Technology and the flattening of the global economy have contributed greatly to the changes we now see in jobs and job content across the world. This shift is a signal for employers to meet changing job demands and expectations (McDonald & Obenchain, 2003). We now recognize that a person presented with quality meaningful work is more likely to do that work well. Because of this insight, job design now presently takes a couple of prominent forms.
The first of which is designed around the evolution from individual work to work-groups. This job design practice is called socio-technical systems (STS) approach. This approach has the following guiding principles:
- The design of the organization must fit its goals.
- Employees must be actively involved in designing the structure of the organization.
- Control of variances in production or service must be undertaken as close to their source as possible.
- Subsystems must be designed around relatively self-contained and recognizable units of work.
- Support systems must fit in with the design of the organization.
- The design should allow for a high quality of working life.
- Changes should continue to be made as necessary to meet the changing environmental pressures (Accel Team)
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Another modern job design theory is the Job Characteristics Model (JCM), which maintains five important elements that motivate workers and performance: skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and job feedback. The individual elements are then proposed to lead to positive outcomes through three psychological states: experienced meaningfulness, experienced responsibility, and the knowledge of results (Parker & Turner, 2002).
A further evolution of this theory is Psychological Empowerment Theory (Spreitzer, 1995). This theory posits that there is a distinction between empowering practices and cognitive motivational states. When a person is aware of the impact that they are having, they benefit more than if they cannot relate a positive impact to any of their behaviors or practices.
There are many more iterations of job design theory that have evolved from the practices of previous generations, but one general trend can be identified among them; the move towards autonomous work teams and the importance placed upon the meaning derived from the individual.