Date of Award

December 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Sciences

First Advisor

Mary K. Madsen

Committee Members

Aaron Buseh, Ron Cisler, Phyllis King, Timothy Patrick


Diversity, Generation, Job Satisfaction, Position Type, Workforce


Nationally, the public health workforce (PHW) consists of 155,000 staff (NACCHO, 2010). It is projected that half of the PHW will soon retire. Health departments must find ways to retain its diverse workforce.

Job Satisfaction is a critical variable that impacts a sustained PHW. Job Satisfaction assessments can promote sustainability of the workforce because the data assembled from the assessments can inform research, policy, and practice. Public health workers that report high Job Satisfaction are less likely to quit as well as delay retirement (RWJF, 2013).

The purpose of this study is to examine the influence of position type and generational grouping on Job Satisfaction of the PHW in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. Two research questions were answered: Does position type and generational grouping influence Job Satisfaction? Position type is categorized into nine distinct roles including Public Health Nursing (PHN) and Health Educators (PHE). Generational grouping is categorized into four classes by year of birth.

The self-administered Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS; Spector, 1994) was disseminated via email to all 336 staff employed at various health departments in Milwaukee County; participation was voluntary. Study power was achieved (n = 145). The response was 45% and completion was 97%. The JSS included 19 socio-demographic and 36 Job Satisfaction items grouped in nine subscales graded on a six-point Likert scale. Higher scores represent greater Job Satisfaction when compared to the national baseline.

In this study, Job Satisfaction levels varied. When overall Job Satisfaction was assessed by generational grouping, the Milwaukee County PHW sample was more satisfied than the baseline; this was statistically significant. Traditionalists and Generation X were least satisfied compared to Generation Y, which was most satisfied, beyond the baseline.

Overall Job Satisfaction was not statistically significant by position type. Environmental Health Professionals were least satisfied compared to PHE, which reported the greatest satisfaction far beyond the baseline. However, four sub-scales were statistically significant among groups of public health workers. Administrators reported the greatest satisfaction for contingent rewards, promotion, and operating procedures. Other Professional Staff reported the greatest satisfaction for their coworkers. PHNs reported lower satisfaction for promotion and operating procedures.