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Can We Rely on Job Satisfaction to Reduce Job Stress?

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International Journal of Management Science and Business Administration
Volume 3, Issue 3, March 2017, Pages 17-26

Can We Rely on Job Satisfaction to Reduce Job Stress?

DOI: 10.18775/ijmsba.1849-5664-5419.2014.33.1002
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.18775/ijmsba.1849-5664-5419.2014.33.1002

Elisabet Siahaan

Faculty of Economic and Business, University of Sumatera Utara

Abstract: Stress has been a hot topic to discuss since several years ago. Stress triggered a negative behaviour from employees. In a long term, stress would decrease the whole organizational performance. This study aimed to understand the factor which led to employees’ stress within state-owned organization in Indonesia. All this time, each organization tried to improve their employees’ job satisfaction as it would commonly lead to a positive attitude from the employees. Employees’ organizational commitment was a key which led to organizational success. Work-family conflict had been manifested as a problem in the work-life as the employees could not balance their role as employees and as a family member. These variables were hypothesized to affect employees’ job stress level.The research was conducted at PT Pelabuhan Indonesia I Medan, one of major state-owned firm in Indonesia. The research was focused on married employees and had been working for at least 3 years. There were 72 employees across division selected in the research. The sample was proportionally taken from each division. Data was collected using self-administered questionnaires. The data was analysed with correlation and multiple regression analyses.Correlation analysis showed that stress had a strong positive relationship with work-family conflict. Stress moderately correlated with the employees’ organizational commitment level and satisfaction level. Multiple regression analysis showed that job satisfaction might reduce employees’ job stress but it was insignificant. Job stress was positively and significantly affectedby employees’ satisfaction and commitment. Employees’ organizational commitment negatively and significantly affected the stress level. These relationships explained 64% of job stress variance.

Keywords: Stress, Organizational commitment, Work to family conflict, Job satisfaction

Can We Rely on Job Satisfaction to Reduce Job Stress?

1. Introduction

1.1 Research Background

One of the success key factors of each organization or firm is always held by human factor which operates the organization from within. It has already been commonly known that human factors are the hub and backbone of each organization which will play every role to deliver the organizational function (Osuagwu, C.A., 2004; Ogulana, E.K., and Okunlaya R.O.A., 2013). In every aspect of managing, planning, organizing, leading, and controlling need a human factor involvement. Thus, optimizing the human factor will always lead to the improvement of organizational effectiveness as whole. An organization has to select and recruit the right man on the right job.

Nowadays, we face a more and more complex competition which forces many organizations to draft higher goals to achieve. This act often leads to an additional workload for their employees. As their workload increases, the pressure of work will be perceived higher. In a more complex situation, stress becomes more vulnerable. Stress is a fundamental element of workers’ everyday life. Stress presence will disturb the workers’ routines and may lead to a decline on his or her performance. In a long term, if the stress cannot be managed well, it will lead to a decline on the organizational performance as well (Wong, K.S., Cheuk, W.H., and Rosen, S, 2000; Dobreva-Martinova, T., Villeneuve, M., Strickland, L., and Kimberly, M., 2002). Therefore, a study on stress management will help many organizations to manage their employees well.

A preliminary survey was conducted on PT Pelabuhan Indonesia (Pelindo) I Medan. We found an indication that employees at PT Pelindo experienced a high job-stress level. The workers interviewed on the study stated that they had snowballing workload during the last-year. In comparison, the additional task given to each employee had been increased for 150% than the task given last year. This high workload invites stress to the employees. In fact, we found that the employees experience an unstable emotional situation as they cannot stay calm on the given situation. Their performance is disturbed due to the problematic emotion. Therefore, this stress level has to be managed and buffered so it will not harm employees’ performance. A study on job-stress level will help us to understand and manage how to reduce the impact or buffer the stress on employees. This may be beneficial to every organization globally.

As we talk about stress, we will find a lot of sources of employees’ job stress level. The stress may be sourced as simple as the employees themselves, their co-workers, their team, even their working environment. Job stress level is directly related to time-push of the job given, workload, and working environment (Cooper, C. L. Sloan, S.J. and Williams, S., 1988). In addition, stress can be sourced from role conflict and bad relationship between employees (French, J.R.P. and Caplan, R.D., 1973; Lindorff, M., 2001).

Employees’ job stress level has a negative correlation to employees’ job satisfaction level, both for male and female workers (Singh, T., Singh, A., and Singh P., 2007). Furthermore, stress has a positive correlation with their role conflict, especially work-family conflict. A presence of organizational commitment also becomes an important factor to be accounted in evaluating employees’ job stress level. As whole, organizational commitment has a negative correlation with their stress level (Khatibi, A., Asadi, H., and Hamidi M., 2009). This study is focused to discuss these three variables which strongly correlate with job stress level.

Job satisfaction relates to employees’ evaluation toward their working environment and condition while working at the organization. Employee will be satisfied if they gain more than what they expect. A satisfied employee tends to show positive attitudes such as better performance, better life expectation, high motivation, more resistance, and more discipline. This kind of employee is less likely to leave the organization, even becomes more commit to the organization (Christen, M., Iyer, G., Soberman, D., 2006; Ge, C., Fu, J., Chang, Y., Wang, L., 2011; Alexopoulos, E.C., Palatsidi, V., Tigani, X., Darviri, C., 2014; Alsaraireh, F., Quinn-Griffin, M.T., Ziehm, S.R., Fitzpatrick, J.J., 2014).

As we observed the employees of PT Pelindo I Medan, several of their employees are indicating a dissatisfaction at workplace. They are not preferred with the promotion system given by the organization, also the supervisor is less likely to evaluate and appreciate their performance directly. Even while supervising, there is no direct communication between them.

Organizational commitment is defined as a degree in which the employees share believe, point of view, and accept organizational goals as their own goals while being loyal to stay in organization for the near future (Mathis, R.L., Jackson, J.H., and Valentine S., 2014). Our observation at PT Pelindo showed that employees’ commitment toward organization is vaguely shown. Employees of PT Pelindo I Medan commonly attend their work late. On average, only 60% of the employees attend their work punctually. This problem indicates that the employees may have a low level of organizational commitment. In addition, we found that several employees unhappily do their job as they will not give their best to the organization.

In addition to our previous observation, Pelindo’s employees also indicate that they perceived a degree of dual role conflict, especially in form of work-family conflict. Employees spend their time more in the office rather than in their home, with their family. As we observed, the employees usually leave office at 8 to 9 pm which leave the time for rest and get ready to work again at 8 am. This time to work clearly shows an imbalanced time management between family and work. Not to mention that tireness from working activities may affect their behavior.

The information collected from our preliminary survey indicate that PT Pelindo I Medan’s employees were vulnerable to stress. This study focused on how to manage the given situation in order to reduce the stress level to keep the employees’ performance on their best performance.

2. Literature Review

2.1 Job Saticfaction

Job satisfaction is related to the employees’ positive feelings toward their job which have been done and have been evaluated based on employees’ point of view (Robbins, S.P., and Judge, T.A., 2013). A highly-satisfied employee at work will hold positive feelings toward his or her job. In contrast, a lowly satisfied employee tends to hold negative feelings. A key to define job satisfaction level is a comparison between employees’ expectation toward their job and the result of the job.

A definition of job satisfaction can be summarized in three aspect, (1) job satisfaction is a function of value, defined as what employees want as result of their job; (2) tolerated to different value of each employees which affects their standard of what they perceive as ‘satisfied’ from their job; and (3) A perception may not fully reflect the reality and bias from each individual.

There are several forms to evaluate job satisfaction suggested by Robbins and Judge. These forms are manifested as a source of employees’ satisfaction toward their current job. Job satisfaction can be evaluated from the job itself, money reward, chance of promotion, supervision at work, and relationship with co-workers.

2.2 Work-Family Role Conflict

Role conflict is a given situation in which individual has to play a different role simultaneously (Robbins, S.P., and Judge, T.A., 2013). The roles as employees and family member have been commonly played simultaneously as both roles are important for almost every human, especially those who have been working and married. Work-family conflict will be manifested when one or both roles generate additional pressure which breaks balance of the two roles simultaneously (Greenhaus, J.H. and Beutell, N.J., 1985; Amelia, A., 2010). An imbalance of time, effort, and attention to any role will lead to this kind of conflict as they will produce negative feelings such as guilty, pressured, and uncomfortable situation toward the employee.

Greenhause and Beutell (Greenhaus, J.H. and Beutell, N.J., 1985) explained three forms of work-family conflict, (1) time-related conflict which occurs due to an imbalanced time management to play both roles; (2) strain-related conflict which occurs due to a generated pressure from both roles; and (3) behavior-based conflict which occurs due to a requirement of specific behavior at both roles which may harm a situation on the other roles. These behavior requirements ignite a conflict while playing both roles simultaneously.

2.3 Organizational Commitment

Since the nineteen seventies the word of organizational commitment has become an interesting and popular term to investigate. Many researches suggest that understanding organizational commitment is a key to achieve an effective human resource management. Organizational commitment plays a big role on organization as whole through the study of each individualistic behavior within the firm. In common, organizational commitment refers to a degree in which an employee identifies the organization, the goals, and his hope to remain as the member of the given firm (Robbins, S.P., and Judge, T.A., 2013). In addition, organizational commitment refers to a measurement of the employees’ willingness to remain at the organization in the near future (Mathis, R.L., Jackson, J.H., and Valentine S., 2014).

Mayer and Allen suggested three components of organizational commitment in which until today still widely used as core measurement of employees’ organizational commitment (Meyer, J. P., and Allen, N. J., 1991). Organizational commitment is categorized under three forms, firstly affective commitment which is related to emotional bond between employees and the organization; secondly continuance commitment which is related to the bond between employees and organization based on a continuance in their work-life and their worries on their job security; lastly, normative commitment which is related to returning the favor in which organization has given to the employees. There are several measurements on measuring employees’ organizational commitment beside the three components model, such as three-dimensional model and four-dimensional model. On this research, we use the three components model as the other models do not measure the normative component in which is closely related to eastern culture. The summary of each measurement model can be seen on Table 1.

2.4 Job Stress Level

Job stress, which is also known as occupational stress, in general refers to a level of stress that is sourced from job-related activities. A job stress level is considered as psychological factor which will emerge due to the given job-related activities for each employee. In this psychological context, one researcher may define job stress differently with other researchers. There are a lot of inconsistent definitions toward job stress level. We may find job stress as a stimulus while others define job stress as result of pressure at work.

Mangkunegara stated a definition that job stress is related to a pressure feeling in which experienced by the employees during their work (Mangkunegara, A.P., 2007). In this context, stress is defined as a stimulus rather than a result. On the other hand, Robbins and Judge (Robbins, S.P., and Judge, T.A., 2013) stated that job stress is considered as a result of the perceived feelings. A stressed-out employee can be identified through his physiological symptom, physical symptom, and behavior-related symptom at workplace.

A non-well-managed stress usually leads to a disability to interact normally and positively with their environment, either in working environment or outside them (Siagian, S., 2008). Stress is considered as unwanted psychological situation as the result of environmental pressure. Stress has to be managed in order to stay positive at work. Anatan and Ellitan (Anatan and Ellitan., 2007) added that the source of stress can be formed within each individual. For example hisor her role conflict within himself or herself. Robbins and Judge (Robbins, S.P., and Judge, T.A., 2013) also stated that stress can be sourced from within the individuals themselves.

3. Theoretical Framework and Hypothesis

3.1 Theoretical Framework

Job satisfaction is believed as an important factor for each employee as we believe that job satisfaction will buffer employees’ job stress (Singh, T., Singh, A., and Singh P., 2007). If the employees like their job, they will carry out the job happily which will render the workload lighter and perceived better (Alexopoulos, E.C., Palatsidi, V., Tigani, X., Darviri, C., 2014). Therefore, job satisfaction will buffer job stress level. A satisfied employee may have better resistance toward job stress (Bogg, J., and Cooper, C., 1995).

Martuningrum (Martuningrum, A., 2005) showed that role conflict has a strong positive relation to job stress. The higher role conflict perceived, the higher their stress level will be. Robbins and Judge (Robbins, S.P., and Judge, T.A., 2013) also stated that when an individual hardly carries out his or her role, as family or as employee simultaneously, these roleswill be mixed in one another and trigger conflict within the individual. In short, if we cannot manage the role and trigger a conflict, the situation will generate stress on that individual.

Organizational commitment may buffer the manifestation of job stress as it is negatively correlated with job stress (Khatibi, A., Asadi, H., and Hamidi M., 2009). If the individual can place the organization before him or herself, workload will be less perceived as a negative feeling, but a responsibility which can be carried with a positive feeling. This positive feeling can buffer the stress directly.
In accordance with the previous explanation, our theoretical framework is proposed as given in Figure 1 as follow.

3.2 Research Hypothesis

The research will evaluate the relationship of job satisfaction, role conflict, and organizational commitment on employees’ job stress level. In accordance with the previous review and research objective, the research hypothesis proposed as follow.

1. Job satisfaction has a negative and significant effect on employees’ job stress level.
2. Work-family role conflict has a positive and significant effect on employees’ job stress level.
3. Organizational commitment has a negative and significant effect on employees’ job stress level.

4. Research Methods

4.1 Location and Time of the Research

The research was conducted at PT Pelabuhan Indonesia I Medan, one of state-owned firm which is located in Medan. The research was conducted in Mei until June 2016 which involving the employees of PT Pelindo.

4.2 Research Sample

This research was focused to evaluate the effect of work-family conflict which might be perceived by many married workers while connecting the conflict with their organizational commitment levels. Therefore, this research was focused on the given employees characteristics. Firstly, the employees should have been working with PT Pelindo I Medan for at least three years. Secondly, they should have been married. Both of the characteristics were mandatory in order to avoid bias and correctly measured their perception toward job satisfaction, work-family conflict, job stress, and organizational commitment. Thus, a number of 247 employees were met the criterions. The number of minimum sample used for this research was calculated through solving formula with a level of 10% precision. The number of minimum sample for this research was 72 employees across division. As result we used 72 samples which were randomly and proportionally taken as our sample.

4.3 Data Collection Method

Data required to evaluate our model were collected using self-administered questionnaire to reduce bias and misinterpretation of the questionnaire. The questionnaire was constructed based on given theories related to each variable. A 5-scale Likert was used to measure respondent’s perception toward given statement on the questionnaire. In addition, interview and authorized-documentation review were conducted to support our research.

4.4 Data Analysis Method

The collected data were analyzed statistically by using multiple regression analysis (MRA). We used AMOS to help our analysis.

5. Results and Discussion

5.1 Sample Characteristics

Sample characteristics might help us to understand more about our sample situation and to analyze it accordingly. Sample characteristics were evaluated on gender, age range, and their educational attainment. The sample is mostly male on age range 40-50 years old. The sample also mostly finished their bachelor program. One of eastern culture taught a job segregation between male and female, where female segregated to domestic role while male played role to generate income to the household. On this perception, we could say that role conflict would be stronger on female than male member as they played more different role than what they should, based on the given culture. However, work might force male workers to sacrify their time with their family which triggered conflict. The study was conducted on a seaside, harbor organization which commonly accepted male worker than female one.

5.2 Descriptive Statistics

On average, our research sample showed that they had high job stress level (Mean = 4.36; Max = 5; Min = 4). The role conflict also highly perceived (Mean = 4.35; Max = 5; Min = 3.7). Uniquely, on the given situation, the employees were very satisfied with their work, even though the range perception was quite higher (Mean = 4.17; Max = 5; Min = 3.3). Lastly, their organizational commitment was also quite high (Mean = 4.39; Max = 5; Min = 3.2).

5.3 Multiple Regression Analysis

A Multiple regression analysis was used on the study to evaluate and estimate the effect on independent variable to dependent variable. The estimation result summarized on Table 2 as follow.

The model on equation 1 can explain 64% variance of employees’ job stress level at PT Pelindo I Medan. Employees’ job stress level are significantly affected by role conflict and organizational commitment (p-value <0.05). However, job satisfaction has an insignificant effect on job stress (p-value = 0.112). Role conflict dominantly affects job stress with a positive regression coefficient (β = 0.399). We accept the research hypothesis related to work-family role conflict as antecedents of job stress level. Organizational commitment has a negative effect on job stress (β = -0.135) which may buffer the job stress level. We accept the research hypothesis of organizational commitment. Job satisfaction may buffer job stress ((β = -0.096). However, the effect is insignificant, thus we reject the research hypothesis.

5.4 Key Findings and Discussion

Job satisfaction may reduce employees’ job stress level. However, this relation is insignificant. The research showed that forcing job satisfaction to reduce job stress is not an optimal solution anymore. While it remains true that stress will be reduced, the reduction effect is too small in comparison with the effort to build job satisfaction itself. Thus, this finding led to the previous theory of job satisfaction which stated that job satisfaction significantly reduced employees’ job stress level (Singh, T., Singh, A., and Singh P., 2007). Pelindo I Medan can be considered as experienced organization as the organization has been established since, 127 years ago. That is why the organization’s culture and main policy can be considered as solid and can effectively satisfy the employees in general. Even though there are several employees which are less satisfied than the others. Therefore, even if they are highly satisfied or less satisfied it will only affect small amount of their stress level. One side, they are burdened by a heavy workload, but on the other side their compensation keeps them satisfied.

Role conflict which is generally experienced on each employee will increase job stress level. The more they experience conflict the higher level of stress will be generated. This finding confirmed a theory which suggested that one of sources of stress in the individual itself (Singh, T., Singh, A., and Singh P., 2007; Anatan and Ellitan., 2007; Martuningrum, A., 2005). In addition, role conflict contributes the most influencing factor to build job stress level. The main problem of role conflict is a high workload which forces them to sacrify their time with family as ‘overtime work’ in order to fulfill their duty and role as employees. This will ignite a conflict inside the individual as they cannot divide their time with the family. In addition, problem at work may affect their daily life as family member. As the conflict is perceived more and more, their focus at work will be disturbed which leads to task-related strain. Role conflict plays a dominant factor which affected job stress level. Therefore, it is important to manage the role conflict to reduce stress. Each organization has to be able to help employees to balance their work-life and family-life. In addition, organization has to evaluate the employees’ workload and regulate them not to work overtime too often. There is a negative culture and behavior which state that employees tend to pile-up their work until a specific time and they worked night and day as the piled-up workload becomes endless. This has to be avoided.

Organizational commitment significantly helps to reduce employees’ job stress level. Highly committed employees will be able to manage their stress level better and be more resistant to stress. They will be loyal and give their best effort for their organization as they are proud to become a part within the organization. This finding supported the previous study which stated that there was a negative relationship between organizational commitment and employees’ job stress level (Khatibi, A., Asadi, H., and Hamidi M., 2009). This research was not specifically addressed which category of commitment reducing the manifesting of job stress level, but as a whole found that organizational commitment will reduce job stress level. As the employees’ perspective shifts toward the good being of organization as whole, they will be less likely to be stressed-out even under a high workload. This mindset must be engraved on each individual within the firm.

In accordance with our descriptive result which indicated that on average, the sample held a high level of stress in addition with high level of role conflict within themselves. Even though a high organizational commitment may reduce the stress level, however, the situation cannot reduce employees’ job stress level. Thus, PT Pelindo I Medan should manage the work-family conflict well in order to reduce employees’ job stress level. PT Pelindo I Medan should evaluate more the reason which makes their employees perceived a high level of role conflict. The employees should be helped to balance their work-life and family-life. As we talk about the conflict, the most problematic situation is formed due to time-based conflict which makes the employees cannot balance their time at work and at home at the same time. They have to sacrify their time in one role to fulfill the other roles which make them disadvantaged.

6. Implication

On the previous research, we believed that managing employees’ job satisfaction level was an important key to buffer employees’ job stress level. The more employees satisfied with his or her job, the less likely they would be stressed out. Their resistance toward stress would be higher than employees who dissatisfied with his or her job. However, as we introduced the role conflict, we found that managing this conflict was a greater key to reduce employees’ stress level. The more they perceived role conflict the more likely they would be stressed out. A better buffer to job stress than job satisfaction was organizational commitment. Thus it was important to build a commitment in each employee. This research found out that job satisfaction was an insignificant factor to job stress and should be considered to keep it high for the sake of job stress level.

According to our findings, we might conclude that there was not enough evidence to state that job satisfaction affected employees’ job stress level. In contrast, organizational commitment would significantly affect their job stress level. However, the effect of organizational commitment was not as strong as their perceived work-family conflict. Uniquely, job satisfaction only held a small role to control employees’ job stress level.
In accordance with research findings, we suggested the organization nowadays to be more focused on controlling employees’ role conflict. It was better to keep employees happy with a balanced work-life and family-life than happy with the job itself. Each organization should also plant a seed of organizational commitment on their employees. This would help to buffer job stress. As we controlled the stress low, it would hopefully not affect the employees and their ultimately organizational performance. The main source of role conflict was time-related conflict, as they hardly managed their time to be with their family. The employees tent to do the work overtime and it meant that they sacrified their time with their family. This should be avoided. Therefore, overtime policy should be more maintenance. In addition, our pre-study stated that there was a snowballing workload from time to time which might be evaluated according to employees’ capabilities.

We found out that one source of work-family conflict was the employees’ behavior to halt their job until their given deadline. As a result, they were forced to do the work overtime while sacrifying their quality time with their family. Thus, it was highly recommended that we should build a certain culture not to halt job. It was much better if we finished the job as soon as we could and avoided overtime work unless we were in an emergency situation.

As we found that organizational commitment significantly buffered and reduced employees’ job stress level, we suggested each organization to nurture organizational commitment within each employees. Organizational commitment might lead to a better human factor such as performing better for the sake of organization.

7. Conclusion

The research was focused on how to manage stress level without evaluating its impact on productivity. Even though we believed that productivity would be harmed under stressful situation, there must be additional research to evaluate stress and performance as the organizational main goal is performance which is related to their productivity. Moreover, the research was focused on a common level of job stress, commitment, satisfaction, and role conflict. Even though we understood that there were several dimensions on each variable, we could not conclude each dimension effect as we were limited on MRA. Thus, the future research must evaluate it on a more specific level so that we can make a better decision to reduce stress.


I would like to express my gratitude to PT Pelindo I Medan which allowed me to study on the organization, especially the employees, our sample, which had helped me during the research period without any trouble.


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