How to Align Jobs With Employees

Topic(s): Job Design
Publication: Personnel Psychology (2013)
Article: Getting what the occupation gives: Exploring multilevel links between work design and occupational values
Authors: E.C. Dierdorff, F.P. Morgeson
Reviewed by: Scott Charles Sitrin

When designing a job, consider the values of the occupation within which the job resides, according to new research (Dierdorff & Morgeson, 2013). For example, imagine that you’re designing an internal consultant job that you expect to be filled by someone who comes from the occupational field of industrial and organizational psychology. In crafting the type of tasks that this job will involve, consider the values of the occupation as a whole. For instance, if people within the occupation tend to value achievement and independence, ensure that the job you create incorporates these features. If you do so, it’s likely that the employee will derive satisfaction from his or her job.

In their study, the researchers assessed the work characteristics and job satisfaction of 805 individuals from 230 occupations. The Work Design Questionnaire assessed work characteristics, and sample items include “The job allows me to decide on my own how to go about doing my work” and “The job itself provides feedback on my performance.” Questions such as “I like the kind of work I do” and “I like my job better than the average worker does” measured job satisfaction. Lastly, information from the O*NET database served as the indicators of six occupational values: achievement, independence, altruism, status, comfort, and safety. Sample questions that assessed these values include “Workers on this job get a feeling of accomplishment” and “Workers on this job get to try out their own ideas.”

Results indicated that five of the occupational values – achievement, independence, altruism, status, and comfort – are related to various work characteristics. Further, work characteristics – as a reflection of overall occupational values – were related to job satisfaction.