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S.M.A.R.T work design for better health, satisfaction and performance

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

Whenever you go to work, you have a number of tasks, activities and responsibilities that you need to carry out, usually in collaboration with others. Work design is basically how these tasks, activities, responsibilities and interactions with other people are organised and structured. Good work design is crucial, as it affects both individual employees and organisational outcomes. For employees, work design can affect their motivation, their well-being and their development.

Increased employee motivation, well-being and accelerated development can in turn improve organisational outcomes such as safety, performance, and innovation.

- Sharon Parker, Director of the Centre for Transformative Work Design

What is S.M.A.R.T work design?

The S.M.A.R.T work design framework outlines the job characteristics that are associated with a whole range of positive employee and organisational outcomes, such as enhanced mental health and wellbeing, job satisfaction and performance, and reduced turnover. Research has identified a number of job characteristics that are positive, and the S.M.A.R.T work design framework provides a consolidated view of these job characteristics grouped around 5 key themes: Stimulating, Mastery, Agency, Relational and Tolerable:

Designing work that incorporates and considers how to optimise the job characteristics in the S.M.A.R.T work design framework will lead to more meaningful, interesting, and motivating work, which will have significant benefits for employees and employers alike.

If you find yourself or your employees in a role that provides little opportunity for S.M.A.R.T, there are a number of strategies you may find useful. As an employee, you could:

  • Meet with your manager and ask for new challenges and skill development opportunities

  • Make a list of the variety of tasks you get to do in different areas: skills, activities, people interactions etc. Try to focus on a different area each week

  • Be the first to ask for formal and informal feedback. Check if the tasks you complete can offer immediate feedback

  • Sit down with your team or with your manager to work out how to group the team’s interdependent tasks to make a meaningful set. Make sure to involve a balance between less popular and desirable tasks

  • Speak to your manager about any projects in which you could take ownership

  • If you are able to identify a more effective or efficient method of carrying out your work, develop a business case for it that you can take to your manager

  • If your work does not have a social club, consider starting one

  • When positive external feedback is given for a project or piece of work that others have contributed towards, be sure to share this with those involved

  • Discuss and negotiate your deadlines with your manager. They may not be aware of current length of time some tasks take to complete

  • Take an adequate number and amount of time for breaks. A quick ten minute walk around the block can assist greatly with cognitively demanding tasks

Find out more on the SMART work design website!

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