Job demands cost energy and affect job stress and health. Job resources affect motivation and performance and can buffer the negative affects of demands.
All job characteristics can be thought of as either demands or resources. This is the foremost proposition of the Job Demands-Resources theory of job stress and motivation, which I described in Stay Woke About Work: Job Demands and Resources Shed Light on Stress and Motivation.
Richard Lazarus and Susan Folkman’s classic 1984 book, Stress, Appraisal, and Coping, defined different kinds of stressors: challenges and hindrances. Jeffery LePine and his team at University of Florida expanded on this and found that challenge demands are linked to improved job performance; hindrance demands lead to impaired work engagement and performance.
Opportunities and Obstacles
We’ll get to some examples, but for now know that:
- Challenge demands cost energy but are viewed by workers as opportunities to grow, improve, advance, achieve.
- Hindrance demands cost energy and are perceived as unnecessary obstacles, thwarting personal growth, wellbeing, and achievement.
(By the way, there also are different types of resources — for example, job resources and personal resources. Job resources include things like performance feedback, training, and autonomy; personal resources include self-efficacy (confidence in your ability to have an effect) and optimism. For a more detailed and expert analysis of different types of demands and resources, see Maria Tims and Arnold Bakker’s article, “Job Crafting: Towards a New Model of Job Redesign.”)
Demands-Resources Job Crafting
In job crafting with the JD-R model, employees
- Seek resources
- Seek challenge demands
- Reduce hindrance demands
Some of what researchers point to as resources — like performance feedback and training — are sometimes viewed by employees as hindrances. And occasionally there’s a fine line between a resource like autonomy and a hindrance demand like role ambiguity.
For clarification, it’s helpful to see what experts consider demands and resources. Below are examples adapted from a book chapter called “A Critical Review of the Job Demands-Resources Model: Implications for Improving Work and Health,” by Wilmar Schaufeli and Toon Taris.
- Cognitive demands
- Computer problems
- Emotional demands
- Interpersonal conflict
- Job insecurity
- Work-family conflict
- Difficult customers
- Physical demands
- Inadequate rewards
- Role ambiguity
- Unfavorable shift work schedule
- Unfavorable work conditions
- Work pressure
- Work-home conflict
- Work overload
- Goal clarity
- Innovative climate
- Professional development
- Participation in decision making
- Performance feedback
- Procedural fairness
- Positive customer interactions
- Quality of the relationship with the supervisor
- Safety climate
- Social support
- Skill utilization
- Strategic planning
- Task variety
- Team harmony
- Trust in management
- Emotional and mental competencies
- Intrinsic motivation
- Organization-based self-esteem