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MEDIATING EFFECTS OF CAREER STAGE ON JOB RELATED

CHARACTERISTICS - JOB SATISFACTION RELATIONSHIP

Abstract: Despite the fact that job satisfaction has occupied the attention of many authors
for decades, this is still fruitful area to investigate because there are still many important
questions that require answers. One of these questions is whether the career stages, in which
employees currently are, have an impact on job related characteristics which have dominate
influence on their job satisfaction. Our assumption was that career stages moderate job related
characteristics - job satisfaction relationship. In order to test this assumption, primary research
was conducted in organizations in Serbia. The sample included 813 employees. For checking the
initial assumptions, descriptive statistics and multivariate analysis of variance were applied. The
research methodology also included theoretical analysis of the concept of job satisfaction and
career stages in process of career development. Results of the study showed that career stages
moderate job related characteristics - job satisfaction to a large extent, except the pay and
contingent rewards which have significant influence on job satisfaction for the employees in
organizations in Serbia in all career stage. These results could be explained by unfavorable
economical conditions in Serbia such as low standard of living and high unemployment rate.
Key words: job satisfaction, career stages, employees, human resource management
practices.

Introduction

There is no doubt that human resources are the key organizational resources. They are the
only resource that can create and use other resources which otherwise will be the bunch of
useless things. The importance of human resources also lies in the fact that their attitudes toward
job influence their behavior, which consequently influences the results they achieve (Cole &
Cole, 2009). Finally and most importantly, the importance of human resources lies in the fact that
they can be the source of sustainable competitive advantage of organizations (Barney, 1991;
Wright et al., 1993).
Having in mind all these facts it is not surprising that employees` competencies, attitudes
and behavior have occupied for decades the attention of authors from many fields, such as:
human capital theory, human resource management, organizational behavior etc. By studying the
employees` attitudes toward work and their behavior in an organization, many authors come to
conclusion that human resources are the most productive and use their full potential towards
achieving organizational goals when they are satisfied with their job (Gu & Chi, 2009; Latif et
al., 2011; Kuzey, 2012).
Job, however, has many aspects which may have importance for the employees. These
aspects may include job itself, pay, possibilities for promotion, relationship with co-workers and
supervisors, working conditions, etc. In order to investigate and measure the influence of these
factors many instruments have been developed so far. The most known are Minnesota
Satisfaction Questionnaire (MSQ) (Weiss et al., 1967), Job Descriptive Index (JDI) (Roznowski,
1989), Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS) (Hackman & Oldham, 1974), Job in General Scale (JIG)
(Ironson et al., 1989), Global Job Satisfaction (GJS) (Rice et al., 1991), Job Satisfaction Survey
(JSS) (Spector, 1985), etc. Variety of instruments and aspects of job that can be measured
somehow show that there is no "gold standard" about which job aspects should be taken into
account when job satisfaction is measured (van Saane et al., 2003).
Besides the fact that there are plenty of aspects of job whose influence on employees` job
satisfaction can be measured, there are also plenty of factors that have an impact on particular
aspects of job which have an importance for them. We believe that career stages in which the
employees currently are have significant influence on job aspects which are important to them.
We based this assumption on the fact that the employees regardless of personality structure,
profession, background, gender etc., during career go through similar stages which bring to them
similar concerns, challenges, expectations and needs and if they are met the employees will
experience higher level of job satisfaction.
So far, plenty of studies that investigated the influence of career stages on work related
outcomes have been conducted. In some studies, direct positive influence of career stages on job
satisfaction (Cron & Slocum, 1986), organizational commitment (Ahmad & Ashraf, 2013),
organizational citizenship behavior (Singh & Singh, 2010), etc were found. In others, moderating
influence was found. For example, moderating influence was found in job satisfaction-
performances relationship (Gould & Hawkins, 1978), job attitudes-performances relationship
(Slocum & Cron, 1985), etc. However, there are only few studies that investigated moderating
influence of career on job characteristics - job satisfaction relationship. In addition, these types of
studies were mostly limited to some particular professions, such as salespersons (Menguc &
Bhuian, 2004), accountants (Rebele et. al., 1996), tourism (Kovaevi et al., 2012), etc. Having
in mind all these facts we were motivate to conduct the survey where career stages are seen as the
moderating variable in job related characteristics - job satisfaction relationship regardless of the
employees` profession.
We believe that this research will contribute to the existing base of knowledge in this filed
in several ways. Firstly, we will investigate the moderating influence of career stages on job
related characteristic - job satisfaction relationship which is not much investigated in the
literature. Secondly, we will not limit our research on particular profession. Therefore, we
believe that our conclusions tend to have universal elements. Thirdly, we will conduct the survey
on the territory where these kinds of researches are very rare. Most researches in this field were
conducted on the territory of the USA and UK (Frank & Veea, 2008). Therefore, we expect
that the obtained results could put a new insight into moderating influence of career stages on job
related characteristics - job satisfaction relationship since the employees on this territory are
faced with specific economical conditions (transition, high rate of unemployment etc.) and
therefore may have different needs relating to the job. Finally, having in mind that HRM practices
have critical role in providing appropriate employees` behavior (Berber et al., 2014), we will
propose the set of human resource management (HRM) practices that will result in more satisfied
and, hence, more productive employees.
The research problem could be formulated as follows: what are the basic expectations,
needs and concerns of employees in certain career stages regarding the job they perform and what
relationship between their fulfilment and job satisfaction is.
The aim of the study is to investigate whether some job related characteristics have more
significant influence on job satisfaction of the employees in certain career stages and to present
the results of such research conducted on the sample of respondents from organizations in Serbia.
The paper is organized as follows. Firstly, it will give an overview of the literature on the
concept of job satisfaction and career stages. The second part of the paper will present starting
hypotheses and describe the models that we will use to check their validity. The third part will
explain the methodology and present the results. The fourth part will focus on discussion of the
results. The final part of the paper will present recommendations for HRM, concluding remarks
and limitation of the study.

Theoretical Background

For majority of people job is essential part of their identity. Therefore, it is not surprising
that some people when introduce themselves to other people besides their surname or name add
their profession too (Judge & Klinger, 2008). Having in mind this fact, it is reasonable to expect
that job satisfaction, as "a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of
one`s job or job experiences" (Locke, 1976, p. 1304), is important category for them. On the
other hand, there is a generally accepted opinion that satisfied employees are also the productive
employees. Therefore, it implies that employees` satisfaction with their job should be an
important issue for organizations as well.
In order to investigate the consequences of job satisfaction, many studies have been
conducted so far. For example, there are studies that investigated relationship between job
satisfaction and subjective well-being (Judge & Klinger, 2008). The others investigated
relationship with attendance at work (Smith, 1997), turnover intentions (Crasten & Spector
1987), organizational citizenship behavior (Farrell, 1983), organizational commitment (Azeem,
2010), etc. There are also studies that investigated job satisfaction - job performance relationship.
Judge et al. (2001) noted that studying this kind of relationship is probably one of the most
venerable research traditions in industrial-organizational psychology dating till 1930s and famous
Hawthorne experiment (Judge et al., 2001).
Besides the fact that it is important to investigate the consequences of job satisfaction, it is
very important to investigate the factors that influence this phenomenon as well. By knowing the
causality of job satisfaction, the organizations may design and implement certain HRM practices
that will lead to more satisfied and, hence, more productive employees. According to Judge and
Klinger (2008) all studies that so far have investigated causality of job satisfaction in its essence
were based on three types of assumptions which produced three models of job satisfaction: the
situational model of job satisfaction, the dispositional model of job satisfaction and the
interactional model of job satisfaction (Judge & Klinger, 2008). The situational model of job
satisfaction is based on the premise that job satisfaction stems from the job characteristics or
other aspects of the environment. This model is also based on the assumption that all people have
similar needs and that they can be met by the same job characteristics and hence produce job
satisfaction (Hackman & Oldham, 1980; Quarstein et al., 1992; Hauff et al., 2015). On the other
hand, the dispositional model of job satisfaction states that certain relatively stable personal
characteristics influence job satisfaction regardless of the job characteristics and situation (Judge
et al., 2002). Finally, the interactional model of job satisfaction states that the fit between the
person and the environment influences job satisfaction (Chatman, 1989).
The study we conducted is based on the assumption that job satisfaction is influenced by job
related characteristics (situational model). Job related characteristics that we analyzed are
specified in Spector`s Job Satisfaction Survey (Spector, 1985). According to this author all job
related characteristics that might influence job satisfaction of the employees are divided into nine
groups (pay, promotion, fringe benefits, contingent reward, supervision, co-workers, operating
procedures, nature of work and communication). Our assumption was that thesejob related
characteristics have different importance for the employees in different career stages. Therefore,
we propose the following hypothesis:

H1: There is a difference in the job characteristics significance for job satisfaction in different
career stages.

Career stages

A career can be defined as "the pattern of work-related experiences that span the course of
a person`s life" (Greenhaus et al., 1999, p. 9). During this period people go through several stages
during which they are faced with more or less similar challenges, concerns and needs. In order to
explain the career dynamic and changes in crucial career concerns and challenges, several career
models have been developed.
One of them is the model of life development created by Levinson et al. (1978). These
authors claim that people regardless of their occupation or background go through specific life
stages which are connected with different crucial activities and psychological needs (Levinson et
al., 1978). According to these authors there are four phases in life development. These phases are:
childhood (0-20), early adulthood (20-40), middle adulthood (40-60), and late adulthood (over
60). They also claim that these phases are connected with the development of career as well.
Super (1957) also states that there are four major career stages, such as: exploration (15-
24), establishment (25-44), maintenance (45-64) and decline (over 65) (Supper, 1957).
Furthermore, Hall and Nugaim (1968) state that there are three career stages through which
individuals progress as they become integrated into organization. These phases are:
establishment, advancement and maintenance (Hall & Nugaim, 1968).
Based on the work of Super (1957), Cron (1984) also formulated his model of career
development which consists of four career stages: exploration, establishment, maintenance and
disengagement (Cron, 1984). Greenhaus et al., (1999) also formulated career developmental
model which consists of several phases such as: occupational choice/ preparation for work (0-25),
organizational entry (18-25), early career (25-40), middle career (40-55), and late career (over 55)
(Greenhaus et al., 1999).
Based on the work of mentioned authors, as well as by observing the real employees`
movements through career in the organizations that were included in our research, we formulated
our model of career stages which consists of five stages: exploration (under 18 or 25),
establishment (between 18 or 25 to 30), advancement (31-45), maintenance (46-60) and decline
(over 60).
As we earlier said, employees during different career stages experience different
challenges, concerns and have different needs and expectation. For the purpose of this paper, our
focus will be on critical career concerns and needs in four career stages (establishment,
advancement, maintenance and decline) in order to analyze how their fulfillment influence the
job satisfaction of the employees in that career stages.
According to many authors (Hall, 1976; Greenhaus et al., 1999) the primary concern of
employees in establishment stage is to establish themselves in the career and in the organization.
First of all most of them enter into the organizations with the expectation that their job will be
interesting, that they will use their talents and skills, that they will do something important and so
on. The second concern of the newly employed is to become accepted as an equal and regular
member of the organization. To become such a member the first precondition is to learn
organizational norms and values and to establish effective relationship with co-workers and
supervisors (Greenhaus et al., 1999). Having in mind all critical concerns, needs and expectations
of the newly employed, we believe that if these concerns, needs and expectations are met in the
practice, the newly employed will be more satisfied with their work. Therefore, we propose the
following hypothesis:

H2: The nature of work, operating procedures, relationship with co-workers and
supervisors as well as communication have more significant influence on job satisfaction of
employees in establishment stage than in advancement, maintenance and decline stages.

The following stage in career development is advancement stage during which


employees are usually concerned with achievement and promotion. In that line, Gould and
Hawkins state that as "one becomes established; interests turn into mastering the organization"
(Gould & Hawkins, 1978, p.436). Gould and Hawkins (1978) also state that during this stage
there are greater opportunities for promotion than in establishment stage and this goal is given
higher priority. Promotion also leads to pay rise. Other needs, such as satisfaction with job itself
and co-workers are of lesser importance (Gould & Hawkins, 1978). Greehnaus et al. (1999) also
claim that employees in advancement stage (even though they call it a period of achievement)
have concerns such as acquiring additional levels of responsibility and authority at work,
demonstrating continual and increasing competence in individuals work assignments etc.
(Greenhaus et al., 1999). Based on these crucial interests of the employees in this career stage
we believe that if they are met the employees will be more satisfied with their job. Therefore, we
propose the following hypothesis:

H3: Promotion and pay have more significant influence on job satisfaction for the
employees in advancement stage than in establishment, maintenance and decline stage.

According to Gould and Hawkins (1978) maintenance stage occurs after an employee has
proven himself in a number of assignments or real responsibilities (Gould & Hawkins, 1978). At
this stage, employees tend to be more concerned with maintaining their present job status,
position and performance level and are less interested in working harder to achieve additional
rewards (Flaherty & Pappas, 2002). Since the promotional opportunities usually decrease for
employees at this stage (and therefore pay is stabilized on certain level) their major concern at
this stage is usually whether their compensation package is well structured (monetary plus non-
monetary rewards). Having in mind that employees until this period spent a long time in
organizations, it is reasonable to believe that relational aspects in organizations (relationship with
co-workers, supervisors) are not in their focus because they probably have already developed
satisfactory relationship with them. Based on this we propose the following hypothesis:

H4: Fringe benefits have more significant influence on job satisfaction for employees at
maintenance stage than in establishment, achievement and decline stage.

At decline stage employees are usually less interested in working harder to achieve
additional rewards (pay and promotion) but rather to enjoy the status they were obtaining for
years working in an organization. "During this stage, the need to reduce the pace of work is
important as one plan for retirement" (Cron & Slocum, 1986, p.120). Therefore, we believe that
respect and recognition for achieved results are the most important job related characteristics that
influence their job satisfaction. Therefore, we propose the following hypothesis:

H5: Contingent rewards have more significant influence on job satisfaction for employees
at decline stage than at establishment, achievement and maintenance stage.

Method

Sampling method and data collection. In order to test previously mentioned hypothesis
the primary research was conducted. We were investigating the attitudes of employees in
organizations in Serbia on how job related characteristics influence their job satisfaction. The
research was carried out in the period from June to September 2016. The whole procedure of
sampling was realized in two phases. In the first phase, we used convenient sampling. In this way
we obtained the data from organizations in all parts of Serbia. In the second phase, quesitonares
were distributed in a written form in organizations. One part of the questionnaire included
questions related to general information about the respondents: gender, age, years of service,
level of education, and position in the organizational structure. The second part of the
questionnaire included questions related to job characteristics which influence their job
satisfaction.
Sample characteristics. The study initially included 1000 respondents, employed in 28
organizations operating on the territory of the Republic of Serbia. Out of 1000 distributed
questionnaires, 813 were usable, while 187 questionnaires were rejected due to inaccurate or
incomplete answers. In the structure of the sample, females accounted for 42.8%, while the share
of men was 57.2%. Regarding the age structure, the situation was as follows: 4.9% of
respondents were under 25, 9.5% were between 26 and 30, 32.8% were between 31 and 45 year,
38.6% were between 46 and 60, and 14.2% were over 60.
As far as years of service are concerned, employees, between 6 and 15 years of service,
had the highest share in the sample, amounting to 33.9%, followed by the employees with less
than five years of service, amounting to 26.9%. Somewhat lower share was held by the
employees between 16 and 25 years of service, 25.5%, whereas the lowest share was held by the
employees with more than 26 years of service, 17.7%. According to the results of the research the
highest share in the sample had the employees who have high school, amounting to 53,1%,
followed by the employees with high education amounting to 42,4%. The lowest share in the
sample was held by the employees with the elementary school, amounting to 3,7% and those
who held PhD, amounting to 0,7%.
Research variables and instruments. In order to measure employees` job satisfaction we
used Spector`s Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS) (Spector, 1985). This questionnaire is designed to
assess employee attitudes towards nine aspects of job that could influence job satisfaction, such
as: pay, promotion, fringe benefits, contingent rewards, supervision, co-workers, operating
procedures, nature of work and communication. Each aspect of job is assessed with four items
(Spector, 1985) by using five-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 strongly disagree, to 5
strongly agree. An answer of 4 or more points expresses satisfaction, while answers of 3 points
express neutral opinion and below 3 points express dissatisfaction. Since the questionnaire has
reverse questions during the analysis a reversal of initial coding was applied, so that in all
questions, high scores indicate great degrees of satisfaction, and vice versa.
In order to measure a career stage we used indirect method - ages. Even though there are
five career stages in our model, we analyzed four of them: establishment (from 18 or 25 to 30)
represented by number 1, advancement (31-45) represented by number 2, maintenance (46-60)
represented by number 3 and decline (over 60) represented by number 4.
Analyses and procedures. Data analysis was carried out in several steps. First, we used the
appropriate descriptive measures. To check the validity of our hypothesis, we used a multivariate
analysis of variance. The data were analyzed with the SPSS 17.0 program.

Results

Crnbach's Alpha value of 0.906 indicates a very good compatibility of the questions in the
questionnaire for a given sample. According to the data from Table 1, for column Correlated
Item-Total Correlation, there is a high degree of correlation of each item with the overall results.
Since all the values in the column Crnbach's Alpha if item Deleted are less than the final value of
alpha (0.906), we find that it is advisable that all items in the existing scale remain, and that this
scale is comparable to other studies which are based on such a scale. Also, the mean correlation
value between the items is 0,513, and correlation between pairs of items is from 0,384 to 0,767,
indicating strong correlation between items.
Tabela 1 Item-Total Statistics
Corrected Item- Cronbach's Alpha if
Domain Total Correlation Item Deleted
Pay ,809 ,886
Promotion ,795 ,886
Fringe benefits ,721 ,892
Contingent rewards ,641 ,899
Supervision ,621 ,900
Co-workers ,809 ,886
Operating procedures ,440 ,905
Nature of work ,558 ,901
Communication ,748 ,891
Crnbachs Alpha ,906
Valid N 813
Source: Authors
As it is shown in Table 2, there are significant variations in the perception of different
groups of factors for job satisfaction. Employees in Serbia give the greatest significance to:
contingent rewards, fringe benefits, pay satisfaction, while operating procedures and
communication have the least importance to job satisfaction.

Table 2 Descriptive Statistics


Type of satisfaction Mean Std. Deviation
Pay 3,897 1,0332
Promotion 3,719 1,1467
Fringe benefits 3,984 1,0822
Contingent rewards 4,343 1,0460
Supervision 3,574 ,9986
Co-workers 3,535 ,9500
Operating procedures 2,853 ,7479
Nature of work 3,505 ,6496
Communication 3,495 1,1777
Valid N 813
Source: Authors

Checking the existence of significant differences in impact of job related characteristics on job
satisfaction during different career stages was realized by implementation of multivariate analysis of
variance. After checking the assumptions related to the implementation of the MANOVA - adequate
sample size, absence of multivariate outliers, multivariate normality, linear relationship between each pair
of dependent variables, homogeneity of variance-covariance matrices, multicollinearity, we conclude that
conditions for testing are fulfilled and the results are given as follows.

Table 3 Multivariate Tests


Effect Hypothesis Partial Eta
Value F df Error df Sig. Squared
Intercept Pillai's Trace ,969 2798,017 9,000 801,000 ,000 ,969
Wilks' Lambda ,031 2798,017 9,000 801,000 ,000 ,969
Hotelling's Trace 31,438 2798,017 9,000 801,000 ,000 ,969
Roy's Largest Root 31,438 2798,017 9,000 801,000 ,000 ,969
Career Pillai's Trace ,355 11,972 27,000 2409,000 ,000 ,118
stages Wilks' Lambda ,678 12,332 27,000 2339,975 ,000 ,121
Hotelling's Trace ,427 12,646 27,000 2399,000 ,000 ,125
Roy's Largest Root ,251 22,382 9,000 803,000 ,000 ,201
Source: Authors
As Table 3 shows, in most cases there are statistically significant differences in job related
characteristics which influence job satisfaction of employees at different career stages. The data in Table
Multivariate Test show that in all criteria (Pillai's Trace, Wilks' Lambda ...) there is a statistically
significant difference in attitudes of respondents at different career stages regarding their job satisfaction.
Having in mind this fact, the hypothesis H1 is confirmed.
The results of the multivariate analysis of variance are presented in the Table 4.

Table 4 Multivariate analysis of variance


Subscale of Career stages F p- Partial Bonferroni
satisfaction 1 2 3 4 value Eta
Squa.
Pay 4,053 3,957 3,850 3,728 3,163 NS* ,012 -
1-3,1-4,
Promotion 3,105 4,471 3,883 3,419 11,685 ,000 ,042 2-3,2-4
Fringe benefits 4,026 4,046 4,117 3,748 15,519 ,000 ,054 1-4,2-4
Contingent rewards 1-2,1-3,
3,474 4,681 4,383 4,837 36,729 ,000 ,120 1-4,3-4
Supervision 1-2,1-3,
3,895 3,203 3,467 3,732 10,234 ,000 ,037 2-4
Co-workers 1-2,1-3,
4,132 3,116 3,217 3,675 13,062 ,000 ,046
1-4,2-4
Operating procedures 3,789 2,504 2,802 2,317 4,072 ,007 ,015
1-2,1-3,
1-4,2-3,3-4
Nature of work 3,667 3,391 3,478 3,485 2,845 NS* ,010 -
Communication 3,668 3,568 3,167 3,577 15,449 ,000 ,054 1-3,2-3,
3-4

Total satisfaction
3,756 3,659 3,596 3,613
N 57
207 180 369
*NS - Non-significant
Source: Authors

As Table 4 shows, pay as one of the job related characteristic that was analyzed has no
statistically significantly different influence on job satisfaction of employees at different career
stages. Having in mind that the mean values of the answers regarding the pay are between 3,728
and 4,053 we may conclude that pay significantly influence job satisfaction of all employees
regardless of a career stage. Table 4 also shows that nature of work also has no statistically
significantly different influence on job satisfaction of employees at different career states. Table
4 shows that there is a statistically significantly different influence on job satisfaction of all
other job related characteristics at different career stages.

Discussion

As we earlier said, the research we conducted confirmed the hypothesis H1 since in most
cases there are statistically significant differences in job related characteristics that influence job
satisfaction of employees at different career stages (Table 3).
Regarding the second hypothesis (H2), we assumed that the nature of work, operating
procedures, relationship with co-workers and supervisors as well as communication in
organization have more significant influence on job satisfaction of employees at establishment
stage than at advancement, maintenance and decline stage. The results we obtained show that job
related characteristics that have more significant influence on job satisfaction of employees at this
career stage compared to other career stages are: relationship with co-workers (4,132),
relationship with supervisors (3,895), operating procedures (3,789), communication (3,668) and
nature of work (3,667). According to these results, we can conclude that hypothesis H2 is
confirmed. To some extent, similar results were found in the study conducted by Slocum and
Cron (1985). In their study, job satisfaction of employees at establishment stage (although in their
study, this stage is called trial stage) is mostly influenced by the relationship with co-workers and
supervisors, as well as with work itself (Slocum & Cron, 1985).
However, when we analyze which job related characteristics most influence job
satisfaction of employees at establishment stage itself, the following job characteristics emerge:
relationship with co-workers (4,137), pay (4,053), fringe benefits (4,026), relationship with
supervisors (3.895), and communication (3,667). Significant influence of relationship with co-
workers and supervisors on job satisfaction of employees in organizations in Serbia lead to the
conclusion that the process of employees` socialization is conducted in adequate manner and that
co-workers and supervisors put enough effort in the attempt for newly employed to feel welcome
and part of an organization. Regarding pay and fringe benefits, the significant influence on job
satisfaction could be explained by the fact that unemployment rate in Serbia is very high,
especially unemployment rate of the young which is over 30% (Marjanovi, 2016). Therefore,
pay and fringe benefits, even though they are often very low, have a significant influence on job
satisfaction of employees since they provide financial resources for their living.
The research also shows that job related characteristics, such as operating procedures,
communication (3,667) and the nature of work have relatively small influence on job satisfaction
of employees at this career stage. Regarding operating procedures (3,789) and the nature of work
(3,668), we could find explanation for these relatively unsatisfactory results in the fact that newly
employed, even though they are satisfied with having any kind of job, probably had too much
positive expectations of the job tasks they would perform. This is in line with Greenhause and his
colleagues opinion (1999) that many newly employed who are faced with the fact that at the
beginning of their career they perform tasks which do not engage their full potential, do not
provide autonomy, or they might be in situations where no one takes seriously their suggestions
for improving work procedures. High expectations of newly employed could also be caused by
the character of their transition from school to real business world (Greenhaus, et al., 1999). So,
this can explain reasons why operating procedures and the nature of work have relatively low
level of influence on job satisfaction of employees in organizations in Serbia at this career stage.
Communication is a job related characteristic that has a very small influence on job
satisfaction of employees at establishment stage (3,667). According to this result, we can
conclude that although communication was not accessed well, there is a considerable space for
improvements in this area. This means that management in organizations in Serbia should find
better ways to make organization goals clearer to newly employed, establish better
communicational channels in organization, etc.
The results we obtain in our research show that promotion (3,105) and contingent rewards
(3,474) have the smallest influence on job satisfaction of employees at establishment career stage.
These results are somehow expectable. It is quite natural that new employees cannot expect high
promotion opportunities and special contingent rewards since they are in organization for a short
period of time.
The third hypothesis (H3) that we made was that promotion and pay have more
significant influence on job satisfaction of the employees at advancement stage than at
establishment, maintenance and decline stage. The results we obtained in our research show that
at advancement stage compared with others, promotion has more significant influence on job
satisfaction of employees. The reason why job satisfaction of employees in organizations in
Serbia at this career stage is significantly influenced by promotion could be explained by the fact
that there is a promotional system that allows those who do well in their job to be promoted. Due
to the fact that pay rises along with promotion it is natural that employees who are satisfied with
the promotional system will be satisfied with pay as well. Since pay, as a job related
characteristic, does not have a statistically significant influence on job satisfaction of employees
at different career stage (Table 4), we may conclude that hypothesis H3 is partly confirmed.
Further analysis of the results we obtained show that at advancement stage the most
significant influence on job satisfaction of employees in organizations in Serbia have contingent
rewards (4,681), promotion (4,471), fringe benefits (4,046) and pay (3,957). High influence of
contingent rewards, fringe benefits and pay could be explained by the same reasons as we
mentioned earlier: high unemployment rate and low living standard. So, the possibility of being
employed and having financial and non financial rewards is of high importance.
The results we obtained also show that among the job related characteristics that do not
have a small influence on job satisfaction of employees at this career stage are the following:
relationship with supervisors (3,467), co-workers (3,217) and operating procedures (2,802).
Regarding the relationship with supervisors we could explain a low level of influence on job
satisfaction at this career stage by the fact that supervisors may feel that their position are
jeopardized by the young and perspective employees and, hence, they are not friendly enough
with them. This fear is somehow reasonable since supervisors in many organizations in Serbia
(especially in the public sector) got their positions thanks to their political involvement. Also,
many of them did not obtain quality and relevant education. Regarding the relationship with co-
workers, a low level of influence on job satisfaction at this career stage could stem from the fact
that they actually compete for the same positions and therefore their relationship may not be
satisfactory enough. The operating procedures are accessed low since they are probably behind
the competencies of employees who tend to be promoted.
The fourth hypothesis (H4) that we made was that fringe benefits have more significant
influence on job satisfaction of employees at maintenance stage than in establishment,
achievement and decline stage. The results we obtained show that fringe benefits (4,117) is a job
related characteristic that influences job satisfaction of employees at this career stage more than
at other career stages. Therefore, we may conclude that hypothesis H4 is confirmed.
Further analysis of the results we obtained in our research show that contingent rewards
(4,383), fringe benefits (4,117), promotion (3,883) and pay (3,850) have the most significant
influence on job satisfaction of the employees in organizations in Serbia at maintenance career
stage. The explanation of these results, as we earlier said, we found in a low standard of living in
Serbia which causes people to put great importance on compensation they gain from their work.
The results considering promotion are encouraging. Having in mind this fact, it seems that those
who are good at their work have great chances of being promoted.
The results we obtained also show that among the job related characteristics that have
very small influence on job satisfaction of employees at maintenance career stage, are the
following: operating procedures (2,802) and communication (3,167). Based on these facts, we
may conclude that operating procedures for employees at this stage are not interesting and
challenging enough. Since employees at this career stage are still at the age when their
competencies and physical capacities are on relatively high level, the operating procedures are
important for them. Finally, based on the results, we also may conclude that communication is
also not satisfactory; therefore, this is the area which requires improvements.
The fifth hypothesis (H5) that we made was that contingent rewards have more significant
influence on job satisfaction of employees at decline stage than at establishment, achievement
and maintenance stage. The results we obtained in our research show that contingent rewards
(4,837), as a job related characteristic, influence job satisfaction of employees at this career stage
more than at other career stages. Therefore we may conclude that hypothesis H5 is confirmed.
Further analysis of the results we obtained in our research show that certain influences on
job satisfaction of employees in organizations in Serbia at decline career stage have almost all job
related characteristics, except the nature of work (3,485) and operating procedures (2,317).
Therefore we may conclude that the competencies and experience of older employees is not
properly used in their organizations. Since they are of great value to their organizations, they
should find the way to use their competencies and experience in a better way.
Implication for human resource management

Having in mind job related characteristics which do not have significant influence on job
satisfaction of employees in organizations in Serbia, we propose some HRM practices that might
lead to the increase of their job satisfaction, which as a consequence, might raise their
performances as well.
Having in mind that job satisfaction of employees at establishment stage, is significantly
influenced by relationship with co-worker and supervisors, but not enough with the nature of
work, operating procedures and communication, means that organizations in Serbia (i.e. their
management) should put emphasis on the soft side in the process of socialization. The hard side
of this process (introducing operating and working procedures) is that these procedures are not
interesting and meaningful enough for newly employed. Therefore, we recommend that programs
of orientation and introduction to work should be carefully designed and implemented in order
that newly employees better understand the content and importance of their work as well as their
role in the organization. Also, it would be useful if supervisors or HRM specialists explained to
newly-employed that it is quite natural that some of their expectations regarding the work content
cannot be met since they do not have enough experience with real working environment.
Since job satisfaction of employees at advancement stage is the least influenced by
operating procedures, relationship with co-workers and supervisors lead to the conclusion that
these variables are not at a satisfactory level in organizations in Serbia. Therefore, useful HRM
practices would be those that would lead to the improvement of the relationship between
employees. In that line, more team work, more celebrating and rewarding collective results,
more open and informal communication will be useful measures. Considering the low score on
operating procedures, their redesign would be appropriate measure as well. The aim of this
measure is to relieve employees of unnecessary paperwork and meaningless procedures whenever
possible.
Having in mind that operating procedures and relationship with supervisors have the least
influence on job satisfaction of employees at maintenance stage, the HRM practices for
improvement in this area are those that we already proposed. Introducing mentoring programs
where employees would have the opportunity to teach the younger ones and supervise their
advancement would be useful HRM practices for employees at this career stage in order to make
their work more interesting. Since our survey showed that operating procedures and the nature of
work have the least influence on job satisfaction of employees at decline stage their redesign
would be also appropriate HMR measure. Introducing mentoring programs would be also suitable
HRM practices for these employees that would make their job routine more interesting and
challenging.
Conclusion

The aim of our study was to investigate whether the career stages influence job related
characteristics - job satisfaction relationship on the sample of respondents from organizations in
Serbia. After analyzing the literature regarding the concepts of job satisfaction and career stages
as well the results that stem from the study we conducted, several conclusions arise.
First, although the concept of job satisfaction is one of the most investigated fields within
industrial-organizational psychology and human resource management, this is still a fruitful area
for investigating. Although the majority of factors that influence job satisfaction of employees are
already indentified, little research has been done regarding moderating effects of career stages on
job characteristics - job satisfaction relationship. Career stages are, however, useful concept for
analyzing the changes in employees` needs and attitudes toward work and therefore useful
concept for investigating job related characteristics - job satisfaction relationship.
Second, the results that we obtained in our research show that career stages in most cases
moderate the relationship between job-related characteristics and job satisfaction of employees in
organizations in Serbia. However, there are still job related characteristics such as pay and
contingent rewards in which we did not identify moderating effects of career stages on job
satisfaction. The explanation for these results we find in the fact that unemployment rate is very
high in Serbia and the standard of living is very low, so a possibility to have any amount of pay
and other rewards produce high level of job satisfaction regardless of what particular career stage
the employees are at.
Fourth, the results that stem from researching the moderating effects of career stages on
job related characteristics - job satisfaction could enhance human resource management practices
in organizations and, hence, improve their performances.

Limitations of the study

The study we conducted has several limitations.


First, the limitation of the study refers to the measurement of career stages. In this study
career stages were measured by indirect method (ages) but ages in some cases are not a
representative indicator of the career stage in which a particular employee is. For example,
someone may be at establishment career stage since he/she changed the organization although
he/she is at the age of around 40.
Second, our model of career stages is based on the real experience of employees whose
attitudes were investigated. Although this model of career stages is somehow a mix of career
models proposed by different authors, the results we obtained may not be comparable enough
with the results of the studies conducted in this area.
Third, the results we obtain in the study are to some extent influenced by the unfavorable
economical conditions in Serbia. This is another reason why our results might not be comparable
enough with the results of the studies that other authors will conduct in this area.
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