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What is SMART Work Design?

The SMART work design model, developed by Australian Research Council Professor Sharon Parker at the Future of Work Institute is a framework that can be used when designing meaningful and motivating work. Based on decades of research [1], the SMART work design model identifies five key themes that result in positive outcomes that contribute to creating a Thriving organisation. The themes for SMART work are: Stimulating, Mastery, Agency, Relational, and Tolerable Demands.

To take the SMART work assessment click here. 

Why is SMART Work Design important?

Decades of research have shown us that good work design practices have positive impacts on individuals, teams and organisations. In particular are the positive effects on preventing harm, wellbeing, and productivity. 

  • Preventing Harm: SMART work design practices can protect individuals from harm by eliminating or minimising the risk of physical and psychological harm before it occurs [2]

  • Enhanced Wellbeing: Introducing positive work design principles through the SMART model can help improve employee wellbeing, which extends beyond the absence of mental ill health towards a sense of thriving. This has been linked towards individuals being more committed to their organisations, more creative, more engaged, higher performing and more innovative [3] [4]

  • Increased Productivity: Research demonstrates that good work design can result in significant financial benefits to organisations through both cost saving and productivity gains [5]

SMART work design forms part of the Thrive at Work workplace wellbeing initiative. To learn more click here

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in the Digital Age

The nature work is rapidly changing. The size of the labour force is increasing, part time work is more common than ever, and Australia has continued to shift away from manufacturing towards a service economy. Alongside this, flexible work requirements, an ageing population, access to disruptive technologies and the gig economy all present further challenges [6]

In response to these challenges, the SMART work model has been developed. SMART work presents a unifying model that empowers employees and managers alike to start making meaningful changes to their work in order to improve wellbeing, reduce risk and enhance productivity in the digital age [3]


[1] ​ Parker, S. K., Morgeson, F. P., & Johns, G. (2017). One hundred years of work design research: Looking back and looking forward. Journal of applied psychology, 102(3), 403.

[2]  Burton, J. (2010). WHO healthy workplace framework and model: Background and supporting literature and practices. World Health Organisation; Geneva.

[3]  Parker, S. K. (2014). Beyond motivation: Job and work design for development, health, ambidexterity, and more. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 661-691.

[4]  Schaufeli, W. B., Bakker, A. B., & Van Rhenen, W. (2009). How changes in job demands and resources predict burnout, work engagement, and sickness absenteeism. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30(7), 893-917.

[5]  Garrow, V. (2016). Presenteeism: A review of current thinking. Institute for Employment Studies (507).

[6] Cassells, R., Duncan, A., Mavisakalyan, A., Phillomore, J., Seymour, R., & Tarverdi, Y. (2019). Future of Work in Australia. Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre. Perth, Australia. 

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