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Employee perception of organisational justice – Implications for job satisfaction in Nigeria

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Organisational outcomes and employee productivity are enhanced when workers derive maximum satisfaction from their jobs. Employee behaviour patterns such as lateness to work, absenteeism, conflict at work, and even an intention to leave an organisation are significantly influenced by job satisfaction or the lack of it. This leads to the question: Does employee perception of reward and workplace treatment affect their satisfaction or dissatisfaction at work? Rose Ogbechie and Olubunmi Adefisayo answer this pertinent question in their recent study that investigated the effects of employees’ perceptions of organisational justice on job satisfaction in Nigeria.

Organisational justice refers to the perceptions of fairness that workers hold in their minds when they consider the outcomes/rewards they receive from their employers. These rewards can come in form of wages or bonuses for a specified task performed, or as punishments or penalties for going against rules and regulations of the organisation.

Employees’ motivation to work effectively and efficiently is not only affected by the provision of financial benefits and tangible incentives, but also by the feelings of fairness (or otherwise) they perceive in the course of performing their duties and responsibilities on daily basis. The non-financial/non-tangible needs range from simple physiological needs such as pleasant and safe work environment, to higher order physiological needs such as challenging task and recognition of employees’ contribution to the growth of the organisation. Everybody wants to be rewarded for a job well done.

Job satisfaction is a pleasurable emotional state resulting from the evaluation of an employee’s experience at work, it is a good predictor of individual productivity and overall organisational output and profitability. How? A dissatisfied worker has low self-esteem and is usually unwilling to perform duties as effective as he should. A large number of this type of employees in the workplace will negatively affect customer satisfaction, organisational profitability, and value.

In the course of their investigation, the authors identified three dimensions of organisational justice: distributive justice, procedural justice, and interactional justice, and explored the ability of these three dimensions to predict overall job satisfaction within the context of Nigeria. Distributive justice refers to the way in which organisation’s rewards are distributed among workers. It is the perceived fairness in the manner in which wages, benefits and other rewards are allocated to employees in relation to their contributions. When each worker’s ratio of outcomes (they received) to inputs (they gave) is equal or close to equal in the employer-employee exchange or transaction, workers are said to be fairly treated. On the other hand, the exchange is inequitable or unfair when the ratio of a worker’s outputs (outcomes) to inputs is lower than those of others. In procedural justice, people’s perception of justice is in the process through which outcomes are distributed, i.e. fairness in the procedure of distributing rewards to employees.

In this regard, workers are not only concerned with the distribution of the outcomes, but also in the process through which those outcomes are allocated. The third dimension, interactional justice, is a recent form of organisational justice and it refers to the perceived fairness in the quality of interpersonal relationship among workers, and between employees and employers. Thus, apart from fairness in outcomes and procedures, the way people are treated in an organisation is an important part of organisational justice.

According to the findings, the three dimensions of organisational justice are uniquely different from each other, and this makes them distinct predictors of how perceptions of fairness at work influence job satisfaction. Interestingly, of all the three dimensions studied, interactional justice is the only significant and positive predictor of job satisfaction, while distributive and procedural justice are not significant in explaining job satisfaction. This implies that employees are more satisfied with and productive at their jobs when there is a feeling of friendship or companionship among them.

The practical implication of this is that, in decision making, managers should place a high priority on the interpersonal treatment of their workers. It is obvious that employees value the level of respect, dignity, propriety, and regard for feelings shown to them by their supervisors or employers during the course of performing their tasks. A severe interactional relationship between employer and employees will most definitely lead to low productivity and profitability in any organisation. Thus, it is imperative for organisations to ensure that their policies embody fairness towards employees in order to boost the levels of job satisfaction of workers, and in turn increase organisational outputs and growth.

Have you been unfairly treated by a previous or current employer? How did you manage the situation?

Join the conversation on Twitter @LBSNigeria and @LBSInsight

Rose Ogbechie teaches Business Ethics on MBA and Executive programmes at Lagos Business School


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