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SMART Work Design

The SMART work design model outlines five key themes to consider when creating or developing work. 


This framework can assist individuals and organisations to better understand the elements of work design and enable the development of tailored solutions to fit the organisation, individuals and situation. Focusing on how to optimise work design through SMART can lead to more meaningful, interesting and motivating work which will have significant benefits for employees and employers alike.

To learn more about theme individually, click each of the SMART boxes. 

To discover how SMART your work is, take our assessment by clicking here.

SMART Work Design

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Workplace Wellbeing

SMART work design is a key component of Thrive at Work, a world-first wellbeing initiative centred on designing work that helps employees, organisations and industry to thrive.


SMART work design is specifically related to the Prevent Harm pillar of the framework.The Thrive at Work framework incorporates and extends beyond the elements of the SMART work design model and explains how we can support people in workplaces to get well (Mitigate Illness), stay well (Prevent Harm) and be the best they can be (Promote Thriving).

Led by the Future of Work Institute- at Curtin University, Thrive at Work has been developed with leading mental health bodies – for and with, businesses.


To learn more about Thrive visit the Thrive at Work website.


Research Spotlight

It's easy to understand how improving an individuals work design can make their job more satisfying and enjoyable. The benefits do not stop there however. There are a wide range of positive outcomes that organisations can expect from their employees including: 

1. Increased motivation, job satisfaction [1] and organisational commitment [2]

2. Increased creativity, proactivity and innovation [3]

3. Enhanced wellbeing and psychological health [4] [5] [6] 

4. Higher levels of personal resources such as self efficacy, optimism and self esteem [7]

5. Reduced risk of sickness and stress-related illness [8]

6. Reduced numbers of critical safety incidents [9]

7. Enhanced learning and development and better cognitive functioning in later life [10]

The Business Case

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Case Study: SMART in Action

"How 5 minutes a day could save Perth hospitals millions"

Recent research conducted by CTWD illustrates the large and critical impacts that even small SMART work design changes can make to organisational outcomes. 

The CTWD Perth hospital study trialled the use of inter-discipline surgical briefings in order to increase the Relational and Mastery domains of the SMART model. These briefings encouraged team members to come together just five minutes before the beginning of surgery and introduce themselves, discuss the upcoming procedures and any areas of concern. This simple positive SMART work design practice looked to increase role clarity and feedback from others (Mastery), while building relationships (Relational) in line with the organisation’s strategic objective. 

Preliminary results indicate a number of positive outcomes. First, there was found to be a 30% increase in efficiency within teams that engaged in the initiative. This was calculated to correspond to a $5 - 17 million saving for a hospital if they were to fully implement the initiative. Second, surgical teams acknowledged that the briefings resulted in increased engagement and better communication within teams. Improved communication is likely to result in better patient safety outcomes and enhance productivity more broadly.


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[1] Hackman, J. R., & Oldham, G. R. (1975) Development of the job diagnostic survey. Journal of Applied Psychology, 60(2), 159-170.

[2] Humphrey, S. E., Nahrgang, J. D., & Morgeson, F. P. (2007). Integrating motivational social and contextual work design features: A meta-analytic summary and theoretical extension of the work design literature. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 1332–1356.

[3] Tornau, K., & Frese, M. (2013). Construct clean-up in proactivity research: a meta-analysis on the nomological net
of work-related proactivity concepts and their incremental validities. Applied Psychology, 62, 44–96.

[4]  Nieuwenhuijsen, K., Bruinvels, D., & Frings-Dresen, M. (2010). Psychosocial work environment and stress-related disorders, a systematic review. Occupational Medicine, 60, 277-286.

[5] Theorell, T., Hammarström, A., Aronsson, G., Träskman Bendz, L., Grape, T., Hogstedt, C., Marteinsdottir, I., Skoog, I., & Hall, C. (2015). A systematic review including meta-analysis of work environment and depressive symptoms. BMC Public Health 15, no.1.

[6]  Stansfeld, S., & Candy, B. (2006). Psychosocial work environment and mental health—a meta-analytic review. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, 32, 443-462.

[7]  Xanthopoulou, D., Bakker, A.B., Demerouti, E., & Schaufeli, W.B. (2007). The role of personal resources in the job
demands–resources model. International Journal of Stress Management, 14, 121–41.

[8]  Belkic, K. L., Landsbergis. P. A., Schnall, P. L., & Baker, D. (2004). Is job strain a major source of cardiovascular disease
risk? Scand. J. Work Environ. Health, 30, 85–128.

[9]  Parker, S. K., (2015). Does the evidence and theory support the ‘Good Work Design Principles’: An educational resource. Safework Australia. 

[10]  Karp, A., Andel, R., Parker, M.G., Wang, H.X., Winblad, B., & Fratiglioni, L. (2009). Mentally stimulating activities at
work during midlife and dementia risk after age 75: follow-up study from the Kungsholmen Project. Am.
Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 17, 227–36.

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