Le concept de qualité de vie au travail sert à mesurer si le milieu de travail est favorable au bien-être des employés. Son utilisation dans cette étude permet une meilleure connaissance et une meilleure compréhension des déceptions, des doléances ou des insuffisances gui engendrent un mauvais moral parmi les professionnels. Il permet d'évaluer s'il existe une harmonie entre les attentes des professionnels à l'égard de leur emploi et les contraintes ou les exigences de leur milieu de travail.
According to many observers, there seems to be a feeling of depreciation and disillusion among the professionals in Quebec's public service. In this study on the quality of their work life, we have tried to identify the main components and to define the extent, the meaning and the origins of this feeling. We intend to provide a better knowledge and understanding of the disappointments, complaints and inadequacies which breed low spirits among these professionals. We wish to determine whether their expectations concerning their job are in keeping with the restraints and requirements of their working place. Such a diagnosis will then make it possible to delimit precise fields where improvement is imperative.
The data for this study were collected in November and December 1987 and in January 1988. A questionnaire was sent to a probability sample of 4 502 professionals, divided in three areas of employment (Greater Quebec City, Greater Montreal and the remaining areas), and in 24 government departments and 48 agencies. This sample was picked at systematic random among some 13 000 professionals, whether or not they are members of a union, and who are under Quebec's law on public service. No reminder was sent, and the overall reply rate reached 50,8 %. The 2 289 professionals who took part in the research are proportionally representative of all the employees of that category, according to detalls such as sex, age, number of years in service, employment area, size of organization.
The quality of professional life has been looked at from two main angles: in one case, the focus is on the causes of satisfaction or dissatisfaction at work (richness of the job, goals of excellence to be achieved, conditions making work easier, economic benefits of the job, professional prospects, relationships with office colleagues, immediate superior's management practices); the second point of view is that of the symptoms of dissatisfaction at work (absenteeism, propensity to quit job, emotional crises, physiological trouble).
Among the causes of satisfaction, two are related to the content or the nature of the work, and five are linked with the working environment. The two intrinsic causes of satisfaction depend on the work itself and have to do with the richness of the job and the goals of excellence to be achieved. They account for only 13,6 %of the variation in the degree of satisfaction of the professionals at work. In fact, these two causes can not be considered the main factors in the professionals' dissatisfaction. The five extrinsic causes of satisfaction corne from the specific material, human and administrative context of an organization in which one works. They are related to the immediate superior's management practices, the professional prospects, the economic benefits of the job, the conditions that make work easier and the relationships with the office colleagues. These account for 52 %of the variation in the degree of satisfaction of the professionals at work, the immediate superior's management practices alone being responsible for 33,4 % of that variation. In other words, the professionals' overall degree of satisfaction varies a lot according to the management behaviors of the immediate superior and little according to other factors.
The causes pertaining to the working environment are responsible both for the most satisfaction and the most dissatisfaction of Quebec's public service professionals. In fact, relationships with colleagues and economic benefits cause the most satisfaction, whereas professional prospects, conditions making work easier and immediate superior's management practices cause the most dissatisfaction. Between both extrêmes are to be found the causes related to the nature of the work — the richness of the job and the goals of excellence to be achieved.
More specifically, we have tried to determine, in this study, whether the quality of work life varies according to situational factors pertaining to the status of the administrative unit, the nature of its activities, the kind of management of its head and the quality of its employees.
Results of this study show that the immediate superior's management behaviors account for the largest part of the variation in the degree of satisfaction at work of Quebec's public service professionals, not only with their job in gênerai, but also with almost every particular aspect of it. Only one symptom, the professionals' propensity to leave their administrative unit, is caused more by the aspect of the richness of their work than by that of their superior's management practices. Results also show that professionals always tend to be more satisfied with the different aspects of their job when they work in units run by managers who prefer to try persuasion or to seek advice. On the other hand, they tend to express more discontent when they have to work under managers who are of a domineering, directing or abdicant kind.
Thus, the aspect of the management practices of executives has to be the predominant factor in the measures to be taken in order to improve the quality of work life of Quebec's public service professionals. However, they might also show less dissatisfaction, if the conditions making work easier and the professional prospects were improved. Both these aspects obviously deserve more attention than what they have received so far.
Finally, it is important to note that the ideal of professionalism, based on the concept of autonomy in the fulfilment of one's work, does not seem to be considered an issue of major importance by Quebec's public service professionals. These employees appreciate the idea of having a relative freedom of action, provided it is not unlimited; they do not perceive controls exerted by the authority as a threat to their professional autonomy.
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