisfied and Extremely satisfied. ManagementResearch and Practice Volume3, Issue 4 / December 2011 The 1977 version of the Minessota Satisfaction Questonaire uses the folowing response categories:

Very satisfied, Satisfied, Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, Dissatisfied and Very dissatisfied. If compared its obvious that in a way the 1977 version of this questonaire is more balanced compared to the 1967 version. This questonaire the folowing aspects of job:

Co-workers Achievement Activity ISSN

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Advancement Authority Company Policies Compensation Moral Values Creativity Independence Security Social Service Social Status Recognition Responsibility Supervision-HumanRelations Supervision-Technical Variety Working Conditions The Job Description Index is one of the most videly used techniques for measuring job satisfaction. It is a simple and easily applicable method. The measurement of strength and weakness within each factor are a sign as in wich field improvement and changes are neceseary.

This questonaire alows acqquisition of information on all major aspects of work and takes sex differences into consideration. This questonaire was first introduced in 1969 and it measures five major job satisfaction

ManagementResearch and Practice aspects with a total of over 70 potential job descriptions. Volume3, Issue 4 / December 2011 The factors considered by the job description idex are:

The nature of work, Compensation and benefits, Attitudes toward supervisors, Relations with co-workers and Opportunities for promotion. Descriptors on each of the five factors can be evaluated with three potenctial options by the employees: 1 wich means that the description is relevant, 2 wich means that the description is not relevant and 3 that means that the employee does not have an opinion.

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One of the oldest approaches to measure job satisfaction is the degree of facial expressions presented by Kunin, Figure 5. Perhaps this is the simplest form of job satisfaction measurement. In fact according to this approach several facial expressions are presented to the employee and he should put a check underneath the expresion that decribes his feeling and opinion the best.

Put a check under the face that expresses how you feel about your job in general, including the work, the pay, the supervision, the opportunities for promotion and the people you work with. FIGURE 5 – F ACIAL EXPRESSIONS PRESENTED BY KUNIN

4. EFFECTS OF JOB SATISFACTION

Job satisfaction causes a series of onfluences on various aspects of organizational life. Some of them such as the influence of job satisfaction on employee productivity, loyalty and abstenteism are analysed as part of this text.

The proponderance of research evidence indicates that there is no strong linkage between satisfaction and productivity. For example a comprehesive meta-analysis of the research literature finds only a.17 best- estimate correlation between job satisfaction and productivity . Satisfied workers will not necessearily be the highest producers. There are many possible moderating variables , the most important of which seems to be rewards. If people receive rewards they feel are equitable , they will be satisfies and this is likely to result in greater performance effort. Also, recent research evidence indicates that satisfaction may not necessarily lead to individual performance improvement but does lead to departamental and organizational level ManagementResearch and Practice

Volume3, Issue 4 / December 2011 improvements. Finally there is still considerable debate weather satisfaction leads to performance or performance leads to satisfaction (Luthans, 1998).

Employee loyalty is one of the most significant factors that human resource managers in particular must have in mind. Employee loyalty os usualy measured with the Loyalty Questonaire and can cause serious negative consequences when not in a high level.

Usualy three typs of employee loyalty are considered: affective loyalty, normative loyalty and continuity loyalty. Affective loyalty has do with the cases when an employee feels an emotional connection to the company, normative loyalty is a sort of loyalty that appears in cases when the employee feels like he ows something to the comapny and continuity loyalty comes as a result of the fact that the employee does not have an opportunity to find a job somewhere else.

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Research conducted by Vanderberg and Lance (1992) during wich they surveyed 100 profesionists in the information services for five months showd a strong relations between job satisfaction and employee loyalty. Their research proved that the higher the degree of job satisfaction the higher is the level of employee loyalty.

Employee abstenteism causes serious aditional costs forcompanies, therefore managers are in permanent persue of ways how to decrease and reduce it to its minimum. Probabbly, the best way o reduvce ameployee abstenteism would be through a increase in the level of employee satisfaction. The main idea behind this approach is that the higher the degree of job satisfaction is the lower employee abstenteism should be.

Even though the effects are modest the fact that job satisfaction contributes to decreasing the level of employee abstenteism remaines. So satisfaction is worth payng attention to , especially since it is potentially under your control – unlike some of the other causes of abstenteism (e.g. illness, accidents). But aswe said circumstances caan alter this equation. As a manager you could be implicitly encouraging absteenteism by inforcing company policies. If people are paid for sick days, and if they must be “used or lost” this is pretty strong encouragement for employees to be absent. In other words, you’ve helped create a culture of absteenteism that can overcome the “satisfaction” effect. (Sweney and McFarlin, 2005)

When satisfaction is high, abstenteeism tends to be low; when satisfaction is low, abstenteeism tends to be high. However as with the other relationships with satisfaction, there are moderating variables such as the degree to wich people feel their jobs are important. Additionally, it is important to remember that while high job satisfaction will not necessarily result in low abenteeism, low job satisfaction is likely to bring about high absenteeism.

5. CONCLUSIONS ManagementResearch and Practice

Volume3, Issue 4 / December 2011 Job satisfaction represents one of the most complex areas facing today’s managers when it comes to managing their employees. Although thousands of papers and research have been conducted on job satisfaction all over the world, in the Republic of Macedonia this is one of the least studied research fields.

Many studies have demonstrated an unusually large impact on the job satisfaction on the motivation of workers, while the level of motivation has an impact on productivity, and hence also on performance of business organizations.

There is a considerable impact of the employees perceptions for the nature of his work and the level of overall job satisfaction. Financial compansation has a great impact on the overall job satisfaction of employees .

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Armstrong, M. (2006). A Handbook of Human resource Management Practice , Tenth Edition, Kogan Page Publishing, London, , p. 264 Aziri, B. (2008). Menaxhimi i burimeve njerëzore, Satisfaksioni nga puna dhe motivimi i punëtorëve, Tringa Design, Gostivar, , p. 46 Christen, M., Iyer, G. and Soberman, D. (2006). Job Satisfaction, Job Performance, and Effort: A Reexamination Using Agency Theory, Journal of Marketing , Januaryr, Vol. 70, pp. 137-150 Davis, K. and Nestrom, J.W. (1985). Human Behavior at work: Organizational Behavior , 7 edition,McGraw Hill, New York, p.109 Herzberg, H. F. (1976). Motivation-Hygiene Profiles , p. 20 George, J.M. and Jones, G.R. (2008). Understanding and Managing Organizational behavior , Fifth Edition, Pearson/Prentice Hall, New Yersey, p. 78 Hoppock, R. (1935). Job Satisfaction , Harper and Brothers, New York, p. 47 Kaliski, B.S. (2007). Encyclopedia of Business and Finance , Second edition, Thompson Gale, Detroit, p. 446 Lawler, E.E. III and Porter, L.W. (1967). The Effect of Performance on Job Satisfaction , Industrial Relations, pp. 20-28 Locke, E.A. and Latham, G.P. (1990). A theory of goal setting and task performance , Prentice Hall, p.4 Luthans, F. (1998). Organizational Behavior , 8 Edition, McGraw-Hill/Irwin, Boston, p. 147 Mullins, J.L. (2005). Management and organizational behavior , Seventh Edition, Pearson Education Limited, Essex, p. 700 Rue, L.W. and Byars, L. (2003). Management, Skills and Application , 10 ed., McGraw-Hill/Irwin, New York, p. 259 Spector, P.E. (1997). Job satisfaction: Application, assessment, causes and consequences ,Thousand Oaks, CA,Sage Publications, Inc ManagementResearch and Practice

Volume3, Issue 4 / December 2011 Statt, D. (2004). The Routledge Dictionary of Business Management , Third edition, Routledge Publishing, Detroit, p. 78 Sweney, P.D. and McFarlin, D.B. (2005). Organizational Behavior, Solutions for Management , McGraw- Hill/Irwin, New York,p. 57 Sweney, P.D. and McFarlin, D.B. (2005). Organizational Behavior, Solutions for Management , McGraw- Hill/Irwin, New York, p. 57 Vanderberg, R.J. and Lance, Ch.E. (1992). Examining the Causal Order of Job Satisfaction and Organizational Commitmen’t, Journal of Management, Vol.18, No.1, pp. 153-167 Vroom, V.H. (1964). Work and motivation , John Wiley and Sons, New York, p.99

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Job Satisfaction: A Literature Review

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2011, Management Research and Practice

Job satisfaction represents one of the most complex areas facing today's managers when it comes to managing their employees. Many studies have demonstrated an unusually large impact on the job satisfaction on the motivation of workers, while the level of ...

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Transformational Leadership and Employee Job Satisfaction: The Mediating Role of Employee Relations Climate and the Moderating Role of Subordinate Gender

Associated data.

The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author.

Scholars have paid extensive attention to transformational leadership for decades. However, existing studies still lack ample discussions on the underlying mechanism and boundary conditions of its influence on employee job satisfaction. This study proposed a moderated mediation model based on social exchange theory. We collected survey data from 211 frontline employees to verify our hypotheses. The results showed that transformational leadership was positively associated with employee job satisfaction via the mediation role of the perceived employee relations climate. Furthermore, the relationship between transformational leadership and the employee relations climate, as well as the indirect relationship between the two, was demonstrated to be more significant for male employees. This study offered a new account of the mechanisms of transformational leadership and clarified a boundary condition for its effectiveness.

1. Introduction

With the increasing competition of economic globalization and popularity of the employee-centered management approach, improving the leadership effectiveness of managers has become one of the most important ways to enhance the core competitiveness of companies and to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage [ 1 ]. In the past 20 years, transformational leadership has become one of the most popular leadership styles in both academia and in practice [ 2 , 3 ]. Transformational leadership is generally used to describe leaders who articulate a vision of the future that is shared with their subordinates, intellectually stimulate their subordinates, and pay attention to the individual differences among people [ 4 ]. Transformational leadership can motivate subordinates to put the interests of an organization first, as well as to put in extra effort to serve the organization [ 5 ].

Extant studies have shown that transformational leadership is positively related to the attitudes that employees have toward their jobs as well as work outcomes [ 6 , 7 , 8 ]. For example, Judge et al. [ 9 ] and Lowe et al. [ 10 ] demonstrated that there is a significant relationship between transformational leadership and the attitudes that employees have toward their jobs as well as their job performance. Employee job satisfaction refers to the attitudes or viewpoints that employees hold about their job or job experiences; as such, it is an evaluation of their overall roles at work [ 11 , 12 ]. The relationship between transformational leadership and employee job satisfaction is well established in the current literature [ 13 , 14 , 15 ]. Satisfied employees are a valuable organizational resource for success, well-being, and sustainability in the long run [ 16 ]. Extant studies have explored the mechanisms of transformational leadership from the perspective of intrinsic motivation and employee’s perceived relationship with the leader [ 17 , 18 , 19 ]. For example, empirical studies examined the mediation role of self-efficacy, psychological empowerment, psychological safety, and trust in leaders [ 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 ]. In addition to the employee’s personal motivation, job characteristics, and leader–follower interaction, recent studies on employee job satisfaction argued that employees’ perceptions of organizational settings were also critical in raising employee job satisfaction [ 24 , 25 , 26 ]. For example, Ahmad et al. [ 27 ] found that the organizational climate perceived by employees had an impact on job satisfaction. Bulińska-Stangrecka and Bagieńska [ 28 ] argued that employee relations played a role in shaping job satisfaction.

Meanwhile, research on transformational leadership has turned to discuss the impact of transformational leadership on promoting changes in the relationship between employees and the organization. Some studies argued that transformational leadership affects employee’ perceived organizational support; perceived organizational trust; and perceived climate which supports creative thinking [ 29 , 30 , 31 , 32 ]. However, there lacks ample empirical results to support whether transformational leadership affects employee job satisfaction from the perspective of employee’s perceived relationship with the organization. These findings raise the question of whether transformational leadership is able to affect employee attitudes toward the employee relations climate of their organization and whether this amendment in perception will affect employee job satisfaction. Empirically testing the mediating mechanism of employees’ perceived relations climate will enhance our knowledge on the effectiveness of transformational leadership. In addition, is transformational leadership effective for all employees? There is still a lack of in-depth discussion on the underlying mechanisms and boundary effects in the existing literature.

Employee relations climate refers to the shared perception and feeling of management practices among organizational members [ 33 ]. It reflects a highly engaged and employee-centered culture [ 33 , 34 ]. The employee relations climate is an important aspect of organizational effectiveness, and it is a source of communication between management and employees [ 35 ]. We propose that it works as a mediator between transformational leadership and employee job satisfaction. Transformational leadership will lead to close connections between employees and the organization and will create an employee-centered climate. This kind of climate will allow employees to feel the friendly side of the organization and will enable them to maintain a positive attitude in the work place, improving employee job satisfaction [ 36 , 37 ]. In addition, while an increasing number of gender studies on transformational leadership have explained the effectiveness of transformational leadership from the perspective of the gender of the leader, studies have ignored the gender of the subordinate [ 38 , 39 ]. We further argue a boundary condition of transformational leadership that is based on a subordinate gender perspective and propose that such a mediation relationship should be more significant for male employees. According to studies on gender difference, men are more achievement oriented than women at work, and they tend to pay more attention to challenges and development opportunities at work [ 40 , 41 ]. We contend that transformational leadership will have a more substantial effect on the employee relations climate perceived by male subordinates. Finally, we proposed and examined a moderated mediation model that incorporates the employee relations climate and gender difference into the discussion.

This study contains several contributions. First, we offer a new account to explain how transformational leadership affects employee job satisfaction from the perspective of the relationship between personal perception and the organization. It suggests that organizations can choose leaders when recruiting and can equip them with transformational leadership traits. It also reminds organizations of the importance of creating a positive employee relations climate to improve employee job satisfaction. Second, we identify how the effectiveness of transformational leadership is contingent on subordinate gender. It provides a basis for transformational leaders to classify and manage employees of different genders who are on the team. Furthermore, most research has focused on the impact of the employee relations climate at the organizational level [ 42 , 43 ]. Additionally, our study enriches the research on the employee relations climate by examining its individual-level effectiveness.

2. Literature Review

2.1. transformational leadership, employee job satisfaction, and employee relations climate.

In organizations, climate is a measurable set of attributes of the work environment, which are perceived directly or indirectly by those who live and work in that environment [ 44 ]. The climate considers management, employees’ perceptions of how employee relations are handled, and employee interactions with each other [ 45 , 46 ]. The employee relations climate refers to the common perceptions that employees have about certain management practices, including interpersonal relationships, work climate, employee engagement, and performance [ 47 ]. It reflects a highly engaged, employee-centered culture [ 33 , 34 ]. The employee relations climate is an important aspect of organizational effectiveness [ 35 ], and current research confirms that the employee relations climate plays a mediating role between CEO relationship-focused behaviors and firm performance [ 42 ] and a mediating effect between strategy HRM practices and firm performance [ 43 ]. Establishing a positive employee relations climate is very important for an organization’s development [ 35 ]. The role of the employee relations climate between leadership style and employee attitude or behaviors deserves more attention from scholars.

Leaders play a significant role in their company and are not only the key to the company’s growth but are also the source of corporate culture [ 48 ]. Studies have shown that leaders can influence climate formation by holding a set of assumptions themselves and then by communicating them, engaging in symbolism, and inspiring consistent behaviors among their followers [ 49 ]. Additionally, the climate that is formed in the corporate environment is influenced by the leadership style. For example, Nemanich and Keller argued that transformational leaders influence subordinate outcomes through the perceived climate that they create [ 31 , 50 ]. Burns [ 51 ] defined transformational leadership as a behavioral process that stimulates employees to perform better at work by stimulating the spiritual aspects of their subordinates. Li and Shi [ 52 ] further combined transformational leadership with the Chinese context and identified four transformational leadership characteristics. The first characteristic, namely, be moral exemplification, suggests that transformational leaders can lead by example, consistent with their words and deeds, and demonstrate a spirit of dedication. Additionally, their morals and behaviors are recognized by employees. Second, vision motivation refers to leaders who describe the goals and visions for the company to their subordinates, allowing the employees to be more informed about the company’s future development, and the direction that they want to work toward, with the aim of bringing value to the company and to others. Third, personalized care means that leaders tend to care about the personal situations of their employees and care about their families. Finally, transformational leadership includes leadership charisma, whereby leaders have the ability to help and guide their subordinates, encouraging active innovation among their employees. Such leaders have a complete work ethic and a strong sense of professionalism, which is effective in leading employees forward.

The characteristics of transformational leadership, such as care, communication, and motivation, are beneficial in helping employees perceive a positive employee relations climate [ 31 ]. From the perspective of social exchange theory, social exchange and economic exchange in employee-organizational exchanges will have an impact on commitment and employee job satisfaction [ 53 ]. Transformational leaders are the embodiment of the organization; employees personify their organization by ascribing human-like characteristics to it [ 30 ]. Based on this organization’s personification, employees would view the organization’s expression and judge the organization’s attitude based on the leader’s behavior and attitude [ 54 ]. Transformational leaders not only convey the company’s vision and mission to employees, motivating them to work hard, but also encourage employees to innovate and challenge themselves and care about and help employees solve problems [ 55 ], which enables employees to establish a closer connection with the company. In this interactive climate, employees can feel the positive attitude and expression of the organization [ 36 ]. When transformational leaders provide help to employees when they need it, improve their abilities, impart knowledge to them, and treat them equally, employees will perceive organizational care and support. The personal and corporate interests are closely linked, and employees can perceive an employee-centered and highly involved employee relations climate, which will help improve the quality of social exchange between employees and the organization [ 56 ]. In order to fulfill the reciprocal responsibilities to the organization, employees will show more behaviors and attitudes that are beneficial to the organization as a reward for repaying or exchanging awareness [ 57 ]. When employees perceive a high-level employee relations climate, they will have positive behaviors and attitudes toward the company and contribute positive values and results to the organization, which will significantly improve employee job satisfaction. A satisfied workforce exerts more effort and works hard to achieve organizational objectives [ 58 ]. The following hypothesis is thus proposed:

Employees’ perceived employee relations climate mediates the relationship between transformational leadership and employee job satisfaction.

2.2. The Moderating Role of Subordinate Gender

From a social information processing perspective, the effect that a leader’s behavior has on their subordinates will depend on how the subordinates perceive and process the situational cues that are conveyed by the leader [ 59 ]. Under transformational leadership, subordinates with positive characteristics are more actively engaged in their work because positive subordinates have a strong need for growth [ 60 ]. Transformational leadership develops the potential that employees have to a great extent by influencing and motivating them, thus enabling them to go beyond their interests [ 61 ]. Gender difference studies point out that men and women differ in their expectations and in their attitudes toward competition in the workplace. Generally, men value more the challenge and opportunity to develop at work. They are more willing to show their talents in competition [ 62 ]. Research has found that male subordinates pay more attention to their inner work values than female subordinates, such as being responsible and having opportunities to exert initiative and achievement [ 40 ]. Empirical studies conducted in Korea and China have supported the notion that men are more courageous, risk taking, and achievement oriented [ 63 ]. As such, they are more easily influenced by transformational leadership [ 64 ]. Our study is also rooted in a Chinese context, and we argue that the relationship between transformational leadership and perceived employee relations climate is contingent on the subordinate’s gender.

As males are more achievement oriented and value more challenge and opportunity at work, their work motivation and perceptions are more easily activated by the managerial context [ 65 ]. When transformational leaders describe the company’s future development goals to male subordinates, these male subordinates are more confident that they can bring value to the company and to others, and they feel more closely connected to the organization and are able to perceive a more positive employee relations climate [ 63 ]. However, female subordinates are relatively conservative, prefer to avoid competition, and have relatively lower expectations for developing their careers [ 40 ]. Transformational leadership creates a dilemma between the high-demand reality and the relatively conservative career expectations of female subordinates [ 66 ]. They may be less likely to prefer or embrace the values and visions of their leaders, resulting in a less positive attitude toward the organization and less engagement in their relationship with the organization [ 67 ]. Thus, the positive relationship between transformational leadership and the employee relations climate will be attenuated for female employees. Accordingly, the following hypothesis was formulated:

The relationship between transformational leadership and the employee relations climate perceived by employees is moderated by the subordinate gender in such a way that the above relationship is stronger for male subordinates and weaker for female subordinates.

Integrating the mediating role of Hypothesis 1 and the moderating role of Hypothesis 2, we further proposed an integrated moderated mediation model in which the mediating effect of the perceived employee relations climate is moderated by subordinate’s gender. Transformational leadership emphasizes interaction and connection between leaders and subordinates [ 66 ], which has a direct impact on the employee relations climate [ 46 ], and the employee’s perception of this climate has a positive impact on employee job satisfaction. In addition, the subordinate’s gender can play a moderating role in the positive role that transformational leadership plays in employee job satisfaction through the perceived employee relations climate. Specifically, male subordinates attach importance to development opportunities and job challenges, and they tend to benefit more from transformational leaders who convey their goals and visions of the company to them [ 65 ]. When employees have a stronger perception of an employee-centered climate and support from the organization, they will have more positive perceptions of the relations climate in the organization, resulting in enhanced employee job satisfaction [ 63 ]. Conversely, female subordinates are relatively conservative and more inclined to avoid competition [ 40 ]. They are lower in achievement orientation and may be less sensitive to the values and visions of their leaders, resulting in fewer perceptions about the employee relations climate, resulting in a lower level of employee job satisfaction [ 66 ]. Accordingly, the following hypothesis was formulated, and Figure 1 illustrates the conceptual framework.

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The conceptual model of the relationship between transformational leadership, employee relations climate, subordinate gender, and employee job satisfaction.

The indirect relationship between transformational leaders and employee job satisfaction via employees’ perceived employee relations climate is moderated by the subordinate’s gender. Specifically, this indirect relationship is stronger for male subordinates and weaker for female subordinates.

3.1. Participants and Procedure

We use survey data to examine our hypotheses. To ensure the anonymity of the research subjects and to allow them to express their opinions truthfully, data for this study were collected from various industries using an online survey platform called WJX.cn [ 68 ]. The platform is a third-party platform that follows very strict sample collection procedures to ensure valid responses, and it provides services that can be used to collect data from the target population. We recruited participants to answer our questionnaire via this platform. According to the ratio criteria (one item needs five responses), we planned to recruit around 250 participants for the survey. After the survey had been posted for one week, we received a total of 248 responses from frontline employees in China and eliminated 37 due to incomplete answers and missing information. This study is a cross-sectional design study. The final number of usable responses was 211, providing an effective recovery rate of 85.1.

Table 1 shows the characteristics of the respondents. In terms of the sex ratio of the respondents, 40.76% were male and 59.24% were female, which reflected the gender balance of the sample. In terms of age, the average age of the participants was 33.06 years old, and the majority of the respondents were 20–29 years old. From the perspective of educational background, tenure, and company industry, the participants were properly distributed for each aspect.

Characteristics of the respondents.

3.2. Measures

Unless otherwise indicated, the measures used five-point Likert scales ranging from 1 “strongly disagree” to 5 “strongly agree”.

Transformational leadership (TL): We used the twenty-six-item scale determining transformational leadership that was proposed by Li and Shi [ 52 ]. An example item from this scale is “My leader endures hardship first and enjoys last”. We averaged the twenty-six-item scores to create a total scale score (Cronbach’s α = 0.912, mean = 4.113, SD = 0.373).

Employee relations climate (ERC). We used the eight-item scale to determine the perceived employee relations climate that was developed by Ngo et al. [ 47 ]. An example item from this scale is “I can fully utilize my knowledge and skills in the organization”. We averaged the eight-item scores to create a total scale score (Cronbach’s α = 0.714, mean = 4.118, SD = 0.455).

Employee job satisfaction (EJS). We used the twenty-item scale measuring employee job satisfaction that was created by Weiss [ 69 ]. An example item from this scale is “I have the opportunity to work independently”. We averaged the twenty-item scores to create a total scale score (Cronbach’s α = 0.875, mean = 4.061, SD = 0.369).

Subordinate gender. We controlled for subordinate gender (0 = male, 1 = female).

Control variables. We controlled for age, education background (1 = high school or below, 2 = bachelor’s degree, 3 = master’s degree), company’s industry (0 = manufacturing, 1 = service industry and others), and working years.

3.3. Analysis Strategy

First, we employed Harman monofactor analysis to analyze the common method biases and CFA analysis to assess the measurement validity. Second, we conducted a correlation analysis. Then, we employed ordinary least squares (OLS) analysis in Mplus 7.0 (Muthén & Muthén, Los Angeles, CA, USA) to test the hypothesis. We further applied the Monte Carlo approach to examine the indirect effect. Then, we conducted a simple slope test to examine the moderation effect. Finally, we conducted the Monte Carlo approach to test the moderated mediation hypothesis.

4.1. Measurement Validation

As the survey was a self-evaluation for employees, we used the Harman monofactor analysis to analyze the common method biases of the sample data [ 70 ]. The results show that the unrotated monofactor interpretation variable was 25.88%, which did not account for half of the total variance that was explained. Additionally, after the data for each variable were centralized, the tolerance range was 0.90–0.98, and the variance inflation factor was less than 2.0. Therefore, it could be determined that there were no severe multicollinearity problems between the variables.

A confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was performed to assess the measurement validity. We subjected the three sub-constructs for the TL, ERC, and EJS to one CFA. As TL contains many levels and because EJS contains a large number of items, we used the item-parceling strategy to improve the model fitness [ 71 , 72 ]. We parceled TL according to the four dimensions and EJS according to factor loading. The results showed that the three-factor model fit the data well (χ 2 = 132, df = 88, p < 0.01, RMSEA = 0.0487, CFI = 0.969, TLI = 0.963). This baseline model was significantly better than the other two-factor models. The first two-factor model combined employee relations climate and employee job satisfaction into one factor (χ 2 = 140, df = 89, ∆χ 2 = 8, ∆df = 1, p < 0.01), the second two-factor model combined transformational leadership and employee job satisfaction into one factor (χ 2 = 246, df = 90, ∆χ 2 = 114, ∆df = 2, p < 0.01), and the third two-factor model combined transformational leadership and employee relations climate into one factor (χ 2 = 181, df = 89, ∆χ 2 = 49, ∆df = 1, p < 0.01). Additionally, this baseline model was also significantly better than the single-factor model (χ 2 =246, df = 90, ∆χ 2 =114, ∆df = 2, p < 0.01). Overall, the discriminant validity of the constructs was confirmed.

4.2. Correlation Analyses

Table 2 shows the correlations and reliabilities of each variable. A significant positive correlation was observed between transformational leadership and the employee relations climate and between transformational leadership and employee job satisfaction. At the same time, there was also a significant positive correlation between the employee relations climate and employee job satisfaction. The relationship between the variables was in line with the expectations of the study.

Correlations and reliabilities.

Note: * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01, *** p < 0.001 (two tailed). Italic and bold numbers in parentheses represent the variable reliability. TL = transformational leadership; ERC = employee relations climate; EJS = employee job satisfaction.

4.3. Hypothesis Tests

We employed OLS in Mplus 7.0 to test our hypotheses. The regression results are shown in Table 3 . Model 1 regressed the effect of employee job satisfaction (EJS) on transformational leadership (TL). Model 2 regressed the effect of EJS on TL and the employee relations climate (ERC) simultaneously. Model 3 regressed the effect of ERC on TL, gender, and their interaction term. Moreover, Model 4 regressed the effect of EJS on TL, gender, the interaction term of TL and gender, and ERC simultaneously.

Hierarchical multiple regression of employee relations climate and employee job satisfaction.

Note: * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01. TL = transformational leadership. The results of the standardized regression coefficients.

H1 argued that the employee relations climate mediated the relationship between transformational leadership and employee job satisfaction. Incorporating the results of Model 1 and Model 2, we can observe that the positive relationship between transformational leadership and employee job satisfaction remained significant after adding the employee relations climate into the regression model. However, the coefficient decreased significantly, indicating that the employee relations climate played a partially intermediate role between transformational leadership and employee job satisfaction. To examine the indirect effects, we applied the Monte Carlo approach to generate the confidence intervals (CIs) [ 73 ]. We constructed bias-corrected 95% CIs for the indirect effects based on 2000 re-samples. Bootstrap analysis showed that the mediating effect of transformational leadership on employee job satisfaction via employee relations climate was significant (indirect effect = 0.392, CI = [0.294, 0.514], not containing 0). Therefore, H1 was further supported.

We tested H2, which considered whether subordinate gender played a moderating role between transformational leadership and the employee relations climate. As shown in Table 3 , the interaction term between transformational leadership and subordinate gender had a significant effect on the employee relations climate in Model 3. To examine the moderating role of subordinate gender more visually, we plotted the moderating role of the employee relations climate in Figure 2 and conducted a simple slope test. Figure 2 suggests that the positive effect of transformational leadership on the employee relations climate was more significant for male subordinates (b = 0.394, p < 0.01). In contrast, the effect of transformational leadership on the employee relations climate was relatively weaker when the subordinate’s gender was female (b = 0.308, p < 0.01), and the difference between the two conditions was significant (b = −0.086, p < 0.05). Therefore, H2 was supported.

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The influence of transformational leadership on employee relations climate under different subordinate genders.

We further examined the moderated mediation model in which the subordinate gender should moderate the indirect effect. The results of Model 4 in Table 3 show that the interaction term between transformational leadership and subordinate gender was no longer significant but that the employee relations climate predicted employee job satisfaction. The bootstrap analysis results in Table 4 showed that the mediation effect of transformational leadership on employee job satisfaction via the employee relations climate was significant when the subordinates were male; when the subordinates were female, the above relationship remained significant. Additionally, the difference was significant, and the indirect effect was stronger for male subordinates. Therefore, H3 was supported.

The moderated mediation model test.

Note: Bootstrapping sample size = 2000.

5. Discussion

5.1. theoretical contributions.

This study offers several theoretical contributions. First, our study reveals a new mechanism of transformational leadership. Previous studies have verified the relationship between transformational leadership and employee job satisfaction from intrinsic motivation and trust in leaders [ 17 , 18 , 19 ]. Recent studies found that the employee’s job satisfaction will also be affected by the perceived organizational interactions [ 24 , 25 , 26 ]. Therefore, we offer a new account from the perspective of employees’ perceived relationship with the organization to discuss the effect of transformational leadership on employee job satisfaction. Specifically, we examined the mediator of perceived employee relations climate. Transformational leadership emphasizes the connection and interaction between leaders and employees. The behavior of transformational leaders affects the formation of the employee relations climate within the company, which will further influence employee job satisfaction after employees perceive a positive employee relations climate. Our empirical conclusions are consistent with those of the previously published literature on employee job satisfaction, which indicates that the organizational climate is positively related to employee job satisfaction [ 27 ].

Second, this study contributes to the literature on the boundary conditions of transformational leadership based on a subordinate gender perspective. Studies of gender differences in transformational leadership focus on leaders’ gender [ 38 , 39 ]. However, studying whether and why transformational leadership produces different effects between male and female subordinates is also examined in the literature [ 74 ]. In previous studies, subordinate gender was generally only used as a control variable [ 63 ]. This study empirically regarded subordinate gender as the moderator variable and found that subordinate gender moderated the relationship between transformational leadership and the employee relations climate as it was perceived by the employees, in turn, affecting employee job satisfaction. Therefore, this study expands the gender theory as it pertains to the effectiveness of transformational leadership. In the future, research on the subordinate gender is worthy of attention in transformational leadership.

Last but not least, our study enriches the research on employee relations climate by examining its individual-level effectiveness. Existing research has focused on the impact of the employee relations climate at the organizational level. For example, research found that the employee relations climate had a positive impact on organizational performance [ 42 , 43 ]. We further empirically found that the employee relations climate mediated the relationship between transformational leadership and employee job satisfaction. In addition, subordinate gender played a moderating role in the mediation of the employee relations climate between transformational leadership and employee job satisfaction. Our results provide insight into how the employee relations climate has a positive impact on individual outcomes.

5.2. Management Implications

The present research shows how employee job satisfaction can be effectively improved through transformational leadership behavior. The following implications can be drawn from the present research:

First, we suggest that organizations choose supervisors with transformational leadership traits when recruiting. Because transformational leadership can effectively predict employee job satisfaction [ 13 , 14 ], the organization can add relevant questions during the recruitment test and interview to examine the leader’s moral qualities, their level of concern for their employees, and the candidate’s ability to plan goals. For managers who do not have these traits, it is essential to organize training to help these managers acquire transformational leadership skills, such as how to help employees at work and in life, improve their capabilities and leadership charm, and strengthen their interactions with their employees.

Second, organizations should carry out training programs to improve manager awareness and their ability to establish an employee relations climate that is perceived as positive by their employees, as climate mediates the relationship between transformational leadership and employee job satisfaction. Bowen and Ostroff argued that organizational intangible resources, such as organizational climate, create sustainable competitive advantages for the company; therefore, it is important to manage them properly [ 37 ]. This paper reminds organizations to put more effort into creating a positive employee relations climate. Transformational leadership as the incarnation of an organization has an important influence on forming the social climate [ 30 ]. They need to promote the formation of a positive employee relations climate and consciously enhance employees’ perception of the employee relations climate.

Finally, transformational leaders should notice that male employees and female employees perceive the effectiveness of transformational leadership differently. Previous research showed that the impact of transformational leadership on employee job satisfaction varied according to employees’ individual characteristics, such as education background [ 75 ]. Our study finds that subordinate gender also plays a moderating role in the efforts taken by transformational leaders to improve employee job satisfaction through the perceived employee relations climate. Specifically, this relationship is more pronounced for male subordinates. Therefore, the desire to improve employee job satisfaction by establishing a positive employee relations climate is more evident in organizations with more male subordinates.

5.3. Limitations and Further Research

Our study has some limitations, and these should be considered in future research. First, all of the hypotheses were tested using cross-sectional data, which did not allow accurate conclusions about the causal relationships between variables. We encourage future researchers to use a longitudinal design to examine the causal relationships between transformational leadership and employee job satisfaction. We also recommend that researchers use a mixed method, for example, conduct interviews and use field samples. Second, this article studies the concept of transformational leadership as a whole, but transformational leadership consists of multiple dimensions. Future research should continue to investigate how different dimensions under transformational leadership affect employee job satisfaction. Third, this study examined the role of the employee relations climate as perceived by employees at the individual level. Future research could study the impact of the employee relations climate at the team level.

6. Conclusions

This study provided a theoretical model of transformational leadership, the perceived employee relations climate, subordinate gender, and employee job satisfaction. The results showed that the perceived employee relations climate partially mediated the relationship between transformational leadership and employee job satisfaction. Subordinate gender moderated the relationship between transformational leadership and the perceived employee relations climate. In addition, the indirect relationship between transformational leaders and employee job satisfaction via perceived employee relations climate was moderated by subordinate gender, and this indirect relationship was stronger for male subordinates. This study offers a new account of the mechanisms of transformational leadership and clarifies a boundary condition for its effectiveness.

Author Contributions

C.C., X.D. and J.L contributed to the conceptualization and research design of the study; X.D. collected data and performed data analysis; C.C. provided funding support; X.D. and C.C. drafted the paper; J.L. made revisions and provided supervision. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

This research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No.71902023), Shanghai Philosophy and Social Science Foundation (No.2019EGL012), and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No.2232018H-09).

Institutional Review Board Statement

The study was conducted in accordance with the recommendations of Ethical Guidelines of Glorious Sun School of Business and Management, Donghua University, and approved by Glorious Sun School of Business and Management, Donghua University.

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

Conflicts of interest.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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

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Literature Review - Job Satisfaction

The assignment requires a report structure for a research evidence review (literature review) with a word count of 1600 words. The report should include an introduction, the main body focusing on relevant models, concepts, theories, frameworks, and articles, a conclusion with a clear overall perception and implications for further research, references, bibliography, and appendices.

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