If a job has high Motivating Potential, the jobholders are more likely to feel  their work is meaningful, to exhibit high levels of motivation, performance, and job satisfaction. If a job has low Motivating Potential, jobholders are more likely to exhibit negative outcomes, like absenteeism, turnover, and sluggish performance.

To promote employee well-being, employers historically have offered behavior change programs, using a variety of means — some subtle, some less-so — to coax employees to fix what the employer has deemed flaws in employee lifestyles. These tactics have been found to have limited effectiveness.

Employee health is influenced by how work is designed, in addition to workplace policies and environment. Before trying to change employees, employers can take action by changing factors of well-being that they — the employers — control. Healthier job design is closer at hand for employers compared to the daunting task of changing employees’ health habits. Unfortunately, few employers have been trained on how to optimize job design for maximal employee wellbeing, motivation, and performance.

Job Characteristics Model

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The Job Characteristics Model was developed by J. Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham in the 1970s and, despite some gaps, remains the prevailing framework for understanding job design and employee motivation. Their Job Diagnostics Survey, with some tweaks made by follow-up researchers, is one of the most thoroughly studied and validated tools to assess the effectiveness of a job’s design.

I’ve adapted, below, a segment of the Job Diagnostics Survey, to give you an example of its content. These 15 questions generate a “Motivating Potential” score — High Motivating, Moderately Motivating, or Low Motivating — for your job. You’ll get the results instantly, along with brief insights into the components of the score and how to design jobs that are motivating and supportive of employee well-being.

See how it’s done… Assess the motivating potential of your job now.

[Info for wonks: The Motivating Potential assessment tool on the Jozito site is based on Hackman and Oldham’s Job Diagnostic Survey. Like modern health risk appraisals commonly used in wellness programs, the JDS normative data used is not as current as we’d like. The assessment tool here uses the only norms available, published by Hackman and Oldham].