Globalization is transforming the international economy, and it has a profound impact on organizations in both developed and developing countries. There are both good and bad consequences to this, and businesses must be prepared to deal with any changes. To adapt to the present market, organizations should regard human resource management as a primary concern. A well-managed human resource base should enable the organization’s activities to operate efficiently and effectively. However, most companies today face a significant challenge to have competent and committed workers (O’Malley, 2000). The priority placed on human capital quality is the crucial factor contributing significantly to a successful organization (Shea, 2001). A talented workforce is essential in the development and maintenance of companies to ensure their long-term viability. The research indicates that the greater the sense of purpose and enthusiasm employees have, the higher an organization’s ability to achieve optimum profitability (Saari & Judge, 2004).
Although a high correlation between satisfaction and commitment has been shown, most research has been undertaken in profitable industrial and service organizations (Testa, 2001). Benkhoff (1997) claims that attitude towards the job and how an employee perceives job satisfaction significantly affects a person’s intention to continue or quit and their overall contribution. The conclusion that human resources are one of the most critical components in a company’s overall performance is self-evident (Boudreau & Ramstad, 2007; Liu et al., 2007). A further empirical confirmation has been provided of the relationship between job satisfaction and employee commitment from a meta-analytical study (Harter et al., 2002). Hence, managers must have an understanding of their employees’ level of job satisfaction and commitment.
Higher education is critical for socio-economic growth and the overall development of each country. Vietnam’s higher education has been classified as a critically important component of the country’s society. In the Ministry of Education and Training (2020)’s statistics, there has been steady progress in Vietnam’s higher education institutions regarding size, type, and form, which meet socio-economic development needs. Though, the most pressing problem with the university sector in Vietnam is its lack of immediate improvements and stagnation in governance, plus sluggish strategies to boost the standard of teaching and ineffective methods to improve the quality of faculty. To improve performance, HEIs have been directed by the Ministry of Education and Training in recent years to aggressively reform content programs and teaching methods in the direction of approaching competence, improving the application, and implementation. However, these policies focus more on students than the employees, who are the backbone of HEIs’ long-term viability (Simmons, 2002).
The last decades have seen an increasing interest in job satisfaction within the HEIs (Rhodes et al., 2007; Smerek & Peterson, 2007). This is a knowledge-intensive sector, and to gain a competitive edge, highly educated employees must be satisfied and committed (Aboramadan et al., 2020). In other words, there might be a decline in the level of academic productivity and commitment if the overall job dissatisfaction increases (Ahsan et al., 2009). Thus, an understanding of what motivates employees’ actions and attitudes should be obtained before determining the extent of employee satisfaction. Besides, studies on the impact of certain factors on job satisfaction and employees’ commitment to HEIs from emerging or underdeveloped countries are limited. Therefore, this study tries to examine and empirically validate the influence of various factors on overall job satisfaction in Vietnam’s universities, such as supervision, working conditions, payment, reward and recognition, the job itself. Moreover, the paper hypothesizes that job satisfaction has a positive relationship with organizational commitment in HEIs.
2. Literature Review and Conceptual Framework
2.1. Job Satisfaction
Job satisfaction is a broad concept that many researchers have defined and measured in numerous facets over decades. The level of job satisfaction contributes to the overall performance of an organization. According to Hoppock (1935), job satisfaction is a mixture of psychological, physiological, and environmental factors that makes a person acknowledge: “I am contented with my job”. As a result of this definition, it now encompasses a broader range of internal and external variables that influence job satisfaction, such as relationships with supervisors, working conditions, and achievements. In addition, Robbins and Judge (2007, p. 30) defined job satisfaction as “a positive feeling about one’s job resulting from an evaluation of its characteristics”. Likewise, Weiss (2002) asserts that job satisfaction is an individual’s favorable evaluation of his or her job. Spector (1997) asserted that job satisfaction is described empirically as either an overarching feeling toward one’s job or a collection of related attitudes toward various job features. In addition, George and Jones (2008, p. 84) stated that job satisfaction is “the collection of feelings and beliefs that people have about their current jobs”. Employee feelings of job satisfaction, according to Hirschfeld (2000), may be classified into two categories: extrinsic and intrinsic. Intrinsic work satisfaction refers to an employee’s perception of the job’s characteristics. On the other hand, extrinsic job satisfaction is concerned with the feelings associated with elements of a work environment that are not directly linked to the work duties or the job itself, such as a coworker’s personality. When workers are satisfied with their work, they continue to participate and devote their efforts to the company with high retention rates. In the same way, the problems surrounding employee retention can be overcome by competitive incentives and improved employee satisfaction (Sigler, 1999; Mahdi et al., 2021).
Turkyilmaz et al. (2011) concluded that employee satisfaction was affected by five factors: empowerment and participation, working conditions, reward and recognition, teamwork, and training, in an experimental study on public sector employee satisfaction and loyalty. Moreover, Auer Antoncic and Antoncic (2011) claimed that the variables for employee satisfaction include: general satisfaction (including working conditions, reputation, relationships, wages, benefits) and organizational culture (including reward, promotion, stable employment). Under the circumstances in Vietnam, Tran (2005) found six components to assessing job satisfaction: the job itself, salaries, opportunities for training and promotion, supervision, relationship with colleagues, and fringe benefits by using the JDI employment index.
In different contexts, several studies have tried to determine which factors influence job satisfaction. This research aims to determine the factors that influence job satisfaction and organizational commitment within HEIs. Therefore, five factors affecting job satisfaction have been established: supervision, working conditions, payment, reward and recognition, and the job itself.
Babin and Boles (1996) suggested that supervisor participation would help workers feel more satisfied with their jobs. Employees who receive more assistance from their employers show higher satisfaction levels across a range of occupations (Yukl, 1989). Supervisor support is characterized as generating improved individual and organizational efficiency, collecting and distributing the required resources to help employees achieve personal goals. The managers ensure that their workers have adequate resources, instruction, or supplies to meet the responsibility. Schermerhorn (1993) also stated that supervision, allowance, promotion, and external awards are likely to contribute to job satisfaction. The practical implications of the study by Alonderiene and Majauskaite (2016) showed that supervisors can boost faculty members’ job satisfaction by displaying leadership behaviors. However, Toker (2011) discovered that academics rate satisfaction with pay, supervision, wage, and fringe benefits as the least important among twenty factors. Griffin et al. (2001) argued that the staff would be more satisfied if their supervisors took the time to advise and assist them and were concerned about their needs.
H1: Supervision positively influences job satisfaction.
In Maslow’s Pyramid, which explains the human motivation, payment is mentioned as being a worker’s most essential demand. Payment is seen as a metric for determining an employee’s value to a company (Kamal & Hanif, 2009; Shields & Price, 2002). Besides that, Arnold and Feldman (1996) supported this point of view by arguing that compensation should be a key indicator in achieving fulfillment. To be more specific, people have a wide range of needs, and money is one way to address such needs. The wage or bonus is also an essential consideration for completing the work, according to Dyer and Theriault (1976). Payment satisfaction is one of the most critical factors in assessing work satisfaction (Tett & Meyer, 2006). On the other hand, Johnson (2018) believed that low income increases dissatisfaction but not vice versa.
H2: Payment positively influences job satisfaction.
2.1.3. Working Conditions
The globalizing world has escalated the competition and the expectation of success. Moreover, there is an increased intensity and stress in the working environment. People generally associate job satisfaction with attitudes or feelings towards their work environment. Togia et al. (2004) found that working conditions positively influence Greek academic librarians. Similarly, Kuwaiti et al. (2019) reported that job satisfaction is significantly affected by working conditions in the context of a health sciences program. Additionally, a safe working environment will lower job stress. On the other hand, low job satisfaction can be attributed primarily to physical working conditions. Sajjadi et al. (2011) stated that horrible working conditions, insufficient welfare services, workplace insecurity, administrative problems lead to job tension, job dissatisfaction, and poor results in the faculty of medical sciences.
H3: Working conditions positively influence job satisfaction.
2.1.4. Reward and Recognition
Employee recognition and incentive programs come in a variety of forms. Recognition is the term used by the public to refer to the acknowledgment of an individual’s contribution to an organization (Bowen, 2000). For the accomplishment of a specific job, a reward may be awarded formally or informally. There is significant research evidence to suggest that an employee’s satisfaction is linked to recognition and reward (Kuwaiti et al., 2019; Turkyilmaz et al., 2011). The reward and recognition of employee satisfaction should be associated with an organization’s performance. Moreover, monetary and non-financial rewards and recognition profoundly affect employees’ satisfaction and productivity. Providing timely recognition and rewards for employees’ achievements increases employee engagement in the private sector. Oosthuizen (2001) stated that incentive programs contribute to workers’ motivation and power. Besides, a faulty system results in a lack of incentives and appreciation, resulting in managers deferring compensation to improve working conditions for their employees. In short, an inadequate pay and recognition program detracts from employee happiness.
H4: Reward and recognition positively influence job satisfaction.
2.1.5. Job Itself
While external factors, such as the working conditions, have a significant influence on job satisfaction and commitment, the job itself also has a pronounced impact on employees. Spector (1985) stressed that workers’ meaning is that workers like or hate their jobs. Thus, the job itself is one of the two-factor theory’s motivators. In a study that takes into account both personal and task factors, Smerek and Peterson (2007) proposed that the work itself is the most important predictor of job satisfaction. According to Roelen et al. (2008), there is a strong connection between job satisfaction and the element of work. Additionally, Ruthankoon and Ogunlana (2003) suggested that the job itself may predict job satisfaction or displeasure. Furthermore, Kuwaiti et al. (2019) proposed a correlation between the nature of work and faculty member satisfaction. On a similar page, Drummond and Stoddard (1991) claimed that the satisfaction of employees involves an assessment of diverse job characteristics, including the job itself. Finally, Togia et al. (2004) claimed that the employee is mainly determined by the job itself.
H5: Job itself positively influences job satisfaction.
2.2. Organizational Commitment
Meyer and Allen (1997) defined organizational commitment as a psychological condition in which workers feel an attachment to their organization. Meyer and Allen (1991, 1997), organizational commitment could be separated into three dimensions: how attached employees feel about the entity, what it costs them to leave, and how important moral responsibility is to them to remain. These dimensions are also known as affective, normative, and continuance. In addition, Mowday et al. (2013) characterized organizational commitment as a trust in the objectives and principles of the entity, a willingness to be a member of the entity, and an organization’s devotion. Employees dedicated to their organizations may easily accept and adhere to organizational priorities and objectives (Nur et al., 2021; Tanriverdi, 2008; Valentine et al., 2002).
According to Aydogdu and Asikgil (2011), job satisfaction impacts whether an employee stays or leaves an organization. If workers are pleased with their job and their organization, including their colleagues, salaries, and leadership, they will become more committed to contributing to their organization, compared to those not pleased. The importance of these two areas cannot be ignored as they are key factors affecting employee turnover, employee efficiency, and productivity. It is argued that employees with a high level of job satisfaction tend to show greater commitment, while low-satisfied employees show behaviors that are detrimental to the organization (Saari & Judge, 2004). To be more specific, job dissatisfaction also seems linked to other withdrawal behaviors, including absence, late unionization, complaints, abuse of drugs, and retirement decisions (Saari & Judge, 2004). Lack of satisfaction results in lethargy and decreased employee participation. Therefore, work satisfaction is regarded as the critical factor determining employee commitment (Aflah et al., 2021; Mannheim et al., 1997). Malik et al. (2010) discovered that job satisfaction had a substantial positive effect on the organizational engagement of university teachers.
H6: Job satisfaction positively influences organizational commitment.
The conceptual framework of this study is depicted in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Theoretical Framework
3. Materials and Methods
3.1. Research Methodology
The quantitative method is the most appropriate research approach in this study in-depth since the mathematical and numerical data will be represented and evaluated in terms of a broad number of variables. In addition, the quantitative method is often referred to as accurate measures because they provide statistical support in generalizing the results. Typically, results from this study would be interpreted using statistical analysis and mathematical calculations to explore interactions between variables (Cooper & Schindler, 2011). Consequently, this paper would use the quantitative method to highlight and describe the variables that contribute to employee satisfaction and commitment. Furthermore, this approach is suitable for assessing variables and making suggestions.
3.2. Sampling and Data Collection
The optimal and suitable sample size should be at least ten times and five times as the tested indicators, respectively (Hair et al., 2010, 2014). The data collection method was a questionnaire distributed to staff in Vietnam HEIs. To collect and maximize the data sample, the drop off and pick-up methods, as well as an online survey, were used. A total of 316 questionnaires were collected, screened, and validated for statistical analysis. In our study, the sample size of 316 is considered to satisfy the standard rule as there are 46 indicators.
To ensure that the study results apply to a broad range of HEIs, we attempted to survey respondents from both public and private HEIs including (HUTECH, UEF, IU, UEH, UFM). Half of the participants were under 35 years old, 35.1 percent were between 35–44 years, 15 percent were 45 years or older. It is worth mentioning that more than 48 percent of the participants are lecturers (including 13.9 percent hold administrative tasks as managers), nearly 45 percent were staff, and the remaining were leaders and managers – without teaching. More than 50 percent of the participants have a master’s degree, 29.1 percent have a bachelor’s degree and the remaining 20.5 percent have a doctorate or post-doctorate. Of the participants, nearly 45 percent had 1–5 years’ experience, while under 1 year, 5–10 years, and more than 10 years were 10.8, 24.7, and 19.6 percent, respectively. A description of the respondents’ characteristics is presented in Table 1.
Table 1: Socio-Demographic Profile of the Respondents
3.3. Measurement of Variables
The seven-point Likert scale was used to rate the questionnaire items, ranging from 1 indicating strongly disagree and seven indicating strongly agree. The survey instruments used to validate the research as mentioned earlier model were developed based on the earlier research. The questionnaire consists of two main parts. The first part is to measure mediator, dependent, and independent variables. The second part serves to collect some of the sociodemographic information. The mediator and dependent variables group involves job satisfaction and employee commitment. The “job satisfaction” is measured by an eight item scale developed by Brayfield and Rothe (1951), Smith et al. (1969), and Weiss, et al. (1964). The “employee’s commitment” is measured by a sixteen-item scale adapted from Allen and Meyer (1990). The independent variables group includes five dimensions. The “payment” is measured by a four-item scale borrowed from Spector (1985). The “job itself” is measured by a five-item scale adapted from Spector (1985) and Weiss et al. (1964). The “working conditions” is measured by a five-item scale adapted from Turkyilmaz et al. (2011) and Weiss et al. (1964). The “reward and recognition” is measured by a four-item scale adapted from Turkyilmaz et al. (2011). The “supervisor” is measured by a four-item scale adapted from Mishra and Ghosh (2020). Furthermore, since most respondents are Vietnamese citizens, the questionnaire is translated into Vietnamese and modified slightly to fit the domestic context, ensuring that respondents understand the meaning.
Kaplan (2000, p. 1) stated that structural equation modeling (SEM) is defined “as a class of methodologies that seeks to represent hypotheses about the means, variances, and covariances of observed data in terms of a smaller number of ‘structural’ parameters defined by a hypothesized underlying conceptual or theoretical model”. This is a multivariate approach that incorporates factor analysis and regression, enabling researchers to analyze the associations between latent structures simultaneously. The study employed the partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) technique to test hypotheses about observed and latent variables (Hair et al., 2011). PLS-SEM’s objective is to optimize the variance explained by endogenous latent variables (Hair et al., 2014). In addition, Hair et al. (2017) stated that this approach is more suitable for a small sample size and the complex research model in which numerous variables are present and interact simultaneously. It is a scientific and objective procedure to obtain a reasonable and accurate study result. The reliability analysis is a critical component of measurement since it determines if each item in a factor accurately calculates a variable. The accuracy of the measurement scale must be validated. The term “reliability analysis” refers to the study of measurement accuracy. A measurement is called accurate if it consistently achieves the same findings under the same conditions. Checking measurement models is part of the evaluation of PLS-SEM data. If the measurement models satisfy criteria, then structural model evaluations are needed.
4.1. Testing for Convergent and Discriminant Validity
Construct validity was evaluated for the scales used to measure the constructs discussed in this article. Construct validity is concerned with determining whether a measurement instrument accurately reflects the hypotheses being measured. We tested Cronbach’s alpha, average variance extracted (AVE), and composite reliability (CR) to verify the construct’s convergent validity. The appropriate threshold values for Cronbach’s alpha, AVE, and CR are 0.6, 0.5, and 0.7, respectively, as suggested by Hair et al. (2011). Convergent and discriminant validity analyses of the measurement model (construct validity) are needed in the PLS method, and items with loadings less than 0.6 are removed.
The results of the outer indicator loadings indicated that all items more significant than the threshold ranging from 0.707 to 0.959 (Table 2). Thus, those constructs showed acceptable item reliability. Then, the AVE and CR values were also evaluated to measure the convergent validity. As Hair et al. (2017) suggested, they must be greater than 0.50 and 0.70, respectively. The results indicated higher than the critical threshold value.
Table 2: Reliability and Validity Analysis
In the analysis, the Heterotrait–Monotrite (HTMT) criteria are used (Henseler et al., 2009) instead of conventional methods (Fornell & Larcker, 1981) for the examination of discriminant validity. From the results of Table 3, it was discovered that the discriminant validity criteria were satisfied because all HTMT values were less than 0.85 (Kline, 2016).
Table 3: Heterotrait-Monotrait Ratio (HTMT)
Notes: OC: Organizational commitment; JI: Job itself; JS: Job satisfaction; PA: Payment; RR: Reward and recognition; SU: Supervision; WC: Working conditions.
4.2. Structural Model Results
First, the variance inflation factor (VIF) was employed to analyze the multicollinearity violation. Hair et al. (2014) advised that VIF values should be lower than five, which means that the constructs without collinearity problem. The results showed that all VIF values are below the threshold of 5, ranging from 1.583 to 4.017. Then, the R2 value of the endogenous constructs was also assessed. The R2 of the two endogenous variables: job satisfaction and employee engagement, were 0.807 and 0.551, reflecting high and moderate fit to explain over 80 percent and 55% of the variance, respectively (Henseler et al., 2009). In addition, the Q² of the model was assessed by using the blindfolding procedure to examine predictive accuracy. The findings indicate a value of 0.480 (job satisfaction) and 0.318 (employee commitment) of Q², which means the endogenous variables in the model have predictive relevance (Hair et al., 2016). Finally, non-parametric bootstrapping was employed (Wetzels et al., 2009) with 1, 000 replications to examine the structural model. Table 4 demonstrates the structural model that is exhibited from the PLS analysis. The results show that all the paths were significant.
Table 4: Structural Model Results
Notes: *p < 0.1; ***p < 0.01.
The study’s primary goal is to identify the essential job satisfaction factors and job satisfaction effect on organizational commitment of HEIs in Vietnam (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Structural Results in PLS-SEM
The job satisfaction construct comprises five major components: supervision, working conditions, payment, reward and recognition, and the job itself. As can be seen from the results, supervision was the most critical factor influencing job satisfaction (p < 0.01). Studies from Smerek and Peterson (2007) and Togia et al. (2004) are also consistent with this result. There should be a positive, constructive sense of purposefulness while employees are performing their tasks. Although it is difficult to affect the job itself directly, job redesign provides an opportunity to improve this variable (Smerek & Peterson, 2007). In addition, the manager should design a strategy to give employees a sense of pride and joy in their work (Valaei & Rezaei, 2016). Employees should also perform appropriate tasks for their abilities to be satisfied (Weiss et al., 1967).
The relationship between supervision and job satisfaction was found to be positively significant (p < 0.01), which is in line with the study done by Malik et al. (2010) and Toker (2011). Therefore, it can be interpreted that academicians at universities express high levels of satisfaction with supervision. The level of supervision has also been found to substantially affect faculty work satisfaction and commitment (Malik et al., 2010). Our findings imply that supervisory support and behavior are essential to increase employees’ overall well-being in the workplace.
As Hypothesis 3 predicted, there is a positive and significant relationship between working conditions and job satisfaction (p < 0.01). In other words, our result confirms that job satisfaction significantly depends on the quality of the working conditions. Studies from Togia et al. (2004) and Turkyilmaz et al. (2011) also provide the same results. Turkyilmaz et al. (2011) suggested that management develop a modern working environment concept to increase employee productivity. However, if employees are dissatisfied with their working conditions, this can have a detrimental impact on their loyalty, affecting their decision to leave (Arah et al., 2011).
Our results proposed that payment has a notable influence on employees’ satisfaction (p < 0.1), which is consistent with the findings of Chen et al. (2006) and Malik et al. (2010) in the higher education context. Chen et al. (2006) supported the education providers by identifying the employee satisfaction factors, including payment, workplace benefits, and a proper promotional framework. In addition, Kamal and Hanif (2009) stated that managers could implement changes in organizational pay scales to increase their engagement level, which could produce higher employee satisfaction.
The relationship between reward and recognition and job satisfaction was positively correlated (p < 0.1). Our findings suggest that HEIs must have policies that explicitly reward and recognize employees’ contributions. This is one method of encouraging employees to devote more time and effort to the organization. Reward and recognition programs are vital for employee engagement and overall job satisfaction. Recognizing success in similar efforts by any employee or department should be rewarded to promote a specific performance standard. Individual performance-based reward systems should be implemented within the institution (Turkyilmaz et al., 2011). When staff sees their work valued and acknowledged by peers and leaders, it inspires them to improve. Praise or compliments, and how leaders deliver them, also influence faculty job satisfaction (Lien, 2017).
As Hypothesis 6 predicted, the relationship between job satisfaction and organizational commitment was found to be positively significant (p < 0.01). This outcome was reinforced by the work of Malik et al. (2010) and Mannheim et al. (1997). Furthermore, employees who are satisfied with their pay, job itself, working conditions, and supervision are more committed to their organization, according to Kamal and Hanif (2009) and Malik et al. (2010). Therefore, our results suggested that employers should ensure that workers are delighted with their job and continuously enhance it. Hence, the desired level of organizational commitment can be achieved through these actions. In addition, Malik et al. (2010) suggested that academic administrators should satisfy and engage their employees by implementing both intrinsic and extrinsic incentives.
In general, the findings indicate that employees at HEIs who demonstrate a high level of ability use and supervisor support are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs. Other factors also contribute to staff satisfaction in terms of payment, workplace atmosphere, and reward policies. In addition, employees’ attitude impacts significantly on the intention to stay and contribute to the organization. About the above two points, it is crucial to consider these elements since they are vital components of work satisfaction and might be pivotal to implementing committed-influencing policies.
Without a doubt, human resources play a significant role in all strategic decisions made by corporations. No organization, especially those in the educational sector, can function effectively without talented and skilled employees. As a result, administrators are responsible for developing effective strategies that promote employees’ satisfaction and organizational commitment to HEIs.
In this study, a theoretical framework is proposed to identify factors affecting job satisfaction and organizational commitment in Vietnam HEIs. Five factors affecting job satisfaction have been chosen: supervision, working conditions, payment, reward and recognition, and the job itself. The results indicate that job satisfaction and organizational commitment have a positive linear relationship. Thus, this research provides a comprehensive approach for Vietnam HEIs to improve employee performance and retention by analyzing outcome aspects influencing satisfaction and commitment.
The findings suggest that while most employees appreciate their job satisfaction, the assessment criteria are varied and inconsistent. The studies indicated that all factors significantly affect factors of job satisfaction. Therefore, higher education administrators should design and implement effective policies to ensure employees’ engagement and commitment. In addition, policymakers should consider cultivating variables that increase job satisfaction regarding job fitting, promoting supervisory support, providing healthy working conditions, compen- sation, establishing a transparent and motivating reward and recognition program, and neutralizing factors that hinder fulfillment.
However, like any study, this research is subject to some limitations. This study examines only five variables related to job satisfaction for employees in HEIs. Also, the study uses convenient sampling with a moderate sample size. Therefore, future research may incorporate additional job satisfaction variables in other Vietnam HEIs to better understand the topic.
This research is funded by Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City (VNU-HCM) under grant number C2020-28-05.
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