Decades of rewards or the avoidance of unwanted

Topic: BusinessLeadership
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Last updated: August 21, 2019

Decadesof job specialisation during the 20th century which aimed tomaximise efficiency actually resulted in unsatisfied employees who were likelyto leave their jobs or be absent, and who were challenging to manage (Hackman& Lawler, 1971).

This realisation resulted in a number of job design modelswhich had at their core the understanding that jobs which trigger intrinsicmotivation, through characteristics such as autonomy and variety, are morelikely to improve vital outcomes for both the individuals and theirorganisations (e.g. Fried & Ferris, 1987; Hackman & Lawler, 1971).

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Theexpectancy theory of motivation (Vroom, 1964) constitutes the basis of motivationalmodels. The basis of this theory is that motivating employees to perform on thebasis that they feel good when they do, and bad when they do not, was a muchmore effective motivational technique than the promise of rewards or theavoidance of unwanted attention, and thus job design models began consideringhow to encourage intrinsic motivation. This idea is supported by much research,as indicated by a meta-analysis of 259 studies, which found that motivationalcharacteristics explained 25% of the variance in subjective performance and 24%in job satisfaction and organisational commitment (Humphrey, Nahrgang &Morgeson, 2007). Research suggests that this is due to humans constantlyseeking meaning in all aspects of their lives, including at work (Ryan &Deci, 2001), as one experiences high well-being and happiness when perceivingone’s own life as meaningful (King & Napa, 1998; Zika & Chamberlin,1992).

Twomodels which both take a motivational approach to job design will be consideredin this essay. These are the Job Characteristics Model (JCM; Hackman , 1976) and the Job Demands-Resources Model (JD-R; Bakker , 2007). The JCA model identifies five core characteristics whichHackman and Oldham state should be considered during job design in order toincrease employee motivation, and thus enhance the positive outcomes. Thesecharacteristics are skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy,and feedback received. The relationship between these characteristics and thedesired positive outcomes is mediated by three factors; meaningfulness of work,responsibility for work outcomes, and knowledge of the results. Therelationship is also moderated by three factors; growth-need strength,knowledge and skill, and context satisfaction. Sinceits conception in 1976, the JCM has had a growing body of research supportingits claims that the five identified work characteristics are strongly relatedto job satisfaction and internal work motivation, and also have weakerrelationships with performance and absenteeism, as confirmed by a meta-analysis(Fried & Ferris, 1987).

Despite this, and the influence the model has had,as indicated by the fact that the model and its measures had been cited nearly2000 times by researchers as of 2006 (ISI Web of Knowledge, 2006), the modelhas encountered much criticism. For example, research has been unable toconfirm the mutual exclusiveness of the five characteristics, and norelationship has been successfully identified between the outcomes, suggestingthat they do not result from the same job characteristics (Parker & Wall,1998). Furthermore, the majority of the supporting evidence is cross-sectional(Parker & Wall, 1998), thus not allowing for causal inferences to be made.TheJD-R model is similar to the JCM model in that it operates on the presumptionthat increasing motivation will have positive outcomes for employees. The keyassumption which differentiates this model however, is the notion that everyjob has risks which are specific to that role and can be classified in twocategories of ‘job demands’ and ‘job resources’, and these are both associatedwith stress (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). Job demands are physical,psychological, social, or organisational features which are performed andentail the use of psychological and/or physical resources. While job resourceshave the same sources, they are necessary to achieve goals or encourage growththrough learning (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007).

Atthe core of the JD-R model are two psychological processes which relate tostrain and motivation. The first of these is the idea that employees willexperience exhaustion, and therefore health problems, when their jobs areineffectively designed with high demands (Demerouti et al, 2000, 2001; Leiter,1993). Second is the premise that high engagement and high performance resultsfrom good job resources improving both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation inemployees. Therefore, good resources can buffer against job demands, asillustrated by evidence that social support is a buffer against job strain(e.g.

Haines et al., 1991; Johnson & Hall, 1988). Anumber of studies have supported the propositions of the JD-R model and the endorganisational outcomes. For example, many studies have indicated that jobdemands and resources constitute two separate psychological processes whichimpact organisational outcomes (e.g. Bakker et al., 2003; Schaufeli , 2004). Furthermore, Bakker et al.

(2005) researched whether theassociation between job demands and well-being was in fact buffered byavailability of job resources with a sample of 1000 employees at a highereducation institute. The research indicated that a combination of high demandsand low resources predicts burnout, however if resources are high then the highdemands were significantly less likely to result in burnout. The same has beendemonstrated in other high demand jobs, such as with a sample of dentists inFinland (Hakanen et al.

, 2005). Further research into this effect could examinethe potential effect of personal resources on the relationship between jobdemands and resources, and organisational outcomes. The use of more objectivemeasures for outcomes could also benefit the evidence base for this model. Althoughthe evidence previously discussed provides support for many aspects of the JCMand JD-R model, the evidence did not consider two factors which must bedeliberated when discussing job design, and these are the mental and physicalhealth of employees. However, both these models do have bodies of evidence regardingthe health implications of job design. For example, research has found that theJCM characteristics of feedback and autonomy both correlate with emotionalexhaustion, depersonalisation and personal accomplishments, which are the threecomponents which constitute burnout (Maslach & Jackson, 1981; Jackson etal., 1986).

Moreover,research suggests that context-free mental health, which is a global constructuntied to a particular setting or context (Warr, 1987), is an outcome of jobcharacteristics (Kelloway & Barling, 1991). The largest predictor of context-freemental health is emotional exhaustion, which is in line with previous research thatidentified a strong correlation between emotional exhaustion and depression(Meier, 1984). However, this research ignored three of the five jobcharacteristics, and therefore cannot support every aspect of the JCM.Researchhas also been conducted regarding the JD-R model. For example, Holman, Axtell,Sprigg, Totterdell and Wall (2010) provided support for the model as changes inboth resources and demands were associated with changes in well-being. Thissupports previous research where high demands negatively affected well-being(Hockey, 1997; Lee & Ashforth, 1996), while high resources positivelyaffected well-being (Jackson, 1983; Karasek & Theorell, 1990). However,this research did not incorporate random allocation of employees to groups, sodifferences that occurred could be due to selection effects. Furthermore,there has been extensive research regarding the effect of control on healthoutcomes of employees, which relates directly to both the discussed models.

Forexample, predictions of coronary heart disease in a sample of civil servants inLondon could be predicted by low job control (Bosma, Marmot, Memingway,Nicholson, Brunner & Stansfel, 1997). Also, Jimmieson and Terry (1999)conducted a literature review of the research in the field and identifiedrecurring evidence that stress-related outcomes, such as anxiety, psychologicaldistress, burnout, irritability, psychosomatic health and alcohol consumptionwere all related to low levels of job control. Following from this review, Bondand Bunce (2001) conducted what was potentially the first longitudinalquasi-experiment in the field, and identified that increased job control viawork reorganisation interventions resulted in improved mental health, reducedabsence, and higher self-rated performance. This study expands on previousresearch findings that job redesign, which increases control, improvespsychological well-being (Wall, Corbett, Martin, Clegg & Jackson, 1990). However,while there is some evidence supporting the health benefits of job demands inline with the discussed models, much research in this area does not include acontrol group, nor an extended follow-up period (e.

g. Cordery, Mueller , 1991; Murphy & Hurrell, 1987). Furthermore, the majority of theresearch conducted used cross-sectional designs, which make it impossible todraw causal inferences, so without more quasi-experimentally designed researchit will be impossible to make strong claims regarding the effectiveness of jobredesign interventions (Semmer, 2003). Additionally, it is vital that furtherresearch is conducted outside of the very specific construct of job control.Until there is a sufficient body of research considering all the aspects ofjob-design models, the practical implications of utilising the models cannot befully understood. This research must also be constructed to measure themediation path of every job characteristic independently in order to gain anunderstanding of how each feature works both independently and when interactingwith one another (Preacher & Hayes, 2008).

Measuring these aspects withmore positive measures of mental health (Warr, 1987, 1990) could also help toprovide a more complete view of the impact of job design models. Inconclusion, a vast amount of research has been conducted regarding manyjob-design theories, especially the ones which take a motivational approach.However, the literature attempting to confirm the validity of the models is notnear completion, nor is the research attempting to measure the healthimplications of job design in line with these models. Until a focus is placedon longitudinal research which incorporates random allocation of participantsbetween an experimental and control condition covering a broader range of jobcharacteristics, we will be unable to suggest that the models discussed above,and the health implications they have, are valid and reliable.              References Bakkar, A.

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