Driving employees’ well-being through high quality work design, promoting joy at work, and embracing positive habits

By Dr. Lew Tek Yew

As we enter a new year, let us take a moment to reflect and assess the quality of our work design.

Work design refers to the nature, structure and organisation of tasks, activities, relationships, and responsibilities at work which individuals undertake. Organisations and employees should work collaboratively to develop high quality work design that will result in positive outcomes and contribute to creating thriving organisations, generate productive and happier workplaces, and enhance employees’ well-being.

Director of the Centre of Transformative Work Design at the Future of Work Institute, Curtin University, John Curtin Distinguished Professor Sharon Parker, developed the SMART Work Design Model which encompasses the following elements:

Stimulating (S): The degree to which your job requires a variety of skills and abilities (skills variety), the degree to which you perform a wide range of  tasks in your role (task variety), and the degree to which your job requires you to think ‘outside the box’ (problem solving demands).

Mastery (M): The extent to which you clearly understand what you need to do and what is expected of you in performing your job (role clarity), the degree to which your job provides information on your performance in your job role (job feedback), and the degree to which your  job allows you to take a task from beginning to end (task identity).

Agency (Autonomous work) (A): The extent to which you are able to organise your own schedule (work scheduling), the extent to which you can choose the methods in which to achieve your work goals (work methods), and the extent to which you are able to make judgements and decisions individually (decision making).

Relational (R): The extent to which you feel supported by those you work with, including your supervisors (social support), the extent to which you feel your work is important in relation to the lives of others and society more broadly (task significance), and the extent to which you feel that your work is appreciated (social worth).

Tolerable work demands (T): The degree to which an adequate amount of time is required to complete your work (time pressure), the degree to which your work creates emotionally demanding situations (emotional demands), and the extent to which feedback, instructions and demands are inconsistent (role conflict).

The SMART Work Design Model can be applied to develop high quality work design to prevent physical and psychological harm, enhance job performance, and promote well-being at work, which will in turn contribute to creating thriving organisations.

Employees intrinsically seek joy at work and high quality work design promotes harmony at work as each employee has a distinct role in achieving the organisational goals, diverse skills and strengths click together, the impact of team harmony is enhanced,  and the contributions of each employee is acknowledged.

I recently read an article on embracing 10 habits to develop a happy and successful life  habits, and I recommend that every employee embrace the following positive habits towards a happier and successful working life.

  1. Embrace positive thinking: Start taking challenges at work as opportunities to improve ourselves and focusing our mindsets on the positive aspects of work.
  2. Set clear, achievable goals: Begin with small daily objectives and move on to larger, long-term targets to boost energy levels and productivity throughout the day. Focus on the 20 per cent of activities that will generate 80 per cent of our successes at work.
  3. Prioritise our well-being: Allocate time for activities that promote our health such as medication, exercising, good nutrition and maintaining a balanced work-life routine.
  4. Cultivate gratitude: Be thankful for what you have in life and at work, the goals you have achieved, the talents you have groomed, the joy in our everyday lives and appreciate every moment of our lives.
  5. Embrace continuous learning and personal growth: Equip ourselves with new skills, knowledge and perspectives to be more resourceful and ready to grab opportunities in the future.
  6. Practice kindness and empathy: Make your colleagues feel good and supported to promote deeper connections, mutual respect, and sense of belonging.
  7. Learn to let go: Continuously reflect on our experiences and learn from past mistakes to free up our minds for more positive thoughts and experiences.
  8. Maintain a healthy work life balance: Set boundaries for work hours, hobbies, and making time for loved ones to strike a good balance of career success, personal fulfilment and well-being.
  9. Believe in yourself: Cultivate the belief that you are unique, have the abilities to perform, have self-worth and potential to reach your dreams.
  10. Resilience: Develop the ability to bounce back from setbacks and keep moving forward by maintaining a problem-solving mindset and surrounding yourself with supportive people.

Try out the SMART Work Design Model dimensions to develop high quality work designs at your workplace and embrace the 10 positive working habits as you craft your career objectives and strategies in the coming new year 2024!

Dr. Lew Tek Yew is an Associate Professor in the Department of Management, Marketing and Digital Business, Faculty of Business, Curtin University Malaysia. His research interests encompass work design, future of work, psychological capital, employee engagement, organisational commitment, job performance, and occupational well-being. Dr. Lew holds a PhD in Human Resource Development and has been lecturing at Curtin Malaysia  since 2003.  His research achievements include publishing over 30 journal articles in peer-reviewed research journals. Dr. Lew can be contacted by email to lew.tek.yew@curtin.edu.my.