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Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS) by Hackman and Oldham

Last Updated : 03 Apr, 2024
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Developed by J. Richard Hackman and Greg R. Oldham, the Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS) serves as a comprehensive tool designed to evaluate the nature of tasks performed within a job, specifically aligned with their job characteristics model. This model posits that the inherent qualities of job tasks contribute significantly to key outcomes such as job performance and job satisfaction. The JDS goes beyond objective job properties, prioritizing the assessment of perceived job characteristics over their factual counterparts. The survey encompasses several critical job descriptive constructs, including skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, feedback from the work itself, feedback from agents, and the opportunity to deal with others. Its primary goal is to discern whether and how jobs might be redesigned to optimize employee motivation and job satisfaction. By emphasizing perceived job characteristics and their impact on employee experiences, the JDS remains a valuable tool for organizations aiming to enhance workplace dynamics and foster a more fulfilling and motivating work environment.


Geeky Takeaways:

  • The JDS developed by J. Richard Hackman and Greg R. Oldham will evaluate job tasks and their characteristics.
  • It aims to diagnose existing jobs and discern how they could be redesigned to optimize employee motivation and satisfaction.
  • This model, which the JDS is based on, posits that inherent job qualities impact key outcomes like performance and satisfaction.
  • By emphasizing perceived characteristics, the JDS remains valuable for optimizing workplace dynamics and fostering a fulfilling, motivating environment.

Job Characteristics (Core Factors)

1. Skill Variety: Skill Variety emphasizes the diverse set of tasks within a job, ensuring that employees engage in various activities that tap into various skills and talents. Jobs with a high skill variety provide employees with continuous opportunities for learning and skill development. This prevents job monotony and contributes to their professional growth by exposing them to versatile challenges. A dynamic mix of tasks ensures that employees stay engaged and find fulfillment in their work through the utilization of a broad skill set.

2. Task Identity: Task Identity goes beyond merely completing tasks; it focuses on the fulfillment derived from finishing entire, identifiable pieces of work. Jobs with a high task identity offer employees a sense of ownership and accomplishment as they witness projects from initiation to completion. This connection to the entire project lifecycle enhances job satisfaction, instilling a profound understanding of the value of individual contributions. Employees find meaning in seeing the tangible outcomes of their efforts, fostering a sense of purpose.

3. Task Significance: Task significance measures the extent to which a job impacts the lives or work of others. Beyond personal satisfaction, this dimension highlights the broader societal or organizational implications of an individual’s work. Jobs with high task significance provide employees with a sense of purpose by showcasing how their efforts contribute meaningfully to the well-being or success of others. This broader impact fosters a deeper sense of fulfillment and motivation as employees recognize the significance of their contributions in a larger context.

4. Autonomy: Autonomy assesses the freedom and independence employees have in scheduling tasks and determining procedures. This dimension empowers individuals to make decisions, fostering creativity and innovation. Jobs with high autonomy not only cultivate a sense of control and responsibility but also create an environment where employees can contribute their unique perspectives. This not only drives overall job satisfaction but also enhances motivation, as employees feel a greater sense of ownership over their work.

5. Feedback: Feedback evaluates how effectively job activities provide individuals with direct and clear information about their performance. This dimension underscores the critical role of constructive feedback in guiding continuous improvement. Jobs with effective feedback mechanisms empower employees to gauge the impact of their contributions, promoting self-awareness, motivation, and a sense of achievement. Regular and meaningful feedback contributes to a culture of growth and development, enhancing overall job satisfaction and performance by providing employees with the tools to continually refine their skills and contribute meaningfully to their roles.

Experienced Psychological States (Intervening Variables)

1. Experienced Meaningfulness: Experienced meaningfulness reflects the extent to which an employee perceives their work as inherently meaningful and valuable, contributing to their overall job satisfaction. This subjective evaluation hinges on three key job characteristics: skill variation, task identity, and task importance. The presence of these elements in a job can enhance its perceived meaningfulness, fostering a sense of purpose and significance in the work undertaken.

2. Experienced Responsibility: The experienced feeling of responsibility within a job is intricately linked to the autonomy it provides and demands. This dimension assesses how much independence and control an employee has in their role, directly impacting their sense of responsibility. Jobs that offer a higher degree of autonomy tend to foster a greater sense of accountability, as individuals feel empowered to make decisions and take ownership of their tasks and outcomes.

3. Knowledge of Results: Knowledge of results is shaped by the feedback systems implemented within a company. This aspect gauges the extent to which a taskholder receives direct and clear information about the effectiveness of their performance. Effective feedback mechanisms contribute to an individual’s understanding of their impact, facilitating continuous improvement and motivation. Clear communication of results creates a transparent link between actions and outcomes, influencing job satisfaction and performance.

Growth Need Strength (Moderating Variables)

The concept of “growth needs strength” revolves around individuals’ inherent desires to develop, learn, and achieve progress in their professional roles. It’s crucial to recognize that not everyone possesses a high growth need strength, as some individuals find contentment in their current positions and derive happiness from where they are. A heightened growth need acts as an intrinsic motivator, influencing employees with a “high” growth need strength to undergo critical psychological experiences such as a sense of meaningfulness, responsibility, and knowledge of results in their work. Employees with a high growth need strength are likely to achieve positive outcomes when the core characteristics of their job align with their roles, resulting in a positive psychological experience. This alignment allows them to feel a sense of purpose, take ownership of their tasks, and understand the effectiveness of their efforts. On the contrary, individuals lacking high growth need strength and may not be significantly influenced by the core characteristics of their jobs. Hackman and Oldham assert that the model’s outcomes, including intrinsic motivation, work performance, job satisfaction, job involvement, and low absenteeism and turnover, are contingent on the presence of growth need strength as a moderator.

Motivation Potential Score (MPS)

Scores can be assigned to each of the five indicators, namely skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback, and subsequently, these scores are amalgamated. This resulting number serves as an indicator of the overall motivating potential inherent in a scrutinized task or job, offering insights into how the job influences the employee’s attitudes and behaviors. This numerical representation is termed the Motivating Potential Score (MPS), and its calculation involves the formula:


The MPS is an index of the degree to which a job has an overall potential to motivate employees. Following Hackman and Oldham, a low MPS score suggests that employees are not experiencing high intrinsic motivation, indicating the need for a redesign of the job or task. Notably, the equation reveals that feedback and autonomy exert a more pronounced impact on motivation compared to the other indicators.

Moreover, Hackman and Oldham emphasize that an employee can only attain the three crucial psychological states, experiencing meaningfulness, responsibility, and knowledge of results, if they achieve a high score across all five indicators. This underscores the integral role of a balanced combination of skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback in fostering a work environment conducive to intrinsic motivation and positive employee experiences.

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