Is Skill Variety Associated with Perceived Meaning in Work?
A job that involves doing the same type of work can be boring. For example, it
may be very boring to read the same two survey questions many times each
day. In contrast, a job that involves a variety of skills may alleviate boredom
and foster greater meaning in our work. Being a college professor may be
meaningful partly because it involves utilizing a variety of skills in advising,
teaching, and research.
Greater skill variety has been found to be associated with greater perceived
meaningfulness of work (e.g., Hackman & Oldham, 1975; Johns, Xie, & Fang,
1992). Skill variety would involve using different talents and skills in a job.
Greater skill variety may foster greater meaning in work because it allows us to
express more aspects of our personality in our work. It may also increase
meaning because it reduces boredom. (1)
These correlational findings do no allow us to make causal conclusions.
Nonetheless, it may be good for companies to design jobs with significant skill
variety. Companies could have diverse jobs.
1. Skill variety is one factor in the job characteristics model that influences the
experienced meaningfulness of work. See Hackman and Oldman (1980) for a
description of the job characteristics model.
Hackman, J. R., & Oldham, G. R. (1975). Development of the job diagnostic
survey. Journal of Applied Psychology, 60, 159-170.
Hackman, J. R., & Oldham, G. R. (1980). Work redesign. Reading, MA:
Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.
Johns, G., Xie, J. L., & Fang, Y. (1992). Mediating and moderating effects in
job design. Journal of Management, 18, 657-676.