Key Learning Outcomes

  • Recognise that a job needs to be structured so it motivates and engages an employee.
  • Learn about the five key job characteristics.
  • Identify employees’ three core psychological states: meaningfulness, responsibility and knowledge of results.
  • Adopt our job design strategies to enhance employee motivation.


Job design is about how to build a better job. It is not just about ensuring that the tasks get done as efficiently as possible, but also ensuring that you are designing a job that will promote motivation and engagement in your employee. It has been shown that improvements in employee engagement levels have a direct impact on a business’s productivity and profitability.

When looking at job design, there are a number of core job characteristics that increase job satisfaction and motivation. American researchers and scholars Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham developed their job characteristic model in 1980. The model outlines five core job characteristics that can lead to three critical psychological states. In turn, these can produce the positive outcomes of work motivation, satisfaction and work effectiveness. The five core job characteristics are as follows:

[wlm_ismember]These five characteristics affect employee motivation and satisfaction through three critical psychological states – experienced meaningfulness, experienced responsibility and knowledge of results.

By considering these key characteristics when designing a job, there is the ability to enhance levels of employee engagement, which directly impacts on the performance of the business. Before looking to employ a new person, think carefully when designing the job. Be clear about what you need the person to do; what skills and abilities they will need to have to do it; and look for ways to build some of these five key characteristics into the role.

Other job design strategies that can lead to an increase in employee motivation are set out below:

One way to achieve job enrichment is to combine interdependent tasks into one job, allowing the employee to have increased ownership over the whole process, product or service. An example is a journalist who no longer just reports the story, but also operates the camera and sound recording equipment. This makes them a video journalist responsible for the whole piece of work rather then just one component.

Another strategy to create job enrichment is to put employees in direct contact with clients. By having direct contact and responsibility for clients, employees can make better decisions that benefit clients and builds an increased level of significance into the role.

It is important to note that job design will not increase motivation in all employees and in all situations. If employees do not have sufficient skills and knowledge, adding additional tasks or autonomy may have the opposite effect, increasing stress levels and reducing performance and job satisfaction. Use the information in this article in conjunction with other articles in this section of the website on motivation and engagement to ensure you maximise your team’s performance.[/wlm_ismember]

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