Values are quite often, a very subjective thing. Values, defined as the ideals, customs, or institutions of a society toward which the people of the group have an affective, or emotional regard. Consequentially, it’s very easy to see how values can vary from society to society, and person to person. These values can have a very strong impact on an individuals satisfaction with their job. If the values of an individual conflict with the practices of their employer’s organization, it can cause incredibly low levels of job satisfaction in the employee. Values are very important to most people, and when compromised, they become very unhappy and potentially even depressed with their circumstances, but when the organization follows practices that are in agreement or unison with the individuals own values, it can improve the employee’s sense of job satisfaction and happiness with their job because they are working for an organization that shares similar beliefs.
Values differ from one person to the next person. Although something may be important to one person working for a particular organization, their coworker who works in the cubicle next to them, may not share the same opinions, beliefs or values as this. Generally, if kept in perspective, difference of values between employees do not cause problems in the workplace. However, when the practices of the organization as a whole conflict with an employee of the organization’s value, it can be the start of problems, and low levels of job satisfaction in the employee.
A great example of this, is an adoption agency. Let’s say that this adoption agency is a very reputable one, with many successful matches, friendly employees, workers and agents. This agency tries their very best to do everything correct, and takes care to hire individuals whom they believe are caring, compassionate and feel very strongly and passionately about the positive aspects of adoption. One of the workers at this adoption agency has an appointment with a couple, and although she is normally a great employee who has facilitated many successful matches, she begins to feel very uncomfortable when she realizes that the couple her appointment is with is a homosexual couple looking to adopt a child. This particular workers discomfort may be due to the fact she does not agree with gay marriage, or that gay couples should be permitted to adopt children. The worker may go ahead and follow the standard procedures and processes in regard to the adoption process, or she may refuse to work with the couple. Either way, the affect that this clashing of values can very strongly affect the worker’s job satisfaction and may culminate into further problems, and possibly escalate to withdrawal behaviors if not addressed.
In a similar manner, an individual who works for the same adoption agency, but believes strongly that gay couples should be treated just as heterosexual couples, and is a strong gay rights activist, may feel very happy with the fact that the adoption agency has chosen to cater to gay couples just as they would anyone else. This individual may feel that the organization is doing the “right” thing, in her opinion, and feel a sense of pride that she belongs to an organization that promotes fairness and tolerance. These positive emotions help build a higher sense of job satisfaction, as well as creating an overall positive impression of the organization’s ethics on that particular employee. This employee is likely to talk very positively about the agency, letting others know how open-minded and non-discriminating that the agency she works for it. This employee, if assigned to work with a gay couple, is also much more likely to show an enthusiasm for what she is doing, and be more genuinely excited and friendly towards the clients because she is enthusiastic about what the organization is taking a stand for by allowing gay couples to use their agency. This is an example of how an individuals personal values, when complimented by the actions of the organization they are employed by, can drastically improve not only their opinion of their employing organization, but increase their level of satisfaction that they feel with their job.
When the values of an individual employee conflict with the actions of an employer it cause a great deal of stress and tension in the workplace, whether it is noticed or unnoticed. An employee may feel very out of place, awkward or misfit in the work environment, especially so if many of his or her coworkers have voiced their agreement with whatever practice the organization is enacting that the particular employee disagrees with. This can lead to the employee feeling uncomfortable around their coworkers, creating a more tense situation for themselves. They may begin dreading coming to work, and engage in both psychological and physical withdrawal behaviors. These withdrawal behaviors can, and usually, lead to either termination or voluntary resignation of the employee. All of this, can be fueled by the low job satisfaction, and unhappiness with their job that this clashing of values brings about.
A real life example of how values (as well as morals) can affect an individual to the point they have such low levels of job satisfaction that they begin to even despise or hate the organization that they are employed by, eventually leading to their turnover, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. The case of Jill Stanek, is a great example. Jill Stanek worked as a nurse at Christ Hospital in Illinois. While working at Christ Hospital, Jill Stanek discovered that babies were being aborted alive, and left on the shelves and in the hampers of the soiled utility room to die. These babies were aborted using a method called “induced labor abortions,” an abortion done by inducing labor in a woman who was in her second trimester of pregnancy, generally past the twenty-week mark, and the baby is then delivered and dies of prematurely. These babies were issues both birth and death certificates, as required by the Illinois state laws. These babies were sometimes born alive, and other times, they died before they were even born. Stanek says that she saw these babies who were born alive and left in the soiled utility room, live as short as a few minutes, and as long as an eight hour shift.
Stanek went to hospital officials, telling them of what was going on and the hospital officials told Stanek that the induced labor abortions would continue. When Stanek was told this, she decided to go public about everything, exposing the truth and testifying before the U.S. House Committee, as a supporter of passing BAIPA (the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.) When Christ Hospital found out about her outspokenness regarding the subject of the controversial live abortions they were performing on babies that could very well survive if given medical attention, Stanek was fired. Stanek was quite obviously unhappy with her work environment, and the morals of her employer’s organization were quite obviously in severe discord with her own, and all of these factors led to her involuntary resignation. The organization, Christ Hospital, obviously did not agree with her values, or her right to speak out against the organization, and Stanek obviously did not agree with the practices of her hiring organization or she wouldn’t have spoken out against them and testified before the U.S. House in regards to the barbaric practices occurring at Christ Hospital against defenseless, premature babies. Stanek was quite obviously unhappy with the practices that her employing organization was participating in, which had to have affected her job satisfaction, and happiness with her employer, eventually culminating to her termination.
These examples make it quite clear how values that are in unison and agreement with an individual employee’s values can strengthen the bonds that the individual has with their employing organization. This agreement can raise the individuals opinion of the organization, and increase the employee’s level of job satisfaction when they know that the organization they are part of supports something they believe in. Just as having similar beliefs can strengthen bonds, and improve job satisfaction, when an organization’s actions conflict with an individuals personal values, it can have very negative effects on the employee’s opinion of the organization, and drastically lower the employee’s level of job satisfaction. This decrease in job satisfaction, and loss of respect for the employing organization can lead to withdrawal behaviors, and eventually culminate and escalate to the point of resignation, whether voluntary or involuntary. Some differences in values may be considered more important or less important than others. The level at which an individual ranks a value can affect how much of an impact a conflict of values between the individual and the organization’s practices can have on the individual’s job satisfaction and happiness with their employer. When the particular value is ranked lower, the impact tends to be less, however, if the particular value is ranked very highly to the individual the affect a conflict in values can have on the individuals job satisfaction and happiness with their employers can be severely and drastically affected.
Colquitt, Jason A.. Organizational behavior: improving performance and commitment in the workplace. Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009. Print.