Job Characteristics Model (JCM): What You Need To Know

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In this article, we explore its purpose, Job Characteristics Theory, and critical components of the JCM model.

What is the job characteristics model?

The Job Characteristics Model (JCM) is a work design theory that seeks to identify the key factors that make a job motivating, satisfying, and engaging for employees. The model was developed by Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham in 1976 and has since become a widely used framework for job analysis and job design research.

The JCM proposes that five core job characteristics contribute to an employee's meaningful work experience and job satisfaction. These five core job distinguishing features are:

The JCM suggests that high jobs with these characteristics tend to be more motivating, satisfying, and engaging for employees, leading to higher performance and lower employee turnover rates. Organizations have widely used the model to design more meaningful and fulfilling employee jobs.


What is the goal of the job characteristics model?

Hackman and Oldham were trying to cut down on factory boredom and monotony. The workers weren't getting better or more productive as time passed, and their performance plummeted because of boredom and disengagement. It helps turn around jobs.

An HR professional can use a job characteristics model to make a job better and more engaging. Working together will improve the working environment for everyone, leading to more engagement, higher job satisfaction, and productivity.

Often, jobs "happen." Because there is much work, companies hire new employees without evaluating their skills or creating a position. You can design a more effective job by using Hackman and Oldham's job characteristics model.

The job characteristics model can be used to help organizations in the following ways:

It helps to design job strategies

A business usually comprises multiple people who play various roles unless it is a sole practitioner. Positions can have different tasks assigned to them. Job characteristics involve examining all functions and developing multiple jobs based on them.

Useful Read: Efficient Work Organization: Boost Productivity Anywhere

Job rotation, for example, gives everyone a chance to have a little variety in their day. It's also possible to simplify some tedious tasks. Several areas must be expanded and made more critical, and employee enrichment will be significant. It's not just about developing jobs for today but also enriching jobs for tomorrow, so employee enrichment is a key component of the job characteristics model.

Enhances job satisfaction

A job characteristics model combined with human resources and management allows each position to be designed so that employees are more satisfied with their jobs. This model can reduce the boredom and monotony of mundane tasks, although it is impossible to eliminate them.

If your law firm is busy, one person may have to spend all day filing, which is tedious. Those tasks could be divided among four people filing for two hours daily while six others worked on more exciting, interesting jobs. The result is a higher level of job satisfaction and performance.

Ensures job enrichment

The goal is to take a regular job and make it better by adding extra tasks and assignments. Focusing on job enrichment is more motivating than making things easier. Job enrichment can make your job more fulfilling. Despite being from the 1970s, the job characteristics model still applies today. Work enrichment can give them meaningful work, which is vital to them. 

Better tasks delegation

A job characteristics model makes jobs better by using job design. It is common for jobs to be divided into specific tasks, and employees can carry them out independently. In turn, employees feel more satisfied with their jobs when autonomous, giving them a sense of control over their work environment.

Clear organizational information

Managing the organization becomes easier when everyone's job description results from a thorough job analysis with clear duties and responsibilities. It is easy to see which duties each person is responsible for. It can simplify the organizational design in general. 

Setting goals and appraisals is straightforward.

Using the job characteristics model, an organization can set more manageable goals and evaluate employee performance than when each job is assigned separately.

The Job Characteristics Theory

In 1976, Hackman and Oldham wrote "Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, Vol. 2", which introduced the job characteristics theory (JCT). 16, Issue 2". This theory says, "job design affects motivation, performance, and job satisfaction." It has helped managers determine how specific core job dimensions and characteristics affect the job's positive outcomes.

It also examines the top five job characteristics as determinants of job satisfaction for an organization and the individual doing the job. The relationship between job characteristics and an individual's response to a job describes the relationship between work characteristics and occupations.

According to the Job Characteristics Theory, five core job characteristics trigger three psychological states and, in turn, lead to or influence the five core characteristics' work-related outcomes and results. A Job Characteristics Model was developed from this theory and continues to be used today. A model such as this is designed to specify the conditions that contribute to workers' motivation to perform effectively.

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The Job Characteristics Model

When Hackman and Oldham tested this Job Characteristics Model on 658 employees with 62 different jobs in seven organizations or businesses, they found it valid. Despite the introduction of other job design theories, the results of this study still hold much weight today due to their reliability and conclusiveness.

This diagram illustrates Hackman and Oldham's Job Characteristics Model.

A complete understanding of the Job Characteristics Model requires a breakdown of its components: the five defining job characteristics model specifies jobs, the five work-related outcomes, and the three psychological states.

Five core job characteristics

The five characteristics or dimensions of a job were defined clearly by Hackman and Oldham.

1) Skill variety

In general, this refers to how many different activities are required to perform a job, which requires various skills and abilities to perform the job. Thus, the individual must demonstrate a wide range of abilities and skills. Several skills and talents are necessary for the job being filled by the person responsible for its performance. The worker must accomplish several tasks in the job security order to determine whether the job is monotonous or repetitive.

Comparing two individuals who work at different jobs. There are many routines and repetitive tasks and functions to be performed in Job A, and the work is pretty straightforward. It does not require a lot of skill or ability. On the other hand, Job B is quite complex, requiring several skills or abilities. What employee will be more likely to experience meaningfulness at work? Yes, that is true. This one is working on Job B since it demands various skills.

2) Task identity

A job's value is its ability to complete an identifiable whole, i.e., completing a job from beginning to end with a visible outcome". In other words, this involves working on an entire work process instead of just parts of work outcomes of work redesigning it. Consequently, assessing the job or task's beginning, middle, and end is essential.

When workers can determine a complete, visible outcome at both the quality and end of the day or a work cycle, they tend to find more meaning in their jobs. In the following example, two workers are involved in the same work process. Worker A is responsible for a very small amount of work initially. Contrary to worker A, worker B participates in every step.

As a result of his involvement in completing the process, Worker B feels more meaning in his job since he can see the outcome of his efforts. His idea of a meaningful job is one that he can complete from beginning to end, rather than just working on Phase 1 and not being involved in the rest. Since he is concentrating on his assigned phase, he may not even know whether the entire process has been completed.

3) Task significance

Basically, task significance refers to whether a job has a meaningful impact on people's lives, whether inside or outside the organization at large". The task - and the job - are significant if they can impact other people's lives. It should be not only internal employees but also those outside the organization.

Many people find their jobs more meaningful if they can contribute to the physical, psychological, or emotional well-being of others. Knowing that their job, and their performance, can positively impact others will motivate them to work harder and do better. People who place a high value on task significance are extremely interested in learning if their work is meaningful to others. They find meaning in positive work outcomes and internal work motivation in the recognition they receive from others.

4) Autonomy

This refers to the extent to which the job gives the individual reasonable freedom, discretion, greater personal responsibility, and autonomy in scheduling and completing the task".

Often, positions with managerial, supervisory, or ministerial functions are autonomous. Supervisors, division and department heads, and senior managers in managerial positions are examples of jobs with high autonomy and experienced responsibility. Those who do these jobs feel a greater sense of responsibility for their actions, making them more meaningful.

It's not limited to those in management positions. Employees even feel responsible if they can make decisions and call the shots when they are left to do their own work. Their autonomy will be reduced if they are forced to meekly follow the instructions of supervisors or only follow what is in the job procedures manual. As a result, there will be no sense of personal responsibility anywhere in their actions.

5) Feedback

Feedback aims to inform workers how they can improve their job performance. Seventy-five percent of employees say receiving feedback is extremely helpful, yet only thirty percent receive it regularly. Customers can provide feedback in various ways, including through surveys and feedback from managers. Additionally, it may occur naturally as the result of your efforts. 

For example, a cleaner sweeps and mops the floor as part of his or her responsibilities. They only have to look at their finished work to know how well they did it, whereas someone working on a manufacturing line might not find out until someone else takes a look at it. Getting feedback on how well you're doing your job is popular among employees. They will also learn about their progress and feel more confident about themselves. 

Their supervisors or managers telling them they are doing a good job will motivate them to continue working similarly. However, if they are told they are not performing as well as they should, they will respond accordingly and improve their work performance.


In conclusion, the Job Characteristics Model provides a framework for understanding the key components of a job that contribute to employee motivation and satisfaction. By assessing the five core job characteristics (skill variety, task significance, task identity, autonomy, and feedback), organizations can design jobs that foster engagement, productivity, and high job satisfaction, among their employees. Additionally, the model highlights the importance of individual differences and psychological states, such as the need for growth and development, in determining job satisfaction. Therefore, by utilizing the Job Characteristics Model, organizations can improve job design, create more fulfilling work experiences, and ultimately encourage employees to drive better business outcomes.

Topic: Model EN
Carin Vreede

Written by:

Carin Vreede

With years of experience in the HR field, Carin has a lot of experience with HR processes. As a content marketer, she translates this knowledge into engaging and informative content that helps companies optimize their HR processes and motivate and develop their employees.


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