Job design

Job design (also referred to as work design or task design) is a core function of human resource management and it is related to the specification of contents, methods and relationship of jobs in order to satisfy technological and organizational requirements as well as the social and personal requirements of the job holder.[1] Its principles are geared towards how the nature of a person's job affects their attitudes and behavior at work, particularly relating to characteristics such as skill variety and autonomy.[2] The aim of a job design is to improve job satisfaction, to improve through-put, to improve quality and to reduce employee problems (e.g., grievances, absenteeism).

Job characteristic theory

The job characteristic theory proposed by Hackman & Oldham (1976)[3] stated that work should be designed to have five core job characteristics, which engender three critical psychological states in individuals—experiencing meaning, feeling responsible for outcomes, and understanding the results of their efforts. In turn, these psychological states were proposed to enhance employees’ intrinsic motivation, job satisfaction, quality of work and performance, while reducing turnover.[4]

Core job dimensions

  1. Skill variety — This refers to the range of skills and activities necessary to complete the job. The more a person is required to use a wide variety of skills, the more satisfying the job is likely to be.
  2. Task identity — This dimension measures the degree to which the job requires completion of a whole and identifiable piece of work. Employees who are involved in an activity from start to finish are usually more satisfied.
  3. Task significance — This looks at the impact and influence of a job. Jobs are more satisfying if people believe that they make a difference, and are adding real value to colleagues, the organization, or the larger community.
  4. Autonomy — This describes the amount of individual choice and discretion involved in a job. More autonomy leads to more satisfaction. For instance, a job is likely to be more satisfying if people are involved in making decisions, instead of simply being told what to do.
  5. Feedback — This dimension measures the amount of information an employee receives about his or her performance, and the extent to which he or she can see the impact of the work. The more people are told about their performance, the more interested they will be in doing a good job. So, sharing production figures, customer satisfaction scores etc. can increase the feedback levels.

Critical psychological states

The five core job dimensions listed above result in three different psychological states.

Techniques of job design

Job rotation

See also: Job rotation

Job rotation is a job design method which is able to enhance motivation, develop workers' outlook, increase productivity, improve the organization's performance on various levels by its multi-skilled workers, and provides new opportunities to improve the attitude, thought, capabilities and skills of workers.[5] Job rotation is also process by which employees laterally mobilize and serve their tasks in different organizational levels; when an individual experiences different posts and responsibilities in an organization, ability increases to evaluate his capabilities in the organization.[6]

Job enlargement

See also: Job enlargement

Hulin and Blood (1968)[7] define Job enlargement as the process of allowing individual workers to determine their own pace (within limits), to serve as their own inspectors by giving them responsibility for quality control, to repair their own mistakes, to be responsible for their own machine set-up and repair, and to attain choice of method. Frederick Herzberg[8] referred to the addition of interrelated tasks as 'horizontal job loading'.

Job enrichment

See also: Job enrichment

Job enrichment increases the employees’ autonomy over the planning and execution of their own work. Job enrichment has the same motivational advantages of job enlargement, however it has the added benefit of granting workers autonomy. Frederick Herzberg[9] viewed job enrichment as 'vertical job loading' because it also includes tasks formerly performed by someone at a higher level where planning and control are involved.

Scientific management

Under scientific management people would be directed by reason and the problems of industrial unrest would be appropriately (i.e., scientifically) addressed. This philosophy is oriented toward the maximum gains possible to employees. Managers would guarantee that their subordinates would have access to the maximum of economic gains by means of rationalized processes. Organizations were portrayed as rationalized sites, designed and managed according to a rule of rationality imported from the world of technique.[10]

Human Relations School

The Human Relations School takes the view that businesses are social systems in which psychological and emotional factors have a significant influence on productivity. The common elements in human relations theory are the beliefs that

Socio-technical systems

Socio-technical systems aims on jointly optimizing the operation of the social and technical system; the good or service would then be efficiently produced and psychological needs of the workers fulfilled. Embedded in Socio-technical Systems are motivational assumptions, such as intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.[12]

Work reform

Work reform states about the workplace relation and the changes made which are more suitable to management and employee to encourage increased workforce participation.

Motivational work design

The psychological literature on employee motivation contains considerable evidence that job design can influence satisfaction, motivation and job performance. It influences them primarily because it affects the relationship between the employee's expectancy that increased performance will lead to rewards and the preference of different rewards for the individual.[13]

Hackman and Oldman developed the theory that a workplace can be redesigned to greater improve their core job characteristics. Their overall concept consists of:

A similar theory was also mentioned earlier by Frederick Herzberg. Herzberg theory consist of a Two Factor Theory:

  1. Hygiene Factors
  2. Motivational Factors

See also


  1. Rush, Harold F. M. (1971). Job Design for Motivation. New York: The Conference Board. p. 5.
  2. Wall, T. D.; S. Parker (2001). Neil J. Smelser and Paul B. Baltes, ed. International encyclopedia of the social & behavioral sciences (Encyclopedia) (2nd. ed.). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier. pp. 7980–7983. ISBN 978-0-08-054805-0.
  3. Hackman, J.Richard; Oldham, Greg R. (August 1976). "Motivation through the design of work: test of a theory". Organizational Behavior and Human Performance. 16 (2): 250–279. doi:10.1016/0030-5073(76)90016-7.
  4. Parker, Sharon K. (3 January 2014). "Beyond Motivation: Job and Work Design for Development, Health, Ambidexterity, and More". Annual Review of Psychology. 65 (1): 661–691. doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115208.
  5. Casad, Scott (2012). "Implications of job rotation literature for performance improvement practitioners". Performance Improvement Quarterly. 25 (2): 27–41. doi:10.1002/piq.21118.
  6. Asensio-Cuesta, S.; Diego-Mas, J.A.; Cremades-Oliver, L.V.; González-Cruz, M.C. (15 December 2012). "A method to design job rotation schedules to prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders in repetitive work". International Journal of Production Research. 50 (24): 7467–7478. doi:10.1080/00207543.2011.653452.
  7. HULIN, CHARLES L.; BLOOD, MILTON R. (1968). "JOB ENLARGEMENT, INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES, AND WORKER RESPONSES.". Psychological Bulletin. 69 (1): 41–55. doi:10.1037/h0025356.
  8. Herzberg, F. (1968). One more time: How do you motivate employees. Boston: Harvard Business Review. pp. 46–57.
  9. Herzberg, F. (1968). One more time: How do you motivate employees. Boston: Harvard Business Review. pp. 46–57.
  10. Schultz, Duane P.; Sydney Ellen Schultz (2010). Psychology and work today : an introduction to industrial and organizational psychology (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall. p. 159. ISBN 0205683584.
  11. Osland, Joyce S.; et al. (2007). Organizational behavior : an experiential approach (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall. pp. 35–36. ISBN 0131441515.
  12. Osland, Joyce S.; et al. (2007). Organizational behavior : an experiential approach (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall. p. 108. ISBN 0131441515.
  13. Lawler, Edward (1973). Motivation in Work Organizations. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company INC. p. 148.
  14. Schultz, Duane P.; Sydney Ellen Schultz (2010). Psychology and work today : an introduction to industrial and organizational psychology (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall. p. 227. ISBN 0205683584.
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