The job characteristic model: everything you need to know

The job characteristic model: everything you need to know
Last Updated: May 18, 2023

In HRM, what is the Job Characteristics Model?

The Job Characteristics Model is a normative approach to job enrichment created by organizational psychologists J. Richard Hackman and Greg R. Oldham (see job redesign). In their book Work Redesign, Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham presented the ultimate form of the Job Characteristics Model in 1980. It identifies five key employment aspects that can contribute to significant psychological states in employees. The first three dimensions are (a) task variety (the range of activities completed), (b) task identity (the capacity to execute the work from beginning to end), and (c) task importance (the impact of the job on others). These three characteristics all contribute to the employee's sense of purpose at work; in other words, the greater the task variety, identity, and importance, the more meaningful the job is. The fourth employment dimension is autonomy (the degree to which individuals can make decisions and control their work).

Autonomy (the degree of discretion and flexibility an employee has over their tasks) is the fourth job dimension, and the more it is, the more the employee feels accountable for the work outcomes. The fifth component is feedback (the amount to which the work informs the employee about the efficiency of their performance), which allows the employee to recognize the results of their efforts. The JCM predicts that delivering pleasant psychological states will benefit both the individual employee and the business, including increased internal work motivation, high-quality performance, high job satisfaction, low absenteeism, and low labor turnover. The model is used to determine the motivating potential of specific jobs.


The model of Hackman and Oldham is broken into three components. These are the following:


  1. Characteristics of the Job
  2. Psychologically critical states and
  3. Personal and professional outcomes


Five dimensions of core work characteristics include task identity, task significance, skill variety, autonomy, and feedback. There are four components to critical psychological states. Finally, four things influence personal and professional outcomes.

If these factors come together favorably and according to organizational norms, the organization should meet its objectives. The model presented above is based on research. Some restrictions may limit the model's application due to the passage of time and changes in location.

The article examines meta-analytic research that has examined the model's validity and critiques the Job Characteristics Model.

The JOB CHARACTERISTICS MODEL (JCM) is a theory that claims that three psychological states of a jobholder (experience of meaningfulness of work performed, responsibility for work outcomes, and knowledge of the results of work performed) lead to improved work performance, internal work motivation, and lower absenteeism and turnover.

In contrast to job rotation or job enlargement, the Job Characteristic Model (JCM) is a method of job redesign that aims to formulate occupations to motivate workers and lead to positive outcomes. Also important is job enrichment which focuses on giving variety in employment tasks whilst opening new windows of opportunity. In five main areas, it believes, occupations should be examined and improved.


Psychological conditions that are critical

The following are the terms used to describe the three psychological states:

  1. Workplace meaningfulness: The extent to which employees believe their job is meaningful, useful, and worthwhile.
  2. Accountability: How accountable and responsible people feel for the outcomes of their labor.
  3. The degree to which employees are aware of and comprehend how well they function on the job.


Personal and professional outcomes:

Based on job features and psychological support, several forms of personal and work-related outcomes can be accomplished. The following are some of them:

  1. High internal motivation: Employees are more productive and like their work.
  2. High job satisfaction: They are content with their jobs when their demands are met.
  3. High-quality work.

As indicated in the image above, the model's major purpose is to generate occupations that lead to positive personal and professional outcomes.

The job characteristics theory was proposed by Hackman and Oldham (1976, 1980) to imply that five job qualities induce essential psychological states in the job holder, leading to a set of good work-related outcomes.

According to their job characteristics theory, three psychological states of a jobholder lead to enhanced work performance, internal motivation, and fewer absenteeism and turnover. A motivated, contented, and productive employee, according to this paradigm,

  • has a positive impression of the work done,
  • Has an awareness of the results of the work performed and
  • has accountability for the work outcomes.

Related: What are the six steps of job analysis and examples?

The three psychological states, according to Hackman and Oldham, are caused by five key job aspects.

The following are the five core dimensions that were identified:


1. A wide range of abilities

Variety of skills- The degree to which a job involves a variety of different activities that necessitate the use of a wide range of the job holders' skills and abilities. This is reflected by the degree to which a job involves various activities that necessitate the use of a wide range of the job holders' skills and abilities. A typical, repetitive assembly-line job, for example, has little diversity, whereas an applied research position that requires working on fresh challenges every day has a lot.


2.  Identifying the task

Identifying the job - The amount to which the job holder believes they are responsible for completing a complete and identifiable piece of work, that is taking part in the entire process with regards to the task. A chef who prepares a full meal, for example, has more task identity than a cafeteria worker who ladles mashed potatoes. Executing a job from start to finish with a visible output opens a new window.


3. Importance of the task

The importance of the task - The degree to which the job is viewed as essential and having a significant impact on the lives or work of others, whether inside the immediate company or in the external world, is addressed in this section. For example, people who provide penicillin and other medical supplies during times of need.


4. Independence

Autonomy - The degree to which the job gives extensive individual freedom, independence, and discretion in scheduling the work and selecting the procedures to be utilized in carrying it out opens a new window. A house painter, for example, has more control over how the house is painted than a paint sprayer on an assembly line. The house painter has a strong sense of personal responsibility that the paint sprayer on an assembly line.

5. Provide feedback

The amount to which doing the jobs critical work tasks provides information back to the job holder regarding the effectiveness of their effort opens a new window. Workers' ability to observe the results of their efforts varies by job. Job security can often be a by-product of feedback as employees feel the work they are doing is being seen and appreciated.

According to the job characteristics theory, the more of these five core job characteristics that can be designed into a job, the more motivated employees will be, and the greater the performance, quality, and satisfaction will be.

What is the JCM used for?

Oldham and Hackman wanted to alleviate the routine and boredom of working in a factory. Instead of improving and becoming more productive over time, they discovered that staff became bored and disengaged, and their performance suffered. Using the Job Characteristics Model has a lot of advantages. This model aids with the turnaround of jobs. You'll find numerous possibilities below:


1. Combining a wider range of jobs and responsibilities

The Job Characteristics Model assists employers in making occupations and tasks more enjoyable, diversified, and demanding for their employees. You can change jobs around and redefine them so that employees are forced to use more of their skills, and their work is less dull and repetitive.

2. Increasing decentralization

The job characteristics theory advocates for "decentralization." This entails assigning duties to the lowest organizational level possible while encouraging autonomy, self-reliance, and freedom of action.

3. Making it easier to assign assignments to groups and teams

The JCM provides an opportunity for your company to encourage better and more structured teamwork. It creates clearly defined teams that are solely focused on the task at hand. Collaboration and teamwork can put a sharper emphasis on the output that team members create. When employees can understand the big picture and how their job affects the organization, they become more engaged and dedicated.

4. Brainstorming

Sharing knowledge is a tremendous force for growth. The JCM is an excellent tool for encouraging employees to share their ideas and opinions.

5. Strengthening the relationship between employees and customers/end-users

You can assist bring staff and customers/end-users closer together by explicitly mapping job characteristics. Employees get to see how customers think. Employees get to see how customers and end-users rate their work, which provides them with helpful and valuable feedback. The feedback helps them improve their perception of their job.


6. Reducing the number of people who leave the company

Employees who are happy and intrinsically driven are less inclined to look for work elsewhere. You can prevent personnel turnover by effectively implementing the JCM.


How does the JCM motivate employees?

Many of us believe that money is an essential incentive at work. However, studies show that a different component, job design, has a significant impact on employee motivation. Employee motivation, job satisfaction, dedication to an organization, absenteeism, and turnover are all affected by how a job is designed.

Since the turn of the twentieth century, managers and researchers have been debating how to properly design jobs so that employees are more productive and contented. Starting with its early history, we shall examine essential approaches to work design.

Is it true that all five core characteristics are equally important to employees? According to Hackman and Oldhams model, the five characteristics have different effects. Instead, they presented the following formula (Hackman & Oldham, 1975) for calculating a job motivational potential:

Equation 6.1

MPS = ((Skill Variety + Task Identity + Task Significance) ÷ 3) × Autonomy × Feedback

When it comes to determining motivational potential, autonomy and feedback are more significant than skill diversity, task identity, or task significance, according to this formula. Also, take note of how the job qualities interact in this model. Regardless of degrees of diversity, identity, or significance, the motivating potential score will be very low if someone's job lacks complete autonomy or feedback.

The job characteristic model

Psychological States and the Job Characteristics Model

The job characteristics theory conceptual core is a set of three psychological states that act as a mediator between task qualities and outcomes.

The following are the three psychological states:

Experienced Meaningfulness

The degree to which the employee perceives the work to be inherent and meaningful. Three of the above-mentioned job traits characterize meaningfulness: Task importance, task identity, and skill variation.

Expertise in Taking Charge

The level of autonomy that the job affords and demands shapes the experienced sense of responsibility for outcomes.

Understanding of the Results

Within a corporation, feedback mechanisms build knowledge of results. It reveals how much direct and clear information is on the effectiveness of the task holders' performance. A visible outcome helps employees find more meaning in their work.

Work-related Achievements

The Job Characteristics Model concludes that when the five core job characteristics are present and the three psychological states are reached, the employee is likely to experience the following outcomes; The employee experiences the three psychological states:


Excellent employee performance comprises high-quality work and a significant volume of work. When an employee experiences the three psychological states, their productivity rises.

High levels of motivation

External sources of motivation, such as monetary incentives, might encourage an employee, but the most significant motivation comes from within. Intrinsic motivation is achieved by meaningful work.

High levels of satisfaction

An employee's level of contentment with their job is a simple definition of satisfaction. Hulim, C.L., & Judge, T.A. (2003) gave a more detailed definition of job satisfaction, describing it as a multi-dimensional psychological reaction to one's work. These responses can be cognitive, emotional, or behavioral.

Application of the Job Characteristics Theory

When you have a good understanding of the job characteristics model and the job characteristics theory behind it, you can start thinking about how you may use it at your workplace. The job characteristics model can be applied in the following ways:

1. Delegate responsibilities to the lowest possible level.

One way to implement the Job characteristics model in your organization is to delegate responsibilities to the lowest level possible. Delegating duties to the lowest level, even though it may appear paradoxical, can provide employees with a sense of autonomy and substantial freedom, especially if they aren't in positions of responsibility. This might make these employees feel more personally accountable for their work, which can boost their motivation and engagement.

2. Make a job more interesting by varying the tasks that must be completed.

Another approach to putting the JCM into practice is to change up the tasks in a job. This reflects the basic feature of skill diversity by allowing employees to execute a wide range of tasks that need a diverse set of skills. Make sure that jobs aren't too dull or consist of repetitive tasks, as this might lead to employee burnout and motivation issues. Employees may feel their work more fascinating and gratifying if the duties in their jobs are varied.

3. Assign work to groups

Assigning teamwork is another simple step you can take to implement the job characteristics model. By allowing employees to complete projects from start to finish and see real results from their labor, teamwork can help you apply the task identity characteristic of the JCM.

4. Conduct thorough performance evaluations

Completing employee performance assessments is another way to put the JCM into practice. Performance assessments are a technique to provide consistent feedback to your staff, and feedback is a basic job attribute in the model.

5. Encourage employees to switch occupations regularly

Encourage your employees to rotate jobs regularly as another step in implementing the JCM. This can improve employee satisfaction and engagement by keeping their activities and responsibilities fresh and allowing them to practice new abilities.

So, how can you put this concept to work for you? You can, however, change the look of your team members' existing jobs. You can even create new roles so that employees are more satisfied with their work and produce better results. You can accomplish the following in more detail:-


  • To boost skill variation and improve task identity, combine tasks.
  • Assign employees to larger, more important tasks so that they feel connected to and responsible for the outcomes.
  • Encourage individuals to realize how their efforts contribute to the departments, divisions, and organizations' overall success. Connect their objectives to the objectives of the organization.
  • To boost autonomy, increase team member engagement in decision-making and transfer more responsibility.
  • Increase the frequency and quality of feedback.
  • Allow your team members to see the results of their efforts
  • Customer, client, and other stakeholder input should be shared with your team members.
  • Provide opportunities for service providers to interact with service recipients.


The Job Characteristics Model is a tool that helps you understand how a person's motivation to execute a job is influenced by the core characteristics of that job. You can use the tool to design new positions that are both inspiring and rewarding or to make changes to a current role if an employee isn't performing to expectations or has low motivation. When redesigning a job, make sure to add value rather than merely adding more work for people to complete. So go ahead and try your hand at some designing and come up with some jobs that people will enjoy and do well.

This article was written by Trish Makiwa, a consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants. She can be contacted at 

Trish Makiwa
This article was written by Trish a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

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