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Stream 1: Work Design For Mental Health and Well-Being

About stream 1

In this stream, we build on an existing large research base (summarised in Parker, Morgeson, and Johns, 2017) to assess the impact of work design on worker mental health and well-being. We recognise that changing work design (or work redesign; see Stream 3) is a powerful way to reduce or eradicate psychosocial risks, and is thereby an important way to prevent work-related mental ill health.

Ongoing and Past Projects

SMART Design for Care (on-going). This is a project in New South Wales funded by icare, an insurance company, that aims to redesign work in aged care, disability care, and other organisations in the New South Wales Healthcare and Social Assistance (H&SA) industry. The goal is to improve worker mental health, and ultimately to reduce workers’ compensation claims. 

The H&SA sector is large and diverse, employing more than 1.5 million workers across Australia from various backgrounds and in different occupations (e.g., aged care, disability care).  To date, research on the importance of work design - the tasks, responsibilities, and organization of work roles - in this sector remains scarce. Our understanding of interventions is also limited due to the dominant focus on individual responsibility for treatment (e.g., Employee Assistance Programs) rather than changing the work systems causing mental ill-health.  

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Hospital Lobby

We take a systemic approach

Focused on designing both individual and structural interventions (such as work redesign), which have been shown to be superior to alternative approaches in preventing and reducing psychological injury at work. Our focus is therefore addressing the question: how we can leverage work design as an intervention for the prevention of psychological injury and promoting thriving at work for workers in the health and care industry?


For more information, contact us at Design for Care.

Safework funded project that focuses on improving worker mental health in an aged-care organisation (on-going). Our specific focus is on how we can alleviate or mitigate the effects of excess work demands through an organisational-level work redesign. For more information, contact Dr Daniela Andrei

Mental health, respect, and safety in the WA mining sector (on-going).  In this project, funded by DMIRS, we are carrying out a Landmark Study of the mining sector. For more information, contact Dr Cheryl Yam

A large-scale study of the mental health and well-being of FIFO workers (completed). In 2018, funded by the Mental Health Commission in WA, we conducted a large-scale project with multiple study elements to assess the mental health and well-being of FIFO workers in the mining/resources sector. In this research, we identified FIFO workers and their partners as an at-risk group for mental ill health. Importantly, our research identified strategies to protect and enhance FIFO workers’ mental health, including work design factors such as rosters. In 2020, we extended this study to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on FIFO workers mental health. 

Mental health and work design in WA Care Workers (on-going). For example, we have been working with Silverchain and Chorus, both aged care organisations, to understand how to improve workers’ mental health, well-being, and effectiveness. 

Various Thrive at Work projects across Australia (on-going). In these projects, we apply the Thrive at Work model to analyse worker mental health and well-being, and their drivers. 

Practical Resources

Change the work

This “change the work” video of a real situation shows how poor work design can cause severe distress for workers. It shows how we need to give more attention to ‘changing the work’ instead of ‘changing the person’, with the latter being the more common focus.

Our Thrive at Work model includes, but goes beyond, work design. Our website outlines the Thrive at Work model, survey, audit, and resources. Parker, Jorritsma, and Griffin (2022) describes the Thrive model, providing a holistic overview of mental health strategies in the workplace, including the role of work design

provides details of the SMART work design model; this practical paper provides an outline of the model; and this video shows Sharon providing an overview of the model. 

Click here for more information on SMART

Practical resources about virtual work/ working from home can be found on our website

Research Publications Related to Work Design and Mental Health

Parker, S. K., Jorritsma, K., & Griffin, M. A. (2021). Shifting the Mental Health Conversation:  Present and Future Applications of the “Thrive at Work” Framework. In P. Brough, E. Gardiner, and K. Daniels. (Eds).  Handbook on Management and Employment Practices, Handbook Series in Occupational Health Sciences, Springer Nature.

Cangiano, F., Parker, S. K., & Ouyang, K. (2021). Too proactive to switch off: When taking charge drains resources and impairs detachment. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 26(2), 142-154.

Chapman, M. T., Temby, P., Crane, M., Ntoumanis, N., Quested, E., Thøgersen-Ntoumani, C., Parker, S. K., Ducker, K. J., Peeling, P., & Gucciardi, D. F. (2021). Team resilience emergence: Perspectives and experiences of military personnel selected for elite military training. European Journal of Social Psychology.

Gucciardi, D. F., Lang, J. W. B., Lines, R. L. J., Chapman, M. T., Ducker, K. J., Peeling, P., Crane, M., Ntoumanis, N., Parker, S. K., Thøgersen-Ntoumani, C., Quested, E., & Temby, P. (2021). The emergence of resilience: Recovery trajectories in sleep functioning after a major stressor. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 10(4), 571–589.

Parker, S. K., & Jorritsma, K. (2021). Good work design for all: Multiple pathways to making a difference. European Journal Of Work And Organizational Psychology, 30(3), 456-468.

Reich, T. C., Hershcovis, M. S., Lyubykh, Z., Niven, K., Parker, S. K., & Stride, C. B. (2021). Observer reactions to workplace mistreatment: It’s a matter of perspective. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 26(5), 374–392.

Stephan, U., Zbierowski, P., Pérez-Luño, A., Wach, D., Alba Cabañas, M., Barki, E., Benzari, A., Bernhard-Oet, C., Boekhorst, J., Dash, A., Efendic, A., Eib, C., Hanard, P.-J., Iakovleva, T., Kawakatsu, S., Khalid, S., Leatherbee, M., Li, J., Parker, S., Qu, J., Rosati, F., Sahasranamam, S., Sekiguchi, T., Yshikawa Salusse, M. A., Thomas, N. A., Torres, O., Ward, M. K., Wiklund, J., Williamson, A. J., & Zahid, M. (2021). Agility or Wait-and-See? How the Covid-19 Crisis Impacts Entrepreneurs’ Well-being across Countries. Academy of Management Proceedings, 2021(1), 11848.

Turner, N., Barling, J., Dawson, J. F., Deng, C., Parker, S. K., Patterson, M. G., & Stride, C. B. (2021). Human resource management practices and organizational injury rates. Journal of Safety Research, 78, 69-79. 

Zhang, F., Wang, B., Qian, J., & Parker, S. K. (2021). Job crafting towards strengths and job crafting towards interests in overqualified employees: Different outcomes and boundary effects. Journal of Organizational Behavior.

Chapman, M. T., Lines, R. L. J., Crane, M., Ducker, K. J., Ntoumanis, N., Peeling, P., Parker, S. K., Quested, E., Temby, P., Thogersen-Ntoumani, C., & Gucciardi, D. F. (2020). Team resilience: A scoping view of conceptual and empirical work. Work & Stress, 34(1), 57-81.

Koen, J., & Parker, S. K. (2020). In the eye of the beholder: How proactive coping alters perceptions of insecurity. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 25(6), 385–400.

Parker, S. K., & Jorristma, K. (2020). Good work design for all: Multiple pathways to making a difference. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. Special issue on impact.

Thøgersen-Ntoumani, C., Quested, E., Smith, B. S., Nicholas, J., McVeigh, J., Fenton, S. A. M., Stamatakis, E., Parker, S., Pereira, G., Gucciardi, D. F., & Ntoumanis, N. (2020). Feasibility and preliminary effects of a peer-led motivationally-embellished workplace walking intervention: A pilot cluster randomized trial (the START trial). Contemporary Clinical Trials, 91, 105969.

Wang, B., Liu, Y., Qian, J. & Parker, S.K. (2020), Achieving effective remote working during the COVID‐19 pandemic: A work design perspective. Applied Psychology , 70(1), 16-59.

Ward, M. K., Yam, C. M. H., Palejwala, Z., Wallman, K., Taggart, S. M., Wood, F. M., & Parker, S. K. (2020). An Experimental Simulation of Heat Effects on Cognition and Workload of Surgical Team Members. Annals of Surgery.

Wu, C., Wang, L., Griffin, M. A., & Parker, S. K. (2020). Effects of chronic job insecurity on Big Five personality change. Journal of Applied Psychology, 105(11), 1308-1326.

Andrei, D. M., Van den Broeck, A., & Parker, S. K. (2019). Good work, poor work? We need to go far beyond capitalism to answer this question. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 12(4), 463-468.

Cangiano, F., Parker, S. K., & Yeo, G. (2019). Does daily proactivity affect well-being? The moderating role of punitive supervision.  Journal of Organizational Behavior, 40(1), 59-72.

Palejwala, Z., Wallman, K., Ward, M. K., Yam, C., Maroni, T., Parker, S. K., & Wood, F. (2019). Effects of a hot ambient operating theatre on manual dexterity, psychological and physiological parameters in staff during a simulated burn surgery. PLoS ONE, 14(10).


Key relevant papers from pre-2017

Parker, S. K., Morgeson, F., & Johns, G. (2017). One hundred years of work design research: Looking back and looking forward. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(3), 403-420.

Wu, C., Luksyte, A., & Parker, S. K. (2015). Overqualification and subjective well-being at work: The moderating role of job autonomy and culture. Social Indicators Research, 121(3), 917-937.

Parker, S. K. (2014). Beyond motivation: Job and work design for development, health, am

bidexterity, and more. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 661-691.

Warr, P. B., Bindl, U., Parker, S. K., & Inceoglu, I. (2014). Four-quadrant investigation of job-related affects and behaviours. An expanded approach to job-related affects and behaviours.  European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 23(3), 342-363.

Parker, S. K., Johnson, A., Collins, C., & Nguyen, H. (2013). Making the most of structural support: Moderating influence of employees’ clarity and negative affect. Academy of Management Journal, 56(3), 867-892. 

Wu, C. H., & Parker, S. K. (2013). Thinking and acting in anticipation: A review of research on proactive behavior. Advances in Psychological Science, 21(4), 679–700.

Hershcovis, S. M., Parker, S. K., Reich, T. C. (2010). The moderating effect of grievance procedures and equal opportunity perceptions on sexual harassment from different perpetrators.  Journal of Business Ethics, 92(3), 415-443.

Weigl, M., Hornung, S., Parker, S. K., Petru, R., Glaser, J., & Angerer, P. (2010). Work engagement and accumulation of task, social, and personal resources: A three-wave structural equation model. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 77(1), 140-153.

Parker, S. K. (2003). Longitudinal effects of lean production on employee outcomes and the mediating role of work characteristics. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(4), 620-634.

Parker, S. K., & Griffin, M. A. (2002). What's so bad about a little name-calling? Negative consequences of gender harassment for over-performance demands and psychological distress. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 7(3), 195-210.

Parker, S. K., Griffin, M. A., Sprigg C., and Wall, T.D. (2002). Effect of temporary contracts on perceived work characteristics and job strain: A longitudinal study. Personnel Psychology, 55(3), 689-719.

Parker, S. K.,  Axtell, C., & Turner, N. A (2001). Designing a safer workplace: Importance of job autonomy, communication quality, and supportive supervisors. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 6(3), 211–228.

Sprigg, C.A., Jackson, P.R., and Parker, S. K. (2000). Production team-working: The importance of interdependence for employee strain and satisfaction. Human Relations, 53(11), 1519-1542.

Parker, S. K., & Sprigg, C. A. (1999). Minimizing strain and maximizing learning: The role of job demands, job control, and proactive personality. Journal of Applied Psychology, 84(6), 925-939.

Teuchmann, K., Totterdell, P., & Parker, S. K. (1999). Rushed, unhappy, drained: An experience sampling study of relations between time pressure, mood and emotional exhaustion in a group of accountants. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 4(1), 37-54.

Parker, S. K., Chmiel, N., & Wall, T.D. (1997). Work characteristics and employee well-being with a context of strategic downsizing. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 2(4), 289-303.

Wall, T. D., Jackson, P. R., Mullarkey, S., & Parker, S. K. (1996). The demand-control model of job-strain: A more specific test. Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, 69(2), 153-167.

For further information on our research

See our publications page
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