job characteristics model

Employee productivity and morale are critical to a company’s success. You can use the job characteristics model to help employees or colleagues increase their productivity and job satisfaction if you work in human resources, management, or a related sector. Understanding the stages and tactics involved in putting the job characteristics model into action can help you apply it more effectively and maximize employee performance at work.
In this post, we will define the job characteristics model, describe the model’s fundamental characteristics, and explore how to apply the model in the workplace.

What is the Job Characteristics Model?

The job characteristics model (JCM) is a hypothesis based on five basic job characteristics that individuals must have in order to excel at their employment. Originally established by Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham in their book “Work Redesign,” the JCM suggests that employees’ motivation declines in occupations that they feel uninteresting or non-stimulating, but flourishes in positions that they find difficult and exciting.

The job characteristics model can assist managers and human resource professionals in improving their workplace environments for their coworkers or employees. They can use the JCM to assist their employees in personalizing and engaging their employees, which can promote employee morale, increase productivity, and improve employee quality of work.

What Does the Job Characteristics Model Serve?

Oldham and Hackman wanted to lessen the boredom and routine that comes with working in a factory. Instead of being better and more productive over time, they discovered that staff became bored and disengaged, and their performance suffered as a result. This model aids with the turnaround of jobs.

The job characteristics model can assist an HR professional in evaluating a job and improving or making it more interesting. Managers can collaborate with their employees to improve the situation for everyone, thereby enhancing engagement and productivity.

When there is a lot of work to be done, organizations recruit new employees but neglect to do a job appraisal and create a position. You can sit down and construct a more effective job using Hackman and Oldham’s job characteristics model.

The job characteristics model can help organizations in the following ways:

#1. It aids in the development of job design strategies.

Unless your company is run by a single person, you have several people with various responsibilities. The tasks allocated to each job may differ from one another. With the job characteristics model, you examine all of the functions and create various occupations based on them.

For example, you can implement job rotation to provide some variety in everyone’s day. Alternatively, you can work to simplify some jobs, particularly those that are time-consuming. You will identify certain areas to expand and make more vital, as well as where employee enrichment should be included.

Because the job characteristics model acknowledges that it is not just about working today, but also about establishing jobs for the future, employee enrichment is an important component of this model.

#2. It boosts job satisfaction.

When Human Resources and management collaborate with the job characteristics model, each job is designed to improve job satisfaction. While it is hard to eliminate all tedious or monotonous work, this model can help to mitigate those issues.

Your busy law firm, for example, may have enough work for one employee to spend the entire day filing–a monotonous and uninteresting job. You may divide the task so that four individuals spend two hours per day filing and the remaining six undertake more fascinating things. As a result, job satisfaction and performance improve.

#3. It allows for job advancement.

This level focuses on taking a typical job and adding extra responsibilities and assignments to improve it. Instead of making things as simple as possible, job enrichment makes them more motivating. Job enrichment can give a job meaning. While the job characteristics model dates back to the 1970s, it is still highly relevant today. Job enrichment can provide meaningful employment that younger workers place a high value on.

#4. Improves task delegation

To improve jobs, the job characteristics model employs job design. Jobs are divided into particular tasks, and personnel are given permission to complete those duties. Employees have more influence over their work environment, which promotes job satisfaction.

#5. It makes organizational information easy to understand.

It is easier to run an organization when everyone’s job description is the product of a thorough job analysis with specific tasks and responsibilities. You can see who is in charge of which tasks. It can help with general organizational design.

#6. It enables uncomplicated performance evaluations and goal setting.

Setting goals and evaluating employee performance becomes more manageable in an organization that follows the job characteristics model because each job is structured rather than thrown together.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of the Job Characteristics Model

This section will explain the pros and downsides of the job characteristics model:

The Benefits:

  • The main rationale for employing the job characteristics model is that it provides HR professionals with a clear template for designing jobs using the five key components.
  • The job characteristics model also assists HR departments in designing employee training programs and selecting the best candidates for specific roles.
  • This model is also an excellent tool for developing job strategy.
  • Job satisfaction has increased. According to a Gallup research, 21% of organizations saw increased profitability when their employees were more engaged.
  • Jobs are enhanced, which implies that employees like their jobs more and are more driven to complete their daily tasks.
  • Because jobs are separated into simple categories, delegating specific tasks becomes easy.
  • The job characteristics model also makes it easier to understand who does what.
  • Because you know the particular criteria involved in a job, it is easy to evaluate these factors and issue performance appraisals to personnel.


  • The job characteristics model has a significant disadvantage in that it is out of date. The theory dates back to the 1970s. The world in which we now work has altered dramatically. These designs were intended for jobs with defined duties within organizations.
  • Employees are now expected to do multiple functions.
  • Another evident disadvantage of the job characteristics model is that each condition must be met in order for it to function properly. In rare situations, employees may lack the necessary mental qualities, abilities, or even education to carry out the job function.
  • Forcing richer jobs on employees who lack the necessary skills would demotivate and irritate them, which is the opposite of the desired result.

The Importance of the Job Characteristics Model

Efforts to design work began in the early 1960s. The prevalent belief at the time was that simplifying tasks would lead to increased productivity. The contrary was discovered through research. The more repetitive and tedious the everyday job role, the lower the employee motivation and the lower the productivity. This was just due to staff discontent.

One of the first attempts towards enriching occupations was the job characteristics model. There have been previous initiatives that have had some success. The current theory proposed by Greg Oldham and J. Richard Hackman is inspired by Turner, Lawrence, and Hackman’s previous work.
Despite the fact that it was founded in 1975, it is still regarded as one of the most influential attempts to design occupations that encourage employees.

The final version of the theory was released in 1980, with new additions such as moderators, knowledge and skill, and context satisfaction. The final hypothesis also discounted job outcomes, absenteeism, and turnover in favor of a greater emphasis on internal work motivation.

Job Characteristics Model Components

Now that we have covered the history and significance of the job characteristics model, let us look at the five components:

  •  Skill variety
  • Task identity
  • Task significance
  • AutonomyFeedback

#1. Skill Variety

This component of the job characteristics model helps describe the extent to which distinct activities are required by a job. In other words, it defines the need for a worker to develop a wide range of abilities.

Employees find occupations more meaningful when they must use a variety of talents and abilities to carry out their responsibilities. Jobs that are excessively repetitive and require only one or no specific talent are the polar opposite.

An assembly line worker responsible for packaging finished items in carton boxes just has to know how to fold boxes and pack the goods neatly. The assembly line manager, on the other hand, must be familiar with all of the processes, comprehend the machinery, identify problems with the assembly line, control output levels, and manage staff.

If we assume that the pay for both of these jobs is identical, the assembly line manager is more likely to be motivated and content with their job.

#2. Task Identification

This job characteristics model component refers to the extent to which the employee’s function delivers a visible result. Employees are more satisfied when they can see the fruits of their labor.
Before the watch is shipped out, the person who assembles it holds a finished product in his hand. They witness the end result of their work. An employee whose job it is to stamp out and polish cogs for that watch, on the other hand, may never have the pleasure of putting the watch together and enjoying its ultimate form.

#3. Task Significance

This is very crucial. Employees who work every day need to believe that they are important and that their efforts make the world a better place. That is the definition of task significance. If your activities directly improve people’s lives, you are likely to feel considerably more gratified for your efforts. In essence, the issue is, “Does my job matter?”

First responders provide excellent examples. When police officers, firefighters, nurses, and others understand that the things they undertake on a daily basis save lives, they are filled with delight. This is a fantastic reward in and of itself.

#4. Autonomy

Every human being wishes for freedom. This component of the job characteristics model is concerned with how much freedom an employee has in carrying out their duties. those that allow individuals to think for themselves, and organize their schedules, and work methods provide far more autonomy than those that provide particular tasks to employees.

Greater autonomy is closely related to a greater sense of responsibility and ownership.
An artist is free to paint whatever comes to mind. They are not limited by geography, mathematics, physics, or even human limitations. They are free to experiment and express themselves in previously inconceivable ways.

If you took that artist and forced them to paint ten-inch tiles with only one hue, they would no doubt be extremely frustrated.

#5. Feedback

This component of the job characteristics model is concerned with how much an employee is aware of the outcomes of their efforts. Defining their tasks, providing them with specific information they can utilize, and informing them of the effectiveness of their efforts in reaching the desired objective helps them understand why they do what they do.
Performance feedback is an excellent technique to ensure that staff understand what they are doing and where they may improve.

The Job Characteristics Model Theory Equation

Job Characteristics Theory develops an equation that shows the possibility for a specific job to be inspiring by integrating all of these basic job characteristics. NB: MPS stands for Motivating Potential Score.

Job Characteristics Model Equation

This equation leads us to the conclusion that feedback and autonomy are more important to motivation than skill variation, task identity, or task significance.
This equation is attempting to indicate, in essence, that the only way for an employee to experience all three psychological states is for the job to score highly on each of the five fundamental job characteristics.

Job Characteristics Model Moderators

As you are surely aware, just creating a role that is high on all five key job characteristics does not guarantee that every employee who is assigned to that role will experience all three psychological states.

Why is this the case? Because we are human, and we are not all wired the same way. This is where moderators enter our theory. To experience the three psychological states, all three moderators must score highly, in addition to the five essential job characteristics being present.
Let us take a look at each of the moderators individually.

#1. Knowledge and ability

According to the knowledge and skills moderator, if an individual has knowledge, skill, and competence in their profession, they are more likely to have positive feelings (the three psychological states) toward their job, and their performance will improve.
Conversely, if people believe they lack the knowledge or skill to appropriately perform the task, they will not experience the three psychological states and will become demotivated.

#2. Growth requires strength

The degree to which an employee desires to grow and develop is referred to as growth need strength. An employee with a high growth need strength is far more likely to react positively to new possibilities and challenges, and thus to experience the three psychological states.
An employee with low growth needs, on the other hand, will react negatively to new chances and is less likely to experience the three psychological states.

#3. “Context” Contentment

Context refers to things like the employee’s manager, coworkers, pay and perks, and job stability. When an employee is content with these contextual elements, they are more likely to respond positively to their role’s challenges and experience the three emotional states.


Finally, according to the Job Characteristics Model, if the five core job characteristics are present and the three psychological states are attained, the following results are likely to be obtained for an employee.

  • High Internal Work Motivation: When an employee feels all three psychological states, they are likely to be intrinsically motivated. More information on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation may be found here.
  • High Growth Satisfaction: When a person experiences the three psychological states, they are more likely to feel challenged and learn on the job. They will believe that this task is rewarding and does not stretch them to an uncomfortable level. They will also feel encouraged.
  • High General Job Satisfaction: Employees who experience the three psychological states are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs.
  • High Work Effectiveness: This is divided into two components. To begin, experiencing the three psychological states will result in people producing high-quality work. Second, it will result in a large amount of effort.

The Job Characteristics Model in Action

Now that you understand Job Characteristics Theory, you may use the model in one of two ways:

  • To create new roles.
  • To redesign when an employee’s contentment or productivity is low.

When attempting to adopt the Job Characteristics Model, some popular ways to explore include:

#1. Reduce the number of tasks as much as feasible.

By pushing duties as far down the organization as feasible, you generate task autonomy, which leads to a sense of responsibility for the individual.

#2. Diversify the responsibilities you have been allocated.

Giving an employee a variety of duties to complete will keep their job exciting and varied because it will need a variety of talents. You will also help the employee comprehend how their effort contributes to the larger picture (has an impact).

For example, if a mechanic is only responsible for fixing automobile tires, they may be unaware of the consequences of their actions. If they are assigned the job of addressing all difficulties with the customer’s automobile and returning the keys, they will likely feel more autonomy and accountability, as well as a better awareness of the impact of their work.

#3. Assign tasks to groups.

Consider delegating larger tasks to a group of employees to develop, as said above, an awareness of the entire product and its impact on the organization. It will also result in improved teamwork.

#4. Employees should interact with customers.

When we connect employees to customers, like in our mechanic example above, we assist employees understand the impact of their work while also encouraging accountability and demonstrating to employees how the whole works together.


The JCM is a well-known and helpful model that allows experts to think about how to best design jobs. Although the JCM has some shortcomings, the majority of the framework’s features are validated by empirical evidence. Professionals can use components of the JCM to assist them think about how to best design jobs.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like