Teamwork, Sense of Contribution Key to Workplace Satisfaction, Motivation: Study


by News Bureau on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011


CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Dec. 19, 2011 – The level of teamwork and a participant’s contribution to a job are keys to job satisfaction and motivation, according to a study by a business faculty member and MBA student at Southeast Missouri State University.

The way in which groups work together and individual group members contribute have a profound impact on levels of satisfaction and motivation, the researchers found. Furthermore, the number of rules to which participants much adhere also impact job satisfaction, according to the researchers. Too many rules and extremely defined roles inhibit job performance, they say.

Dr. Erin Fluegge Woolf, a professor of management at Southeast, and Kim Donovan of Ste. Genevieve, Mo., a December graduate of Southeast’s MBA program, teamed up on the study. The two have been invited to present their research paper, “Live, Laugh, LEGO: Understanding The Job Characteristics Model Through An Experiential Exercise and Student Reactions,” at the MBAA International 2012 conference March 29 in Chicago. The paper also was selected as the Teaching Management Track Award winner. The North American Management Society reviewed the paper and selected it for presentation at the conference.

The duo’s study involved an experiential activity based on the impact five job characteristics have on developing a satisfying and motivating work environment. The classroom exercise involved 88 students who were placed in groups in one of four task conditions: bureaucratic, organic, downsized or ambiguous. The groups next participated in a LEGO building activity and were then asked to complete a survey. The goal of the Learning with LEGOs exercise was to demonstrate how to recognize “factors that can inhibit employees from putting forth their finest work.”

The research duo say that while this activity was developed to be performed in a college classroom setting, it would be interesting to see if results actually differ if employees within a work organization were asked to participate.

Their findings show that the relationship between core job characteristics and the level of participant satisfaction “is crucial for an organization to run at an optimal performance.”

The researchers found that participants believe time constraints and detailed instructions to be very important factors to feeling satisfied and motivated with a job. Participants in the study indicated that a time constraint added a level of pressure to complete an activity. Time either played a positive role in motivating them or became a burden due to the level of ambiguity certain groups in the study faced. Detailed instructions also proved to be a contributing factor to satisfaction and motivation. Groups lacking a set of detailed instructions found the ambiguity to be overwhelming, thus affecting their work performance and reducing the amount of satisfaction felt by those group participants.

Fluegge Woolf and Donovan say their exercise can be used as a tool to help individuals learn about factors that contribute or prevent satisfaction and motivation in a work environment.

“This activity has provided insight as to what factors are necessary for people to feel motivated and satisfied within a work environment,” they say.

“It is crucial in the current business world to understand the key factors that motivate employees in the workplace,” they added.

According to the study, “It appears that some companies today are more concerned with financial preservation and cost cutting techniques, rather than focusing on and enhancing the true assets of an organization: the human workforce.”

The study concludes that “in order to continue to understand what makes the workforce of today ‘tick,’ it is beneficial to continue to study the key drivers that employees deem important.”