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Top-down work redesign interventions found to enhance performance, new evidence

We have long understood that redesigning work is important for employees' mental health and well-being. For example, interventions such as empowerment, self-managing teams, and job enrichment have been found to reduce distress, enhance engagement, and promote positive well-being.

But what about performance?

Work redesign is theorized to enhance performance yet the evidence for this assumption has not been synthesised in recent times. Our review of 49 top-down work redesign interventions showed that 71% reported a positive effect on performance, 25% reported mixed effects, and 4% showed negative effects.

Relational interventions were particularly effective, and involved developing the significance and meaning of jobs through, for example, contact with beneficiaries and developing supportive work relationships.

Participative and non-participative job enrichment and enlargement interventions also offered consistent evidence, showing how improving the quality of jobs by offering autonomy and stimulating work which plays to individuals’ strengths and interests, is important for performance. Importantly, changes in work design drove performance through improving work motivation, efficiency, and learning, and these mechanisms were impacted by intervention implementation and context, as well as person factors such as prosocial values and conscientiousness.

We integrated our findings into a multilevel framework which can be used by researchers and practitioners to plan and implement work redesigns.

To find out more about this project, please contact Caroline Knight.

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