SMART Work is Relational

The letter R in the SMART framework stands for Relational.


Relational is defined as the extent to which an individual experiences a sense of support, purpose and social contact in their role.

Social support refers to the extent to which an individual feels supported by those they work with, including their supervisors. Task significance describes how much an individual feels their work is important in relation to the lives of others and society more broadly. Social worth concerns the amount that a person feels their work is appreciated. 

As humans, connection to both others and the purpose of our work is a necessary ingredient for feeling satisfied and fulfilled with our jobs. 

Characteristics of Highly Relational Jobs

Jobs that are highly relational are likely to involve:

  • Employees and supervisors who support each other and show personal interest

  • consist of tasks which add a clear sense of value to the organisation

  • contain a degree of feedback from outside the organisation, leading to sense of feeling valued

“People can be having the worst day ever, but they have their hair done and feel better. I like making people happy!”


- Hairdresser

Characteristics of Less Relational Jobs

Jobs that are less relational are likely to involve:

  • teams and supervisors which offer insignificant social support to one another

  • tasks which provide minimal, if any feedback on their value within the organisation

  • minimal opportunities to feel valued for efforts by people outside the organisation

“You get criticised when you’re injured and literally can’t use your leg from the pain.”


Professional Dancer

What Are the Risks of a Job with Poor Relational Design?

From a mental health perspective, research shows that individuals with a low level of social support are at a 24 – 44% level of increased risk for experiencing poor mental ill-health. Interestingly, there was no reported difference in effects between whether this support came from co-workers or supervisors [1].


From an organisational perspective, a lack of relational aspects in work such as social support have been linked to a broad range of outcomes including job stress, job satisfaction, burnout, organisational commitment and employee wellbeing [2] [3].

'Relational' in Action


[1] SafeWork NSW. (2017). Review of evidence of psychosocial risks for mental ill-health in the workplace. New South Wales, Australia.  

[2]  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.

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

[4]  Grant, A. M., Campbell, E. M., Chen, G., Cottone, K., Lapedis, D., & Lee, K. (2007). Impact and the art of motivation maintenance: The effects of contact with beneficiaries on persistence behavior. Organizational behavior and human decision processes, 103(1), 53-67.

[5] Johnson, A., Nguyen, H., Parker, S. K., Groth, M., Coote, S., Perry, L., & Way, B. (2017). “That was a good shift” Interprofessional collaboration and junior doctors’ learning and development on overtime shifts. Journal of health organization and management, 31(4), 471-486.

The Centre for Transformative Work Design is a Research Centre where passionate organisational psychology researchers and professionals are working together to transform work.

We conduct high quality, independent and innovative research to understand the role of work design in generating healthy and productive work. Alongside this, we work with managers, employees and policy makers to create healthier lives, unlock human capability and support a skilled economy.

Contact Us


Centre for Transformative Work Design

Future of Work Institute

Curtin Graduate School of Business 

78 Murray Street, Perth WA 6000

Telephone: +61 8 9266 4668


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