Theory Of Work Adjustment Management Essay

This theory implies that people and their environments interact. This interaction happens because both have needs that have to be satisfied and this often through each other. For people to satisfy the needs of their environments, they will need the right behaviors, flexibility, skills, attitudes, experiences, knowledge and other tools. Satisfaction levels may fluctuate and for environments to satisfy people, they need to provide the right rewards, autonomy, job content, ethics, tools, equipment, etc. For both environment and people to satisfy the other, they need to fulfill each other’s requirements as much as possible though it is said that the perfect match does not exist and that people and environments evolve and change due to evolving skills, knowledge and factors affecting the environment. For the employer to perceive the employee as satisfactory, there needs to be a skill set match with the job and the organization. The more the employee’s requirements are met, the more the satisfaction he will perceive and therefore feel competent and committed.

René Dawis, George England and Lloyd Lofquist (1964) propose that in their career, individuals seek to satisfy:

Achievement – To progress and find maturity in their career.

Comfort – To work in a safe environment.

Status – To be recognized for work done and effort provided.

Altruism – To earn and provide for honestly.

Safety – To find stability and be able to stay that way for as long as possible.

Autonomy – To be able to be self sufficient when making decisions and taking actions.

Holland’s Theory of Vocational Personalities in Work Environment

John Holland points out that the probability of career choices determining job satisfaction is high. This theory suggests that people find satisfaction in being with others having the same personality type and it applies to people in job environments. People also seek for careers that fit their personality, morale, beliefs, attitude and skills and where they can make the most out of them.

Holland’s work implies that there are six personality types and same number and type of environments; Realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising and conventional. Each personality type has particular areas of interest, specifications and requirements.

Table 2. Interests by personality type

Personality Type



Using hands, tools or machinery. Make, fix, assemble, build thing, etc.


Question, research, investigate, observe, experiment, discover and solve problems, etc


Express themselves using communication; art, words, music, video, drama, etc


Work with people, inform, educate, coach, treat, help, serve, etc


Business type, leading, supervising, meeting people, talking, leading, etc


Planning, follow procedures, organizing and accuracy, etc.

Linking personality type to the similar environment will produce congruence. It is therefore more likely that success will follow people matching their environment type as they will be more satisfied being compatible and in harmony with their work. Incongruence may bring people to look for more appropriate environments to evolve and find stability

Graphic of personality types matched to careers

Figure 1. Matching persons with compatible career


Self-concept Theory of Career Development

Donald Super (1990) found the link between age, career choices, career decisions and productivity. According to this concept, a person’s productivity at work changes continuously during his career. These changes may be attributed to experience, changing work environment, changing personal needs (promotion, better job, recognition, retirement, etc). The self-concept theory is an evolution of Eli Ginzberg’s work which has time as a core element that affects a person’s perception and thereafter decisions. As time goes a person’s needs, experience, perception and maturity change so decisions are calibrated and made accordingly.

The life stage developmental framework has been put forward having the following stages:

Growth – (birth -14yrs) – Development of self-concept, attitude, needs and general world of work.

Exploration – (15 – 24yrs) – “Trying out” through classes, work, hobbies, uncertain choices and skills development.

Establishment – (24 – 44yrs) – Entry level skill building and stabilization through work experience.

Maintenance (or management) – (45-64yrs) – Constant tuning process to progress in position.

Disengagement – (65+yrs) – Reduce output, prepare for retirement.

Gottfredson’s Theory of Circumscription and Compromise

Both Gottfredson’s (1981, 1996, 2002, 2005) and Donald Super’s (1990) theories believe in the importance of self-concept. Self-concept is an individual’s perception of the environment in relation to his/her personality.

Career satisfaction is believed to arise from the alignment of career with self-concept. Career aspirations start in childhood where one tries to understand who does what in terms of social identity. Stereotypes are formed (gender, social status, prestige, intelligence) and maintained in part due to society and family.

By removing barriers that they imposed upon themselves or the society imposed to restrict certain types of jobs which narrowed their career interests, people may find that they have more choices and more room to improve. Original choices were probably biased and some careers were possibly ignored due to lack of information or pervious lack of interest translating into missed opportunities. This study suggests that satisfaction may come with experience, giving a broader view of the career world and by changing jobs.

Social Cognitive Career Theory

We learn in different ways such as through observation, experience, feedback, etc. Reward and punishment are also inhibitors for learning and moulds for behavior.

Learning is a continuous process as the world around us keeps changing. It is important to learn as it provides new data or modifies/updates existing ones that help shape our knowledge, values, behavior, preferences and skills that guide us in our actions. The social cognitive career theory (SCCT) is built and expanded on core constructs from a learning theory; the social cognitive theory (SCT) of Albert Bandura. The central idea is that there is interaction between environmental and individual variables as well as self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and selection objective to predict academic and career choice performance.

The SCT recognizes the importance of a person’s cognitive processes and mechanisms in channeling incentive and actions. Lent et al. (1994, 1996), explain that performance is affected by and results from the input of self-efficiency, past performance and outcome expectations. Bandura’s triadic reciprocality concept suggests that a person, the behavior, and the environment are all looped together to create learning in the person. Consequently the social cognitive career theory’s triadic reciprocality, is a feedback loop between performance, achievements and behavior.

The SCCT acknowledges that components of self-efficacy and outcome expectations predict vocational choice and seek to explain three main questions related to future performance;

How do interests in academic and vocational areas develop?

How are educational and career related choices made?

How are educational and career performance outcomes achieved?

Three concepts that affect career decision making process have been identified as self-efficacy, outcome expectations and personal goals (represented in the Social cognitive career theory performance model) ;

Self-efficacy is belief in one’s own judgment and abilities to thrive in particular situations which result in the way people behave and feel.

Outcome expectation is what is generally expected from certain scenarios. Three expected outcomes have been identified as social (support/lack thereof), physical (compensation, rewards, status, recognition, etc) and self (satisfaction and self-fulfillment) (Bandura, 1986).

Personal goals are used as guides.

The goals which one wishes to achieve within educational/career interests are the goals represented in the performance model.

Full-size image (7 K)

Figure 2: Social cognitive career theory performance model

Career choice tools

There exist many tools to help future employees make the appropriate career choice and predict career success and satisfaction:

Holland’s Strong Interest Inventory

The MBTI indicator

Online career compatibility tests

These tools must only be used to get an overview and those concerned not completely rely on the results because one may get another perspective while in the job. There are also other dimensions that may affect one’s experience in a job as is discussed in the form of components leading to job satisfaction/dissatisfaction.

High performance work systems

Image can carry the horns and halo effect of a certain organization. No one wants to be associated to a bad image or reputation therefore organizations must perform whether in the private or public sector. High performance management systems are human resource practices planned to make the most effective use of human assets by aligning best practices (recruitment, selection, performance appraisal, training and development, reward, etc) to achieve maximum output (better skills, knowledge, confidence, maturity, satisfaction, etc). HPWS started in the manufacturing sector and are spreading to other sectors to close gaps between human resources, technologies, and the mission and vision of organizations. This system is supposed to make rigorous use of the elements of employment cycle plan from the very beginning by attracting the finest, hiring the best qualified persons fit for the job, providing appropriate training to gain skills required and enhance motivation by rewarding fittingly. HPWS are a combination of steady, consecutive and overlapping best practices, investing in human resources for the organization’s own benefits.

Table 3. Human Resources Practices



Self-directed Work Team

Self-sufficient, semi-autonomous work groups, self-regulating work teams or simply teams. The work group (in some cases operating without a supervisor) is responsible for a whole product or service and makes decisions about task assignments and work methods. The team may be responsible for services such as maintenance, purchasing, quality control, and hiring.

Employee Problem Solving Groups (Including

Quality Circles)

Structured employee participation groups in which individuals from a particular work area meet regularly to identify and suggest improvements to work-related problems. The goals of these groups are improved quality and productivity; there are no direct rewards for group activity; group problem solving training is provided; and the

group’s only power is to suggest changes to management.

Job Rotation

A planned rotation of workers among different jobs.

Total Quality Management


Programs that focus on providing customers with error-free products or services through a process of continuous improvement.

Gain Sharing

Gain sharing plans are based on a formula that shares some portion of gains in productivity, quality, cost-effectiveness, or other performance indicators. The gains are shared in the form of bonuses with all employees in an organization (such as a mill). They typically use employee suggestion committees and they differ from profit sharing and ESOPs in the basis of the formula is some set of local performance measures, not company profits. Examples include Scanlon plan, the Impro share Plan, the Rucker Plan, and various custom-designed plans

Employment Security


Corporate or Mill Policy designed to prevent layoffs of permanent employees.

Pay for Skill Program

An alternative to traditional job-based pay that sets pay levels based on how many skills employees have or how many jobs they potentially can do, not on the job they are currently holding. Also called pay for skills, pay for knowledge, and competency-based pay.



A bonus plan that shares some portion of mill or corporation profits with employees. It does not include dividend sharing.

Removal of Shift


Elimination of a level of management (including shift supervisor)


Psychological contract

The public sector has many levels of hierarchy and this may be contributing to psychological contracts being unclear or lost. Contrary to legal contracts, psychological contracts are not written down; they are mutual, unspoken agreements or acknowledgement between the employee and the employer/management (Rousseau and Tijoriwala, 1998). Psychological contracts being un-discussed are sometimes hard to understand; Where to draw the line and what are included in the contract may stretch in complexity and be problematic as those concerned may be after their own interests which is described by Rousseau (1995) as the ‘agreement is in the eye of the beholder’. Psychological contracts are important to study as they deal with elements such as remuneration, work conditions, rights and have the potential to motivate, balance commitment and the contrary as well (Schein, 1978). Being higher in the hierarchy, employers have the upper hand and they can use this to promote a climate of ‘people-building’ instead of ‘people-using’ for the organization’s benefit (Guest and Conway, 2002).

Chapter 4: Literature review

To err is human but to err within the work place, what are/can be the repercussions?

Theories of job satisfaction may have inspired HRM which believes in managing work and people towards desired ends (Boxall et al, 2007). Many researchers have over decades carried out studies on job satisfaction and its components and have noticed the importance of job satisfaction on a variety of organizational variables (Chu et al., 2003).

Organizations can achieve efficiency through properly managed assets. Along with capital, work methods, capabilities, knowledge, organizational processes, information, firm attributes and knowledge, human resource is an important contributor to the smooth running of an organization (Daft, 1983). Without motivated human resource, organizations will be unproductive even if they have all necessary production materials. This proves how important human resources are.

Human resource management has humanized the work place providing workers better treatment and acknowledging that people must be treated decently so that they give their maximum to their organization. The Harvard model of HRM devised by Beer et al sees workers as resources that cannot be managed in the same manner as other resources of the organization.

Morale is often defined as being equivalent to job satisfaction (Guion, 1958). Locke (1976) defined job satisfaction as the “positive emotional state resulting from appraisal of one’s job”. Job satisfaction describes the feelings, outlooks or preferences of employees towards their work (Chen, 2011). Job satisfaction is expressed by positive/favorable attitudes consequently dissatisfaction by negative/unfavorable attitudes with which employees view their occupation and both the internal and external environment of the organization can be the cause. Sousa-Poza and Sousa-Poza imply that job satisfaction is determined by the balance between inputs (education, working, time, and effort) and out puts (wages, recognition, importance, fringe benefits, status, task importance and intrinsic aspects of the job).

Cognitive Component

An individual’s perceptions, opinion, beliefs and expectations regarding the organization are the focus of his or her cognitions.

Reward. Individuals develop expectations regarding their pay through negotiations, comparison to others, and promises made. Satisfaction is increased when these salary expectations are met. Likewise individuals develop an expected timetable for advancement. The extent to which these timetables are met also influences the individuals’ cognitive evaluation.

Managerial. Satisfaction with one’s boss is a function of how he or she meets your mental model (expectations) of how a leader should behave. (See Leadership Behavior)

Task. The extent to which one’s assigned task and responsibilities meet role expectations is the major determinant of an individual’s cognitive assessment of his or her job. Work designs that include variables such as autonomy, responsibility and tak identity tend to lead to high levels of satisfaction with work because they allow for challenge which when met, lead to validation of important skills and competencies.

Social Inducement System. How coworkers behave relative to your expectations of them and how they help or hinder your job performance is the basis of the cognitive appraisal of this inducement system.

The corrections service has an undeniably important place in the criminal justice system and society (Goodstein & MacKenzie, 1989). The MPS has over 900 officers working to provide services under the care of the Prime minister’s office and a terrible service would negatively impact the PMO. As hypothesized, by concepts of job satisfaction, unhappy workers would mean less commitment to the job, downplaying the abilities of the decision makers.

Ineffective public organizations have very often paid high prices for their negligence in the form of compensation which is an unfortunate loss for the tax payers. It goes without saying that public organizations have to assume the responsibilities vested in them. As far as the wellbeing of prisoners are concerned, there are countless human rights organizations in existence, enough to make the MPS toe the line but is it at the cost of good job content for prisons officers and senior prisons officers?

Previous Research; Job satisfaction

Economists, psychologists and career counselors all have an increasing interest in job satisfaction which is a vast and engaging subject. Many theories have tried to explain the when, how and why of job satisfaction. There are many factors that can influence job satisfaction and previous research can be used as guidelines but must not be an excuse to stereotype similar organizations, variables and results. Job satisfaction measures a number of factors some of which are subjective and psychological. Others are objective such as work conditions, the management, the organization’s rules and regulations and the like.

Figure : Determinants of job satisfaction


S.P. Robbins (1997) refers to job satisfaction as the difference between the amount of rewards employees receive and the amount they believe they should receive which can be in monetary or non-monetary terms. The notion of job satisfaction has emerged with contributing factors namely nature of the work, relation with coworkers, promotion opportunities, present pay and supervision (Stephen P Robbins, 1997) and immediate working conditions (John W. Newstrom and Keith Davis, 1996).

Porter and Lawler (1972) through their research, identify job satisfaction as one-dimensional where, someone is usually either satisfied or dissatisfied with his/her job. Many other researchers disagree with this ideology, for instance Smith, Kendall and Hulin argue the contrary where job satisfaction is multidimensional as each employee may perceive different levels of satisfaction and dissatisfaction which can arise from each facet of one’s job for example the pay, job content, supervisor, work environment, relations with co-workers, training, autonomy, management style, health facilities, relations with supervisor, procedural justice, tangible aids, office tools, participation in decisions, support of management, fringe benefits, promotion, etc. Reward does not need to be in monetary terms as explained by Ackerlof & Kranton (2003) where psychic reward can be generated from the employee’s self-esteem and this confirms the theory that job satisfaction is multi-dimensional.

Through their findings, Gagné & Deci (2005) argue that employees’ autonomy, backed by managerial support, positively affect both job satisfaction and job performance. Pathik and Pestonjee (1997) found that work environment has influence on job satisfaction of employees and that politics-free work environment is significantly correlated to job satisfaction. Holmes (1997) contributes to the job satisfaction theories; finding that decentralization of authority affects job satisfaction levels. He also found employees with stock ownerships and as such shared incentives including profit sharing, provided job satisfaction. Chapman (1998) states that a worker working as a team, experiences better job satisfaction compared to those working solo. It is apparent that there is a positive link between employee’s job satisfaction and welfare programs including maternity leave, benefits, transport allowance, bonus, medical allowance, etc (Bonner, 1997). Applebum’s (1997) study links job content in terms of variety, complexity and independence to job satisfaction. Clark (1999) found that current salary does not positively impact job satisfaction but increments over a period of time do. Opportunity for promotion and career advancement provide employees with a positive view of their work and organization (Schneider, Gunnarson, & Wheeler, 1992). Clark (1997) and Golden & Wiens-Tuers (2006) found that workload had a strong relationship with job satisfaction where excessive work load led to job dissatisfaction. Education level has been found to affect job satisfaction in many different ways depending on the other factors it is measured against such as age, job and pay (Sousa-Poza & Sousa-Poza, 2000, Skalli et al. 2007). In Kalleberg and Loscocco (1983) findings, older workers in the USA feel higher satisfaction than younger ones. Shapiro and Stern’s (1975) USA study shows a difference in the perception of job satisfaction between professional males and females with male employees having higher job satisfaction. Organizational commitment results in better performance, less absenteeism and turnover claim Mowday, Porter and Steers (1982). Spector (1985) found motivation and quality performance emanating from satisfied employees resulting in less quits behavior and absenteeism.

Theories of job satisfaction

2.2.1 Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs

People behave in certain ways because they are motivated by certain factors (Arnold et al, 1991). People have needs and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suggests that people will feel unfulfilled until those needs are met. Unsatisfied needs motivate people and the motivating factor is gone when the needs are mostly satisfied consequently the person automatically moves on to fulfill the next need and so on. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs developed by Abraham Maslow is a model consisting of five levels of needs to be satisfied, starting from the lower level where the most basic needs are to be met to the upper level where one finds self-actualisation.

According to Maslow’s theory, in the management context, employee motivation can be addressed through an understanding of the physiological needs, safety needs, social needs, esteem needs and self-actualization needs in the employment context by addressing issues such as: minimum wages, number and length lunch breaks, rest time, health and safety, pension schemes, job security, social events, team building, work recognition and appreciation, training and development and promotion schemes.

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