Task identity

From CEOpedia | Management online

Task identity can be described as one of five elements of Job Characteristics Model (JCM) created by Hackman and Oldham in 1976. This job design model mainly involves developing jobs that are motivating, satisfying and also performed well (M. C. W. Peeters, J. de Jonge, T. W. Taris 2014, p. 65).

Task identity is a concept in job design that suggests that employees should be given an entire task to complete, rather than just a small part of a larger task. This ensures that employees feel a greater sense of ownership over the work they are producing and can identify more with the job they are performing. It is thought that task identity can lead to greater job satisfaction and higher levels of motivation. Task identity is one of the core elements of Job Characteristics Theory, which suggests that job design should focus on the meaningfulness, variety, autonomy, feedback, and task identity of the job in order to maximize job satisfaction.

Task identity can be improved by providing employees with a greater understanding of the end goal of their task and how it contributes to the overall success of the organization. Providing employees with a greater sense of ownership over their work can be achieved by having employees take responsibility for their own tasks and making sure that the task is meaningful to them. Additionally, offering employees more autonomy and control over their task can also lead to greater task identity. Finally, providing employees with frequent feedback and recognition for the work they have done can help increase their sense of accomplishment and task identity.

Elements of JCM model

The JCM model includes five core job dimensions that are proposed to have motivational effects on employees (S. J. Lauby 2005, p. 10):

  1. Skill variety - represents the extent to which a job requires using a wide range of different skills, abilities and also knowledge. A good example of it is the job of a research scientist which requires much more skill variety than the job of a food server.
  2. Task identity - relates to the extent to which a job requires an employee to perform all necessary tasks to complete the job from the beginning to the end. For instance, the job of a crafts worker who takes a piece of wood and transforms it into a custom-made piece of furniture is distinguished by high task identity. Whereas, low task identity may be found in the job of a worker who performs only one of the numerous operations required to assemble a television.
  3. Task significance - refers to the degree to which an employee feels his or her job really matters because of its impact on people inside the organization (e. g. associates) or to people outside the organization (e. g. customers). For example, a teacher who sees the influence of his or her efforts in well-educated students has high task significance in contrast to the job of a dishwasher who tediously washes dishes when they come to the kitchen.
  4. Autonomy - concerns the degree to which a job allows an employee the freedom and discretion needed to plan various tasks and to decide how to complete those tasks. For instance, salespeople arranging their schedules and allocating their time among different customers have comparatively high autonomy, whereas assembly-line workers whose job is determined by the speed of the production line have low autonomy.
  5. Feedback - refers to the extent to which performing a job provides an employee with clear information about how well he or she has completed the task. A good example of this is an air traffic controller who immediately receives feedback on job performance in case of mistakes resulting in a mid-air collision. In turn, a person who creates statistics for a magazine often does not know if he or she has made a mistake .

Example of Task identity

Task identity can be seen in many different job roles and industries. For example, in a manufacturing environment, a worker may be assigned the task of assembling a specific product. The worker will have a full understanding of the product and its importance to the organization, and will be given the autonomy to complete the task in the way that they see fit. This allows them to take ownership over the task and increases their sense of identity with the job. Likewise, in a customer service role, an employee may be responsible for handling all customer inquiries, from start to finish. This provides the employee with a sense of ownership over the task, as they are responsible for seeing it through from beginning to end.

JCM equation

According to Hackman and Oldham's model, the motivating potential of the job is stated by the following equation (M. C. W. Peeters, J. de Jonge, T. W. Taris 2014, p. 66)::


MPS - motivating potential score,
SV - skill variety,
TI - task identity,
TS - task significance,
AU - autonomy,
FB - feedback.

Advantages of Task identity

Task identity has several advantages for both the employer and the employee. For employers, task identity can result in greater job satisfaction, higher levels of productivity, and lower rates of turnover. For employees, task identity can lead to greater job satisfaction, higher levels of motivation and engagement, and better work-life balance. Additionally, task identity can help employees develop a greater sense of ownership over their work and can lead to improved job performance.

Limitations of Task identity

Task identity has several limitations that should be taken into consideration when designing a job. First, it is important to recognize that task identity may not be achievable in all situations, as some tasks may be too complex or time-consuming to be completed by an individual employee. Additionally, task identity is highly dependent on the individual employee and their level of motivation, and so it may not be possible to achieve the same level of task identity for all employees in a given organization. Finally, task identity may not be achievable in all tasks, as some tasks may require multiple people or departments to complete.

Other approaches related to Task identity

Task identity can be improved through a variety of approaches. Some of these include:

  • Utilizing job rotation, which involves having employees move between different tasks or departments within the same organization. This can allow employees to gain a better understanding of the overall goals and objectives of the organization, as well as providing them with a greater sense of diversity in their work which can lead to greater job satisfaction.
  • Rewarding employees for completing tasks or achieving goals, which can be beneficial in terms of increasing motivation and task identity.
  • Providing employees with clear goals and objectives, which can help to increase their sense of achievement and purpose in their work.
  • Encouraging collaboration and teamwork amongst employees, which can help to foster a sense of camaraderie and ownership over their work.

By implementing these approaches, organizations can improve task identity amongst their employees, leading to higher levels of motivation and job satisfaction.

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Author: Klaudia Nycz