Hackman and Oldham's Job Characteristics

Understanding the Basis of Job Enrichment

Hackman and Oldham's Job Characteristics

What job characteristics lead to this high level of satisfaction?

© iStockphoto/BeholdingEye

If you can provide satisfying work, then you're more likely to have happy and highly motivated workers. That's why it's so important to design work so that people's jobs are as satisfying as possible.

But how can you create this job satisfaction? That isn't quite so clear, and many ideas and theories have emerged over the years. J. Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham looked at many of these job motivation theories in 1976, and developed a key model of work design called the Job Characteristics Model. It has since become the basis for many job enrichment strategies.

The Background

Many motivational theorists believe that enriching people's work is key to developing a sense of motivation within them. They argue that this then translates into increased job satisfaction and productivity. Herzberg's Motivation-Hygiene Theory   started the push toward work redesign by describing a variety of motivating factors, such as recognition and promotion opportunities, that must be present in a job for it to be motivating.

These job enrichment   theories were supplemented with findings from people like Clayton Alderfer  . He found that motivating factors are very individualized. In other words, when designing motivating jobs, you must pay attention to individual needs.

The Job Characteristics Model

The Job Characteristics Model starts at this point. It suggests five core job dimensions that must be present to generate positive work outcomes. These then lead to three psychological states, and these states influence desirable work outcomes.

This is shown in figure 1, below:

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