Hackman and Oldham Job Characteristics Model | Skill Variety | Task Identity| Task Significance| Autonomy | Feedback
Hackman and Oldham Job Characteristics Model
The Job Characteristics Theory Model (JCT) was first designed by organizational psychologists J. Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham in 1975 and later expanded the theory in 1980. The theory has its roots in Frederick Hertzberg’s Two-factor Theory of motivation. It has been widely used as a framework to study how particular job characteristics affect job outcomes, including job satisfaction.
Hackman and Oldham’s Job Characteristics Theory Model is based on the idea that a task in itself is the key to the employee’s motivation. It correlates a job or task’s characteristics with the individual’s responses and satisfaction level carrying out the work.
Hackman and Oldham’s theory focuses on identifying what job conditions motivate individual employees. They do not believe it is possible to create motivation if the job is monotonous and boring for the individual employees.
The Job Characteristics Theory Model (JCM) examines various aspects that determine whether a job or task is fulfilling and meaningful and addresses the question from the perspective of both the organization and the individual employee.
The theory comprises five core job characteristics:
- Skill variety
- Task identity
- Task significance
- Feedback from the job.
Core job characteristics are the starting point of the theory. The theory is based on the assumption that motivation can be based solely on how the job is structured for the individual employees.
Hackman and Oldham believed the following five factors determine whether a job is motivational;
Skill Variety Job Characteristics Model
Skill variety refers to the degree to which a job requires a variety of different activities and involves the use of several different skills and talents by the employees.
Employees see jobs that are high-end skill variety as challenging and give employees a greater sense of competence.
Skill Variety example;
Assistant with high skill variety may have to perform many different tasks, such as travel arrangements, schedule meetings, prepare power points for speeches, prepare agendas for meetings, write reports, participate in meetings, etcetera.
Task Identity Job Characteristics Model
Task identity refers to the degree to which a job requires completion of a whole identifiable piece of work. The employee performs the entire job from start to finish with a visible outcome.
Task Identity Example
A Cabinet maker will have a high task identity if he does everything related to making all the furniture for a new dining room.
It involves speaking with the customer, drawing drafts for the customer, selecting the materials, producing handmade furniture, and maybe making alterations at the customer’s request.
Task Significance Job Characteristics Model
Task significance refers to the degree to which the job has a substantial impact on other people’s lives. Employees must believe they are doing something important in their organization or society or both.
Task Significance Example:
A surgeon’s job is important to society, and they understand the importance of their work to society.
Autonomy in the Workplace
Autonomy refers to the degree to which the job provides substantial freedom and independence to the individual in scheduling the work and did in determining the procedures to be used in doing the work. It is considered fundamental in building a sense of responsibility in employees.
Autonomy in the Workplace Examples
A salesperson is considered highly autonomous when he schedules his own workday and decides on each customer’s most effective approach without supervision.
Feedback in the Workplace
Feedback from the job is the degree to which the individual is informed about his performance effectiveness. Feedback can come directly from the job itself or provided by management or other employees.
Feedback in the Workplace Examples
A salesperson receives information directly from the customers through the monetary value of his sales. Management should also give feedback about his performance.
Critical Psychological States
The theory states that these core job characteristics have important effects on the individual employees’ critical psychological state, also known as the employees’ motivation condition.
There are three psychological states, namely;
- Experienced Meaningfulness of Work.
- Experienced Responsibility for Work Outcomes
- Knowledge of The Actual Results of The Work Activities
Experienced Meaningfulness of Work.
The employee gets this experience, the greater the demands are on his various skills, the easier he identifies the task and when the task is of high importance to those around him or society.
The experience of meaningful work relates directly to the first three factors in core job characteristics.
Skill variety, task identity, and task significance contribute to an employee’s ability to experience the work’s meaningfulness.
Experienced Responsibility for Work Outcomes
The employee experiences his responsibility for his own work when he is given the freedom to perform the task his way.
The experience of responsibility for the work outcomes relates directly to the fourth factor in core job characteristics. Jobs that provide a great deal of autonomy are said to contribute to an employee’s experience of the responsibility for outcomes of the work.
Knowledge of the Actual Results
The employee can only get knowledge from the results of his work by gathering information. Knowledge of the work activities’ actual results relates directly to the fifth factor in core job characteristics.
Job feedback is said to give an employee knowledge of the actual results of the work activities.
Important Work-Related Outcomes
The Job Characteristics model indicates that three critical psychological states affect various personal and work outcomes.
The model identifies four work-related conditions that are affected by the three critical psychological states.
The higher the experienced meaningfulness of work experience, responsibility for work outcomes, and the knowledge of the work activities’ actual results, the more positive the four personal and work-related outcomes will be.
Internal Work Motivation
The first of the four conditions are internal work motivation? This is high when the employee feels that the work is so important and challenging that he can motivate himself.
Satisfaction with Work.
This is high when the employee feels comfortable in the workplace in relation to management and other employees.
Absenteeism and Employee Turnover.
These two factors are low when employees are very satisfied with their work and the workplace as a whole. No one calls in sick, and no one wants a new job.
Quality Work Performance.
This is high when the employee is constantly trying to improve his efforts towards delivering flawless tasks.
The theory describes a cause-effect chain from job characteristics through the psychological states to effects on employees, attitudes, and behavior. In short, the theory shows that by creating the right job for the employees, the management achieves highly motivated employees.
Changing an existing job in a positive direction is called job enrichment.
Job Characteristics Model Application
Does the model apply to every employee?
Although many employees desire the additional challenge and responsibility associated with performing enrich jobs, others may not.
In 1980 Hackman and Oldham recognized that not every employee wants a job containing high levels of the five core job characteristics.
Hackman and Oldham incorporated this conclusion into the model. They identified three moderators that affect how employees respond to job enrichment.
Job Characteristics Model Moderators
There are three moderators, namely;
Employee growth Needs strength.
Employee growth Needs strength refers to the degree to which an individual desires the opportunity for self-direction, learning, and personal accomplishment at work.
This concept is essentially the same as Fredericks, Hertzberg’s motivation factors, and Abraham Maslow’s esteem & self-actualization needs.
Knowledge and skills (Capabilities).
Employees whose capabilities fit enriched job demands are predicted to feel good about the job and perform well.
Those who are inadequate or feel inadequate in this regard are likely to experience frustration, stress, and job dissatisfaction.
Context Satisfaction refers to the degree to which employees are satisfied with various aspects of their job, such a salary, quality of supervision, relationship with supervisors and coworkers, and working conditions.
Contextual satisfaction is similar to Hertzberg’s hygiene factors.
These three moderators impact the relationship between core job characteristics, critical psychological states, and ultimately personal and work outcomes.
Therefore, leaders should consider the moderators when attempting to enrich jobs. The big question a leader has to ask himself is; can and will the employee perform an enriched job?.
Job Characteristics Model Example
An example is a paramedic who works on an ambulance in a big city.
Variety in Skills
No day is the same. There is variation in the work process and thereby the demands for different skills.
The task identity is clear. The employee completes a whole piece of work. The patient is picked up on delivered to the hospital.
The task is of great significance to the individual being helped, and the paramedic is aware of this. There is a clear sense of the meaningfulness of the work.
In a car crash with several injured persons, the paramedic must autonomously evaluate the situation and decide whom to rescue first and how. A paramedic experience is a great sense of responsibility.
There is direct feedback on the job from the patient, the patient’s relatives, and the hospital. This feedback gives the paramedic an instant knowledge about the results of the work activities.
If five factors in core job characteristics motivate the paramedic, then the three critical psychological states are fulfilled. If this is correct, you will see this in the following n work-related conditions.
He is driven by professional pride, and he comes to work every day with a mission to do a better job than yesterday.
- If management doesn’t get these reactions, they have to look at the moderators.
- Does the paramedic want to achieve personal accomplishment at work?
- Do his capabilities fit the demands?
- Is he satisfied with the various aspects of the job such a salary, quality of supervision, relationship with supervisors and coworkers and working conditions,
Benefits of the Job Characteristics Model
- Hackman and Oldham’s Job Characteristics Model was well-received because of the fact that their findings were very clear and could be easily applied in the workplace. The five characteristics could be used as a checklist for job creation or job review.
- It is widely used as a framework to study how job outcomes, including job satisfaction, are affected by particular job characteristics.
- The job characteristics model helps make the jobs at any organization more varied, challenging, and motivating. An engaged employee is happier and more productive; however, many HR practitioners and managers struggle to keep employees happy and engaged. That is why the Job Characteristics Model can be applied.
- Another key function of the job characteristic model is to explain how different organizational activities employees perform affect their work, attitudes, and behavior and to identify the conditions under which these effects are likely to be strongest.
- Job Characteristics Model helps an organization improve employee performance and job satisfaction by means of adjusting the job itself. The theory states that if the organization does this successfully, then it creates the conditions for an employee to thrive in their work. In other words, the task design plays a significant role in employee motivation, performance, and satisfaction.
What are the Pros and Cons of the Job Characteristics Model?
- Some of the criticism of the Job Characteristics Model is actually taken into account in the moderators. The model recognizes that employees have different needs and that not all employees want to fulfill their work needs.
- It isn’t easy to know exactly what motivates the individual employees. This requires an individual treatment of employees. This is a very time-consuming process.
- It isn’t easy to transfer the model to a team or group of employees.
- The other limitation/disadvantage of the Job Characteristics Model is that the framework was developed in the 1980s when job design was well aligned with fixed roles within the company. However, the workplace has changed tremendously since then, and there is now an emphasis on core competencies that are applicable across a wide range of settings and jobs.
- It must be mentioned that the model provides a solid overview of the motivation of employees through job enrichment.