Questioning conventional wisdom: is a happy employee a good employee, or do other attitudes matter more

Michael C. Sturman, Sean Way

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Report)Researchpeer-review


The notion that good service results when companies ensure their employees’ satisfaction has found little support in empirical research. The idea is an enduring one, however, and it has been codified as the starting point in the widely espoused service-value-profit chain. This study of food and beverage managers in forty Asian hotels is the first to address this issue directly in the hospitality industry. The findings underscore the weak connection between workers’ satisfaction and the ratings of F&B supervisors. Instead, another factor has a much stronger effect on performance. That factor is the workplace climate, which comprises employees’ understanding of the practices, procedures, and behaviors that are rewarded, supported, and expected by the organization with regard to customer service and customer service quality. A strong workplace climate is a precursor to effective service performance, as measured by supervisors’ ratings of the F&B work groups in this study. None of this is to say that employers should disregard employees’ satisfaction with their jobs, particularly because of the influence of satisfaction on turnover and other workplace issues. To improve performance, however, this study reinforces existing research findings that managers should ensure that all employees understand what is expected of them and how their performance will be appraised and rewarded.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCornell Hospitality Report
EditorsGlenn Withiam
Place of PublicationIthica NY USA
PublisherCornell University
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameCornell Hospitality Report
PublisherCornell University


  • human resources
  • employee satisfaction
  • food and beverage management
  • Asia

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