Job Characteristics Theory (JCT) analysis

Job Characteristics Theory (JCT)


Job characteristics theory (JCT) specifically deals with the design of work places and job satisfaction. It offers a set of principles that when implemented, they enrich jobs in organizations. Currently, employees are essential for organization growth and enhanced performance because they provide relevant skills, experience and ideas to the business. As such, it is imperative for the top management to develop human resources frameworks that will create optimal satisfaction to employees and minimize bad attitudes or deviant behaviors. By using Google Inc, the paper will analyze the theory’s job characteristics that include feedback, autonomy, task identity, skill variety, and task significant to show how the characteristics influence the psychological states of employees in attaining organization outcomes such as performance, turnover and satisfaction.

Theoretic background

The job characteristic theory analyses factors that make a specified job within an organization satisfying to the employees. The theory was initiated by Greg Oldham and J Richard Hackman in 1976 and in 1980, the theory was refined again. Faturochman (1997) stated that Job characteristics theory was vital in describing the link between the response of individuals to work and the job characteristics. The fundamental job characteristics theory’s components are the five characteristics of jobs that can be studied to assist in the prediction of job satisfaction. These components are task identity, autonomy, skill variety, task significance, and job feedback.

Task identity: This is the measurement scale in which an employee within an organization can identify and complete a specific job with  visible results or outcomes. Employees lose interest when they participate in the entire job process rather than having responsibility for part of the specified work (Northouse,2007).

Skill variety: This is the degree in which a given work involves several activities that entails distinct job related talents and skills. Employees get more interested in tasks that require more abilities and skills rather than routine works that create monotony (Smith & Hitt,2007).

Task Significance: This is the degree in which the job or employment opportunity affects the lives of other people. The influence may either be in the external environment or within the immediate organization. Employees perceive a job to be meaningful if it significantly improves either the physical well being or psychological well being of others rather than those tasks that do not have any or have minimal impacts on others (Ilgen &Pulakos,2008).

Autonomy: This refers the extent to which a specified task or job offers the workforce with substantial independence, discretion to plan their work, freedom and their ability to independently determine the procedure of the specified job. In cases where the task or job has extensive autonomy, the outcome of that work depends on the employee’s own decisions, efforts and initiatives and not the instructions from superiors. In numerous cases, employees feel great responsibility for their own failure or success at work places (Brown, Merkl &Snower,2009).

Job feedback: This refers to the degree in which a specified job or task can offer clear or direct information to employees on how effective they perform their work. When employees get information about their performance, they tend to enhance their work output (Smith & Hitt,2007).

The presence of the five job characteristics results in three psychological states.

Experienced meaningfulness of work: This refers to the employee’s perception on how work is meaningful and whatever the employee does adds value to the external environment and/or to other people(Northouse,2007).

Experiencing personal responsibility of work: This is the feeling that a worker is responsible and responsible for the outcome of a specified job (Brown, Merkl &Snower,2009).

Knowledge of the work activity result: This refers to the degree in which an employee has sufficient knowledge of the work and comprehends how he or she is performing the work(Faturochman,1997).

The three psychological states must be experienced by the employees in order for them to post desirable outcomes. If one or all of the psychological states are missing, outcome variables of the employees such as satisfaction, performance and motivation will be minimal. When the five characteristics of jobs are present, the three psychological states will be realized thus resulting  in full job satisfaction(Northouse,2007).

Organizational example: Job characteristics theory

Google incorporation is a major global search engine. Google has seen hi-tech innovation making it one of the largest internet based organization. Its innovation, high performance and many products are a result of satisfied work force (Miner,2005). Although the nation is facing a stubbornly high level of unemployment especially in technology savvy companies, organization are struggling to attract and retain top talent, resulting in innovative ways of keeping its staff happy. As such, it has become common for organizations to develop programs that improve the work place environment, enable workers to undertake their duties remotely, and giving employees more autonomy. Google incorporation has used job characteristics theory to improve the performance of the staff, which has in turn propelled its performance (Faturochman,1997).

In 2012, Google incorporation was the top company that experienced a soar in employee’s satisfaction rates by 37%.This was attributed to improved employee growth and support, a category that posted a rise of 80% among the employees. The increase in the Google stock prompted the organization to initiate a number of benefits that include death benefit, allowing employees autonomy in their work thus resulting in innovative products, allowing some employees the freedom of working from home, developing programs that enable employees to handle multi tasks and jobs that they are interested in, enhancing inclusion and participation of workers in decision making processes, and offering continuous training to employees so that they continuously see the value and meaningfulness of the job.

Basing on the Google case study, it is evident that when employees are supported and given autonomy and freedom, they are likely to perform and hold their jobs with much value that those who are denied responsibility. Organizations need to utilize Job characteristics theory in order to improve their human resources (Lang,Majamdar & NationalBBureaue of Economic research,2012).


Job characteristics theory provides a vital platform over which employees derive full satisfaction in their work places. The main job characteristics are feedback, autonomy, task identity, skill variety, and task significant and they have a major influence on employee’s psychological experiences that include Knowledge of the result, experiencing personal responsibility of work, and experienced meaningfulness of work. The three psychological states must be experienced by the employees in order for them to post desirable outcomes. Job motivation and satisfaction can be optimally achieved if natural work units are developed to increase task significance and identity, combination of tasks to enhance skill variety, and enabling employees to be accountable and responsible to their outcome by enhancing their sense of autonomy and independence.


Northouse, P. G. (2007). Leadership: Theory and practice. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.

Smith, K. G., & Hitt, M. A. (2007). Great minds in management: The process of theory

            development.   Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brown, A. J. G., Merkl, C., & Snower, D. J. (2009). An incentive theory of matching. Kiel: Kiel

Inst. for the     World Economy.

Faturochman (1997). The Job Characteristics Theory: A Review. Buletin Psikologi. V, 2.

December, 1997. p. 1-13.

Miner, J. B. (2005). Essential theories of motivation and leadership. Armonk, NY [u.a.: Sharpe.

Ilgen, D. R., & Pulakos, E. D. (2008). The changing nature of performance: Implications for

            staffing, motivation, and development. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Lang, K., Majumdar, S., & National Bureau of Economic Research. (2012). The pricing of job

characteristics when markets do not clear: Theory and policy implications. Cambridge, Mass:        National Bureau of Economic Research.


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