When and why high performers feel job dissatisfaction: A resource flow approach
Jisung Park (Chosun University), Heesun Chae (Seoul National University), Hyun Jung Kim (Sangji Youngseo College), 2017, 45(4), 617–628

We’ve all heard about millennials and their “new” views toward the workplace. It seems that some of this discussion is marvelous exaggeration but there are some interesting statistics about how younger workers’ attitudes are, in fact, making waves at work! In a 2016 Gallup report it was revealed that 21% of millennials had switched jobs in the previous year—that’s three times the number of nonmillennials (Dugan & Nelson, 2017). The idea that a person will continue at the same job for her whole working life has been shaken up and for many no longer applies, so employers are searching for ways to retain talent and reduce turnover. 

In this environment, the recent study by Park, Chae, and Kim adds noteworthy findings. While employees may focus on increasing rewards for high performers in an effort to keep them satisfied in their work, something else significant may be happening here. Even well-rewarded high performers may leave their jobs. Why? Using the conservation of resources theory, the authors investigated how a flow of resources could influence job satisfaction. They struck upon an important variable: role overload. Typically, high performers can end up burdened with more work than they can handle. Difficult tasks are given them to complete, and the work of others may be checked or redone by the more competent worker. This resource output results in feeling depleted and in reduced satisfaction. To counter this depletion of resources, the authors suggest that having a good relationship with leadership—specifically, a better relationship with leadership than one’s colleagues have—replenishes the high performer. 

The results of the study supported these hypotheses. A drain on resources (role overload) increased job dissatisfaction for high performers, and feeling that in comparison to colleagues they had a better relationship with their bosses improved job satisfaction. Managers and employers can learn that extrinsic rewards may not keep their star performers happy; whether they perceive a workload as a challenge or a heavy burden could make the difference about deciding whether to stay or go. 

I loved this article, and how social psychology opens up our view of what might seem simple, to reveal the intricacies of human behaviors. Not only is it relevant to a complex workplace, it shows the value of searching into the function of the fascinating human mind!

Dugan, A., & Nelson, B. (2017, June 8). 3 trends that will disrupt your workplace forever: Millennials at high risk of being replaced by artificial intelligence. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/211799/trends-disrupt-workplace-forever.aspx 

Alex Cheyne | Managing Editor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal