SMART Work is Stimulating

The first letter in the SMART work framework stands for Stimulating


Simply put, Stimulating refers to the extent to which a job involves skill variety, task variety, and problem solving demands.


Skill variety describes the degree to which your job requires a variety of skills and abilities, while task variety refers to the degree to which you perform a wide range of tasks in your role. Problem solving demands describes the degree to which your job requires you to 'think outside the box'

Not all jobs are the same, so an individual’s work can be more or less stimulating.

Qualities of Highly Stimulating Jobs

In highly stimulating jobs, individuals are likely to:

  • use a wide variety of different skills and abilities to complete the work

  • carry out a number of different tasks to achieve their goals

  • need to 'think outside the box' to create solutions to problems

There's never a dull moment. I like the variety

and being out and about around the hospital.

This job teaches me a lot.

-Hospital supply worker.

Qualities of Unstimulating Jobs

In contrast, jobs with a low degree of stimulation will likely contain:

  • a lack of opportunities to use one’s skills and a narrow variety of tasks

  • monotonous and repetitive tasks

  • the need to solve menial and unchallenging problems

BORING- so much time to wait for deliveries!

- Deliveroo workers

What Are the Risks of a Low Stimulating Job?

Non-stimulating, boring, and repetitive work carries risks for both individuals as well as organisations:

Employees can become disengaged, have lower job satisfaction and have no or limited access to professional or personal development [1]. In highly physical work, narrow tasks can cause biomechanical strain or musculoskeletal injuries [2]. Employees in non-stimulating roles can also get “bore-out”, which involves feelings of demotivation, anxiety and sadness and can turn into burnout, depression and even physical illness [3] [4].

For organisations, the risks of narrow, repetitive or passive work include wasted talent, impaired performance, higher accident rate, turnover and absenteeism, as well as less and slower return to work after an injury or illness[5] [6].

'Stimulating' in Action


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

[2]  Parker, S. K., Bindl, U. K., & Strauss, K. (2010). Making things happen: A model of proactive motivation. Journal of Management, 36(4), 827-856.

[3] Loukidou, L., Loan-Clarke, J., & Daniels, K. (2009). Boredom in the workplace: More than monotonous tasks. International Journal of Management Reviews, 11(4), 381-405.

[4]  Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., & Euwema, M. C. (2005). Job resources buffer the impact of job demands on burnout. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 10(2), 170-180.

[5] Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., de Boer, E., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2003). Job demands and job resources as predictors of absence duration and frequency. Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 62(2), 341-356.

[6]  SafeWork NSW. (2017). Review of evidence of psychosocial risks for mental ill-health in the workplace.

[7] Britton, A., & Shipley, M. J. (2010). Bored to death?. International Journal of Epidemiology, 39(2), 370-371.

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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