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How to Design Jobs That Drive Motivation
How to Design Jobs That Drive Motivation
According to Crabtree (2013, para. 2), “the bulk of employees worldwide, i.e., 63% are not engaged, and 24% are actively disengaged, which translates into 900 million not engaged and 340 million actively disengaged workers” because of insufficient motivation. Some people may assume the most powerful motivators at work are external factors (e.g., health benefits package, salary, retirement package). Indeed, external motivators attract and drive an employee, but internal motives, per Crabtree’s report and Peng et al. (2015), maintain employee motivation, job satisfaction, and job commitment. Based on the cognitive dissonance theory, coined by Festinger (1957), individuals who have unfulfilled internal motives will experience a feeling of distress that may alter their attitude (i.e., cognition, emotion, and behavior) in the workplace (Maio &Haddock, 2015; McKimmie, 2015; Vandeveer & Menefee, 2010). Therefore, when an employee is displeased with the job, he/she may produce either one or both of the following reactions: passive or active, constructive or destructive (Vandeveer & Menefee, 2010). For example, a passive and constructive behavior is when an employee stays faithful to the organization, regardless of the low level of job satisfaction, opposed to an employee who acts passively and destructively. A passive and destructive behavior, the employee would neglect the job by doing the minimum. Finally, an employee who has an active but destructive behavior would leave the organization (Vandeveer & Menefee, 2010).
So, what could organizational leaders do to improve intrinsic motivation? Since job satisfaction is not easy to measure, organizational leaders could support and maintain intrinsic drives and the quality of work motivation by properly designing jobs that are engaging, satisfying, and promoting to workers’ psychological needs (Barrick, Mount, & Li, 2013; Maio & Haddock, 2015; Trépanier, Forest, Fernet, & Austin, 2015; Vandeveer & Menefee, 2010). Barrick et al. (2013) and Trépanier et al. (2015) both integrated the job characteristics model, advocated by Hackman and Oldham (1976), as one of the most instrumental components in designing jobs that increase intrinsic motivational properties (i.e., reward cues or incentive stimuli) (Jeffrey & Shaffer, 2007; Meyer, Cogan, & Robinson, 2014). The job characteristics model incorporates five core job dimensions (i.e., skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback) leading to three significant psychological states (i.e., meaningfulness, responsibility, and knowledge of results), which lead to work-related outcomes (increased satisfaction, increased performance, increased productivity, improved intrinsic motivation, and lower absenteeism) (Hackman & Oldham, 1976). The model identifies the conditions under which an employee will be intrinsically motivated to complete the job successfully. For example, if skill variety, task identity, and task significance dimensions are high, there is a strong possibility the employee will experience meaningfulness of his/her work, resulting in high intrinsic work-related motivation. Also, when the job provides a degree of autonomy or independence to the employee in determining task procedure, there will be an increase in dependability, resulting in growth satisfaction and job satisfaction. Finally, pivotal feedback from managers regarding an employee’s work performance will not only improve his/her job performance but boost his/her self-esteem, resulting in high work effectiveness.
Hackman and Oldham (1976) asserted the connection between the job characteristics and psychological states depends on the person’s growth needs. Likewise, the association between psychological states and work-related outcomes depends on the person’s growth needs (Hackman & Oldham, 1976). Peng et al. (2015) and Thory (2016) mentioned the psychological state “meaningfulness” is essential to the job designing process as well as influential on employees’ attitudes, behaviors, and organizational consequences. Besides, attitudes are critical factors that stimulate an employees’ actions. Although it is important for leaders to design jobs which strengthen an employee's psychological states, they should not overlook the five core dimensions that make up a job. Last, organizational leaders should understand changes to the job design may not motivate all employees, but may change their perceptions about the job.
Questions for Discussion:
- How can I/O psychologists design jobs that drive motivation?
- How are all five core job characteristics tangible features of a job?
Barrick, M. R., Mount, M. K., & Li, N. (2013). The theory of purposeful work behavior: The role of personality, higher-order goals, and job characteristics. Academy of Management Review, 38(1), 132-153. doi:10.5465/amr.2010.0479
Crabtree, S. (2013). Worldwide, 13% of employees are engaged at work. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/165269/worldwide-employees-engaged-work.aspx
Hackman, J. R, & Oldham, G. R. (1976). Motivation through design of work – Test of a theory. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 16, 250-279. doi:10.1016/0030-5073(76)90016-7
Jeffrey, S. A., & Shaffer, V. (2007). The motivational properties of tangible incentives. Compensation and Benefits Review, 39(3), 44-50. doi:10.1177/0886368707302528
Peng, A. C., Lin, H., Schaubroeck, J., McDonough, E. F., Hu, B., & Zhang, A. (2015). CEO intellectual stimulation and employee work meaningfulness. Group & Organization Management, 41(2), 203-231. doi:10.1177/1059601115592982
Maio, G., & Haddock, G. (2015). The Psychology of attitudes and attitude change (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
McKimmie, B. M. (2015). Cognitive dissonance in groups. Social & Personality Psychology Compass, 9(4), 202-212. doi:10.1111/spc3.12167
Meyer, P. J., Cogan, E. S., & Robinson, T. E. (2014). The form of a conditioned stimulus can influence the degree to which it acquires incentive motivational properties. PLoS One, 9(6), 1-11. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098163
Thory, K. (2016). Developing meaningfulness at work through emotional intelligence training. International Journal of Training & Development, 20(1), 58-77. doi:10.1111/ijtd.12069
Trépanier, S., Forest, J., Fernet, C., & Austin, S. (2015). On the psychological and motivational processes linking job characteristics to employee functioning: Insights from self-determination theory. Work & Stress, 29(3), 286-305. doi:10.1080/02678373.2015.1074957
Vandeveer, R. C., & Menefee, M. L. (2010). Human behavior in organizations (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.