Job Characteristics Model

Job Characteristics Model


Job characteristics model relates or connects the various aspects of a job or task to final performance-related outcomes like effort spent by employees, degree, quality and effectiveness of their performance, scope of career advancement on the current job, achievement motivation, job satisfaction, engagement level etc. It focuses on five crucial job or task characteristics which determine three psychological states that the performer of the job can experience or go through, and these psychological states in turn influence the desired outcomes related to the performance of the job.

The five important task characteristics as outlined by this model are task variety, task identity, task significance and degree of autonomy and feedback about the task performance. Let’s take an in-depth look at these five job or task characteristics:

–          Task variety – it implies a scope of getting assigned to different types of tasks so that an employee gets a chance to utilize a variety of skills or talents he or she possesses and to learn or acquire new skills. Task variety breaks the monotony that one can experience in the course of performing a same kind of job repetitively. A strategically determined balance is to be maintained while designing a job in terms of the extent of variety to be introduced. Incorporating too much variety will only add to the stress levels of employees whereas too less variety does not serve any purpose.

–          Task Identity – motivation and satisfaction of employees can be increased if they can see that their contributions are translating to some concrete and visible achievements for the organization. A greater sense of pride and enthusiasm is experienced when employees feel that they are contributing to the accomplishment of a larger part of a job.

–          Task Significance – it implies how significant or meaningful the work is that an employee is performing, how far-reaching its consequences are, to what extent this work is helping the organization in attaining its goals, whether the work is producing a positive impact on the society etc. When task significance is high, employees’ motivation and morale is also high.

–          Autonomy – Autonomy over one’s job fosters creativity and innovation since in absence of micromanagement or excessive supervision and managerial control, employees feel free to do the work the way they deem best, or to try out new techniques and procedures for accomplishment of the job.  Employees also feel like job owners and that leads to a greater sense of responsibility and accountability for the job.

–          Feedback – Feedback about one’s performance is the most accurate source from which an employee can learn about his or her strengths and weaknesses and hence can strive for betterment. A regular feedback also ensures a better quality of work delivered. Feedback can come from direct supervisors, management, customers, audit of the job itself etc.

The three psychological states that affected by these task characteristics are:

–          Experiencing meaningfulness of work – employees experience meaningfulness of the work they are doing only when they feel that their work fits into the larger picture of organizational objectives and that they have the scope to employ their knowledge and skills effectively for executing their assigned tasks. Task variety, task identity and task significance are the factors that determine to what extent an employee is able to perceive his work as meaningful. For example, a task that is highly significant will have more meaning and value to its executor. Similarly, a job with no variety will seem meaningless to an employee by dint of its sheer repetitive and monotonous nature.

–          Feeling responsible for outcomes – holding oneself accountable for one’s performance will result only from autonomy granted for the job. If an employee knows that he is the one who will decide on the techniques and procedures of doing a job, scheduling of the job, making desired changes etc., then he will invariably bear the onus of the success or failure encountered at the job.

–          Knowledge of the actual results – this knowledge comes from the feedback given to an employee about his or her performance quality. Knowledge about the outcome enables one to rectify the problem areas or to tweak the way of doing a job so that better results can be achieved.

All these psychological states than an employee might experience shape up the various performance related outcomes. These outcomes can be work related motivation, job satisfaction, satisfaction about one’s professional growth, performance of superior quality, low absenteeism, absence of distracting factors at work, a higher level of employee engagement etc. When an employee feels his work to be meaningful and challenging as well as enriching in terms of knowledge and skills, his level of engagement, intensity of effort, motivation, satisfaction from the job etc. increases and he perceives the job as one that provides him with ample chances of professional growth. Similarly, the feeling of ownership of a job makes an employee more responsible and it can implicitly be concluded that the employee will strive to put forth a much superior performance or to walk an extra mile for the accomplishment of the job, will show a higher level of engagement, and will derive more satisfaction by doing the job since it’s done in his way. Knowledge about the actual result or outcome helps one to improve his or her performance, thereby leading to a growth in his or her career, heightens the motivation to stick to the job etc.

So, the Job Characteristics model discusses at length on the core job characteristics that ultimately become the determinants of the final work related outcomes that are desired by any and every organization.

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