The Connection Between Self-Esteem and Job Satisfaction

Topic(s): job performance, job satisfaction
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (2013)
Article: When is success not satisfying? Integrating regulatory focus and approach/avoidance motivation theories to explain the relation between core self-evaluation and job satisfaction
Authors: D. Lance Ferris, Russell E. Johnson, Christopher C. Rosen, Emilija Djurdjevic, Chu-Hsiang (Daisy) Chang, & James A. Tan
Reviewed by: Scott Charles Sitrin

Previous research (e.g., Chang, Ferris, Johnson, Rosen, & Tan, 2012) has shown that core self-evaluation – an umbrella term that includes self-esteem, self-efficacy, locus of control, and emotional stability – predicts job satisfaction. Simply put, if an employee thinks highly of herself, she tends to be satisfied with her job. Furthermore, these investigators found that if an employee feels good about herself and has success at work, she is even more satisfied with her job.

In contrast, if an employee feels bad about herself and has failures at work, she thinks even less of her job. This is important for employers to be aware of as failures at work could have much more negative impact on those employees with lower self-esteem or confidence. In addition, how the manager responds to the failure may further exacerbate the issue (“How could you do such a thing?!”), or start to turn things around (“Learning is an important part of development, so let’s see what we learned and what we need to do to get this right next time”). The right type of intervention may be a means of improving job satisfaction, and ultimately job performance.

Data were collected from two samples: 137 matched pairs of employees and their immediate supervisors as well as 227 participants recruited via StudyResponse, a nonprofit service that matches researchers to participants.