This study examined the effects of job characteristics on the job satisfaction and organizational commitment of correctional staff members.
In many professions, including corrections, there is a tendency for supervisors to try to find the right person for the job rather than making the job right for the person. It has been theorized that the work environment influences employees primarily through their attitudinal states, which in turn shapes their intentions and their behaviors. For correctional employees, job satisfaction and organizational commitment are two of the most important attitudinal states. This study examined the job characteristics, specifically job stress, supervision, job variety, and job autonomy, on the job satisfaction and organizational commitment of correctional staff members. It was predicted that these four characteristics would have significant effects on job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Completed surveys were received from 272 staff members at a Midwestern medium- to maximum-security-level State correctional facility in 2000. Respondents represented all areas of the correctional facility, from correctional officers to food service workers, as well as different administrative levels, from line staff members to supervisor and managers. The data were analyzed using ordinary least squares regression. The dependent variables were job satisfaction and organizational commitment; the independent variables were job stress, supervision, job variety, and job autonomy; and seven personal and work-related characteristics were chosen as control variables. The analysis of the data found that all four job characteristics had significant effects on the staff members’ job satisfaction, while only job stress and supervision had statistically significant effects on organizational commitment. Moreover, job satisfaction had the greatest effect on correctional staff members’ organizational commitment. In addition, the research showed that the effects of the job characteristics differed among the various groups of correctional staff members. Four important conclusions can be inferred from these results: 1) the effects of job characteristics vary in how they affect correctional staff members’ job satisfaction and organizational commitment; 2) there is variation in the effects of job characteristics across the three subgroups of correctional staff members analyzed; 3) job satisfaction has a highly salient relationship with organizational commitment among correctional staff members; and 4) job characteristics are more important than personal characteristics in shaping the affective attitudinal states of correctional staff members. 4 tables, 4 notes, and 46 references