Job Characteristics Approach

Job characteristics Theory of Hackman and Oldham states that employees will work hard, when they are rewarded for the work they do, and when the work gives them satisfaction. Hence, they suggest that motivation satisfaction and performance should be integrated in the job design. According to this approach, any job can be described in terms of five core dimensions which are defined as follows:

Core job dimensions:

1) Skill variety: The degree to which the job requires that workers use a variety of different activities, talents and skills in order to successfully complete the job requirements.
2) Task identity: The degree to which the job allows workers to complete whole tasks from start to finish, rather than disjointed portions of the job.
3) Task significance: The degree to which the job significantly imparts the lives of others both within and outside the workplace.
4) Autonomy: The degree to which the job allows workers freedom in planning and scheduling and the methods used to complete the job.
5) Feedback: The degree to which the job itself provides workers with clear, direct and understandable knowledge of their performance.

The entire job dimensions impact workers psychologically. The first three dimensions affect whether or not workers view their job as meaningful. Autonomy determines the extent of responsibility that the workers feel. Feedback allows for feelings of satisfaction for a job well done by providing knowledge of results.

The core job dimensions can be combined into a single predictive index called the Motivating Potential score. Its computation is as follows:

Motivating potential score = Skill variety + Task identity + Task Significance / 3 x Autonomy x Feedback

Critical psychological states: The model states that core job dimensions are more rewarding when individuals experience three psychological states in response to job design.

Personal and work outcomes: Jobs are high on motivating potential and must be high at least in one of the three factors that lead to meaningful work and must be high in both autonomy and feedback and vice-a-versa. These three critical psychological states lead to outcomes such as (1) high internal work motivation (2) high growth satisfaction, (3) high quality work performance, (4) high general job satisfaction, (5) high work effectiveness and (6) low absenteeism and turnover (Figure). The models say that internal rewards are obtained by the individual when he learns that he personally has performed well on a task that he cares about

Job characteristics model:

Core Job Dimension  Critical Psychological States  Core Job Dimension

Skills variety
Task identity
Task Significance  meaningfulness of work  High internal work motivation  High quality work performance  High satisfaction with work  High work effectiveness  Low absenteeism and turnover.

Autonomy  Responsibility for outcomes of the work

Feedback  Knowledge of the actual results of the work activities  Employee growth needs strengths

Research finding on the job characteristics model have been generally supportive. These studies have indicated that:

1) People who work on jobs with high core job dimensions are more motivated satisfied and productive than those who do not.
2) People with strong growth needs respond in a positive way to jobs that have high motivating potential than do those with weak growth dimensions.

The structure of work therefore has a significant bearing on an employee’s motivation level. The decision to structure a job in a particular way reflects other considerations (such as environment technology skill, levels etc) apart from the job’s motivating potential.

Ironically the main features of the job characteristics design method – its intrinsic psychological motivation may be its biggest drawback. Supervisors attempting to apply these principles may discover that for many employees these psychological states are unimportant. In fact, research to date indicates that some employees respond exceedingly well to jobs redesigned according to job characteristics dimensions, whereas for others, it has no discernible impact.
Source: HRM

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