Contrary to popular belief, job satisfaction and productivity are not obviously and directly linked, although in many cases people who are satisfied with their work are more productive. The important fact to keep in mind is that job satisfaction does not cause an increase in productivity, although these two states may exist together. Generally speaking, both job satisfaction and productivity are important to an effective workplace, but changes in one category do not necessarily reflect changes in the other. Job satisfaction and productivity are, however, connected in that workers who bear specific attitudes and personalities may be predisposed to high levels of productivity or high levels of satisfaction independent of the job at hand.
When attempting to improve productivity, many companies look first to improving job satisfaction. This is because many people believe that workers who are happy or satisfied are naturally more productive. In many cases and cultures, this is true, but it is not a natural state of affairs. In order to increase productivity without using force or reprimand, a company must instill in its workers a sense of investment in their own productivity.
Creating a connection between job satisfaction and productivity is often accomplished by creating a workplace culture that values productivity and then by weeding out those employees who do not achieve satisfaction within that culture. By getting rid of those individuals who are not satisfied when they are productive, a person can create a group of people for whom job satisfaction and productivity are highly intertwined. The company, however, must work to maintain the investment of the individuals in the company through job enrichment and other token gestures that will ensure the connection is maintained.
Companies that attempt to adjust productivity through improving job satisfaction are often disappointed, but companies that attempt to increase productivity through force without considering how this will affect job satisfaction are often in danger of losing employees. Increasing productivity often makes workers feel that their work is less valuable, because they do not get paid more for doing more. Negating this effect by making efforts to increase job satisfaction in other realms is important for worker morale and for maintaining positive attitudes about the company.
Job satisfaction is itself a difficult category to isolate and diagnose. When talking about job satisfaction with employees as it relates to productivity, the employees themselves may not even understand what measures could be taken in order to make improvements to the existing mode of operation. Experimentation and flexibility may elucidate areas that are problematic, and increased productivity can often be achieved without a reduction in job satisfaction.