Series on Meaningfulness at Work – Effects on Job Performance

What you do can be measured in a quantitative way but how you actually perform those tasks cannot. However, that is just as important to overall job satisfaction and job performance. Read on to see the intrinsic link between the two.

Nevin works as a Youth Development Specialist at a juvenile detention facility, working with habitual and sexual offending boys ranging in age from 10 to 18. Nevin has worked at juvenile facilities before, and even studied Psychology in school, which further developed his passion for working with youth. Nevin takes pride in the work he completes daily. He is there not only to manage the behaviour of the youth to ensure that they are meeting program expectations, but also to educate the youth so they see that the lifestyle they live involving gangs and violence is not the proper way.

Nevin learns a lot about the youth by listening to the tragic stories they tell and by reviewing their files. He reads the files to learn more about the youth and to ensure he does not trigger any negative reactions in them. Slowly, Nevin begins to reflect on his own life, and starts to become more appreciative of the things he has and the people he loves. In turn, it makes him look at how being a father can impact his children because most of the boys he works with don’t have a father in their lives.

Eventually, as the months go on and the stress piles up from the job, Nevin has become easily agitated. He has witnessed staff getting fired for not conducting a restraint properly, or for accidentally giving the youth the wrong medication. He has also seen staff blatantly not show up for work, at times making him the only one in a unit with the most aggressive kids, in turn making him feel unsafe. Over time, Nevin has become completely frustrated with the lack of staff to help cover different units, and the lack of support he would get from other staff.

When Nevin approaches his supervisor to discuss his concerns, he is told that this is the nature of the job. Some staff don’t think they are getting paid enough to deal with these behaviours and cannot handle the kids. Some staff witness the issues the kids have, deem them hopeless, and walk away from the job. Others have a tough time handling the stress from this job and end up calling in sick to find another job, then quitting on the spot days later. In addition there is a lot of staff that does not take the job seriously.

Eventually, Nevin quit this juvenile facility to go to another one that is more geared to youth who have been placed by Family and Youth Services. Although some job benefits were great at his former workplace, such as good health benefits, these were ultimately not sufficient to make him want to stay with that employer due to the poor work environment, lack of job security, high stress level, and low pay.

Nevin experiences a high job satisfaction for the type of work he performs and the field that he is in, but is dissatisfied with the job characteristics. The job characteristics for Nevin were less than ideal. Nevin was also experiencing high stress, poor working conditions, high workload, and a lack of social relationships. The job characteristics for Nevin contributed to his dissatisfaction. Time took its toll on Nevin as he became negatively impacted by his environment. As time went on, Nevin’s mindset was altered and thus the passion and emotion he poured into his work was decreasing. In Nevin’s case, absenteeism was a predictor of job satisfaction. As job satisfaction went down, absenteeism increased.

High levels of absenteeism have a long-term negative impact on the kids these individuals were hired to support because they need consistency and they need to build lasting positive relationships. As Nevin stated, once high levels of absenteeism begin then more turnover is proven to follow. This just increases the difficult nature of these positions because these kids already feel abandoned and the more turnover there is the harder it will be to build relationships with the kids that need it the most.