A study of the relationship between benchmarked factor improvements and employee satisfaction : an empirical study of Johannesburg water.
Companies are constantly searching for ways to enhance productivity and the bottom line. One of the assumptions is that increased job satisfaction can contribute in this regard with improvements in motivation and productivity. The organisation that is the subject for this study is a utility company formed by the City of Johannesburg to deliver a comprehensive water and sanitation service to the City. The creation of the company was preceded by a high level of unhappiness from organised labour and consequently many of the transferred employees. In order to give effect to its mandate of providing a cost effective and quality service to the citizens whilst protecting the environment, the company adopted a number of benchmark and other measurements across the board including the measurement of levels of employee satisfaction. The research focused on the employee perceptions of job satisfaction in the company based on the head office component with the previous survey results taken 18 months earlier serving as comparison. It was therefore possible to also evaluate the relevance of results obtained with the job satisfaction survey. The results of a benchmarking exercise in the Human Resources division conducted towards the end of 2003 was also available and served as a point of reference in comparing job satisfaction levels with the results of the benchmarks that were developed based on international best practice and compared the company to other organisations in the utility sector. The study examined the possibility of the development of strategies by the Human Resources function aimed at eliminating factors that cause dissatisfaction and improving or introducing those that led to increases in levels of satisfaction. The results indicate that it is not appropriate to concentrate only on the role of Human Resources in its efforts to influence job satisfaction and that high levels of job satisfaction or otherwise do not necessarily have a relationship to the perception of the efficiency of the Human Resources function when compared to the results of human resources benchmarks. Although the literature supports the importance of job satisfaction as a factor in productivity improvement, the findings point to the need to follow an integrated approach based on sound practice and measurement of metrics as well as the incorporation of strategies that ensure that job satisfaction is not negatively affected by striving for excellence in other areas. Even though the research provided support for the Herzberg theories on Hygiene (maintenance) factors and Motivators as predictors of job satisfaction it is the author's conclusion that the research points to the fact that results of Human Resources benchmarked factors are not the sole determinants of job satisfaction. It is, based on the research results, possible to conclude that even if the important satisfiers are not always adequately addressed, sound Human Resources practice can assist in ensuring that the levels of satisfaction do not become terminally low and cause high levels of attrition or detrimentally affect productivity with the resultant affect on benchmarked factors that compare poorly to that of the target organisations.