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“Happy employees are productive employ-
ees.” “Happy employees are not productive
employees.” We hear these conflicting state-
ments made by HR professionals and man-
agers in organizations. There is confusion
and debate among practitioners on the topic
of employee attitudes and job satisfaction—
even at a time when employees are increas-
ingly important for organizational success
and competitiveness. Therefore, the purpose
of this article is to provide greater under-
standing of the research on this topic and
give recommendations related to the major
practitioner knowledge gaps.
As indicated indirectly in a study of HR
professionals (Rynes, Colbert, & Brown,
2002), as well as based on our experience,
the major practitioner knowledge gaps in
this area are: (1) the causes of employee at-
titudes, (2) the results of positive or negative
job satisfaction, and (3) how to measure and
influence employee attitudes. Within each
gap area, we provide a review of the scien-
tific research and recommendations for
practitioners related to the research find-
ings. In the final section, additional recom-
mendations for enhancing organizational
practice in the area of employee attitudes
and job satisfaction are described, along
with suggestions for evaluating the imple-
mented practices.
Before beginning, we should describe
what we mean by employee attitudes and job
satisfaction. Employees have attitudes or
viewpoints about many aspects of their jobs,
their careers, and their organizations. How-
Human Resource Management, Winter 2004, Vol. 43, No. 4, Pp. 395–407
© 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Published online in Wiley InterScience (
DOI: 10.1002/hrm.20032
Lise M. Saari and Timothy A. Judge
This article identifies three major gaps between HR practice and the scientific research in the
area of employee attitudes in general and the most focal employee attitude in particular—job
satisfaction: (1) the causes of employee attitudes, (2) the results of positive or negative job satis-
faction, and (3) how to measure and influence employee attitudes. Suggestions for practition-
ers are provided on how to close the gaps in knowledge and for evaluating implemented prac-
tices. Future research will likely focus on greater understanding of personal characteristics, such
as emotion, in defining job satisfaction and how employee attitudes influence organizational
performance. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Correspondence to: Lise M. Saari, IBM Corporation, Global Workforce Research, North Castle Drive MD
149, Armonk, NY 10504-1785, tel: 914-765-4224, [email protected]
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