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Job Satisfaction and Job Performance

Across a variety of studies, research shows that job satisfaction is an important predictor of job
performance. A happy worker is a productive worker. On average, the correlation between
satisfaction and productivity is about r = .30. The magnitude of this correlation is similar to the
ability of standardized tests to predict college grades, mammograms to predict breast cancer,
alcohol to increase aggression, and Viagra to increase sexual performance – in other words, job
satisfaction is vitally important to worker productivity. To the extent that the university takes
steps to increase employee satisfaction, graduate employees will be more efficient in completing
tasks, more thoughtful and less stressed in teaching, and more productive in conducting and
publishing research.

Judge, T., Thoresen, C., Bono, J., & Patton, G. (2001). The job satisfaction-job performance
relationship: A qualitative and quantitative review. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 376-407.

In a similar meta-analysis, analyzing data from over 50,000 workers, again job satisfaction was
estimated to modestly correlate with job performance, r = .30.

As the above diagram shows, the relationship between job satisfaction and job performance is
complex, and likely cyclical. Studies have shown that increased job satisfaction leads to
increased motivation (behavioral intentions), less apathy (low performance as withdrawal), and
better worker mood, all of which increase efficiency and overall quality of job performance.
Humphrey, J., Nahrgang, J., & Morgenson, F. (2007). Integrating motivational, social, and
contextual work design features: A meta-analytic summary and theoretical extension of the work
design literature. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 1332-1356.

This is a meta-analysis documenting the relationship between various measures of job

satisfaction and various measures of job performance. In general, correlations are about r = .30,
which indicate modest effects.

Wright, T., Cropanzano, R., & Bonett, D. (2007). The moderating role of employee positive well
being on the relation between job satisfaction and job performance. Journal of Occupational
Health Psychology, 12, 93-104.

In a study of over 5,000 employees, employees self-reported their level of psychological well-
being. This was then compared to supervisor ratings of job performance. The correlation
between satisfaction and performance was r = .36, indicating a modest effect.

Schleicher, D., Watt, J., & Greguras, G. (2004). Reexamining the job satisfaction–performance
relationship: The complexity of attitudes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 167-177.

Across two separate studies, using several different measures of job satisfaction, they found that
worker satisfaction modestly predicted job performance, with correlations ranging from r = .23
to r = .38.

Kieffer, K., Schinka, J., & Curtiss, G. (2004). Person-environment congruence and personality
domains in the prediction of job performance and work quality. Journal of Counseling
Psychology, 51, 168-177.

A key predictor of job performance is environmental congruence, or the fit between person and
environment. Thus, environments that facilitate worker satisfaction are predictive of increased
job performance and efficiency.

Jacobs, P., Tytherleigh, M., Webb, C., & Cooper, C. (2007). Predictors of work performance
among higher education employees: An examination using the asset model of stress.
International Journal of Stress Management, 14, 199-210.

A variety of variables related to job satisfaction have been show to predict performance. For
example job performance was predicted by work-life balance (r = .32), job security (r = .29),
resources (r = .34), employer commitment (r = .36), and pay and benefits (r = .26).