the value of the job characteristics model for improving the experience
of work and work - related outcomes for adults with severe and
persistent mental illness
C. Panzano, Ph.D.
Pud D. Baird, Ph.D.
Beverly A. Seffrin,
Decision Support Services, Inc.
experts agree that current employment rates for adults with severe
and persistent mental illness reflect neither the potential nor
the desire of these individuals to work. Numerous barriers are
recognized as contributing to this situation (e.g., stigma, structure
of benefits systems, etc.) and efforts are underway at the federal,
state and local levels to reduce these cultural and system-level
While mental health system leaders tackle the complex problems
of reducing cultural and structural barriers to work for adults
with SPMI, other domains must contribute expertise on the many
issues related to work for this population. Job design is an extensively
studied approach used by Industrial/Organizational (I/O) psychologists
to optimize job structure in order to satisfy both individual
worker and employer interests. The current research is designed
to customize job design knowledge and technology to the population
of adults with severe and persistent mental illness.
The major goal of this research is to evaluate the extent to which
the Job Characteristics Model (JCM) (Hackman & Oldham, 1976),
a motivation-based approach to job design, can be used to understand
and improve the experience of work for members or identifiable
subgroups of the population of adults with SPMI. The JCM, in a
modified form, is expected to be useful for understanding how
job design can improve desired work outcomes for adults with SPMI
and for their employing organizations.
Job Characteristics Model
JCM (see Figure 1) explains how perceived characteristics of jobs
(see below) are related to outcomes that are important to individual
workers and to their employers. Desired outcomes in the JCM include
high levels of internal motivation, quality performance and job
satisfaction, and low absenteeism and turnover. Job characteristics
Skill variety: the range of personal competencies required
to perform the job.
Task identity: the degree to which the entire
job is done by a single person.
Task significance: the extent to which the job
has an impact on the lives of other persons within or outside
Autonomy: the extent to which one has freedom,
discretion, and independence in scheduling one's work and determining
how to performs the job.
Job feedback: the extent to which the worker gets
information about the quality of his/her performance from the
job itself, from coworkers, from customers, etc.
job characteristics are expected to impact outcomes through their
impact n workers' "critical psychological states" including
1) how meaningful the job is, 2) the extent to which the worker
feels responsible for the work produced, and 3) how well the worker
believes s/he is performing the job. The JCM also identifies a
number of factors that are expected to moderate linkages in the
model including: 1) knowledge and skill to perform the job, 2)
the extent to which one is motivated to learn, grow or develop
on the job (i.e., growth need strength (GNS); Alderfer, 1969)
and the worker's level of satisfaction with contextual factors
in the workplace.
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