High demand-Low control
Karasek's High Demand-Low Control Model defines high stress, unhealthy jobs as those with low control and high demand conditions.
Low control conditions include de-skilled labour and reduced decision making autonomy. Employees in this position are not given the leeway to make decisions regarding their work or work environment. They also do not have the opportunity to learn new skills on the job or problem solve.
High demand conditions include inadequate time to meet job demands and excessive workload. When asked about their workload, employees in high demand situations often say, "I work very fast and/or hard," and, "There is not enough time to get the job done."
Karasek defines jobs and their associated stress levels by their particular demand-control combination (Schnall, 1998).
Karasek's Job Demand-Control Model
Active jobs, in the upper right quadrant, have high demands BUT also high levels of control. These challenging jobs lead to active learning and motivation to develop new behavior patterns.
High strain jobs, in the lower right quadrant, have high demands AND low control. These jobs have a high risk of psychological strain and physical illness.
The 4 psychosocial categories of work:
These jobs are defined by low decision making latitude, and high physical and/or psychological demands. The workplace is often rigid and inflexible in both environment and policy, thus workers are unable to take actions in order to control their environment and cope with the stress. As expected, these jobs lead to high levels of mental and physical illness among employees. Example jobs include garment stitcher, waitress, nurses aid, and mail worker.
These jobs are defined by low decision making latitude, and low work demand. It often includes irrelevant, unchallenging, and unskilled work that is unsatisfying for the employee leading to apathy and boredom. These jobs also lead to high levels of mental and physical illness among employees. Example jobs include janitor, miner, and watchman.
These jobs are defined by few psychological demands and a high level of control in the workplace. As expected, workers have higher than average levels of health and happiness. Example jobs include natural scientist, lineman, and architect.
These highly demanding jobs offer employees challenging work in environments of great flexibility and latitude. The ability to constantly learn new skills in an environment that provides the leeway to problem solve enables these employees to reduce levels of stress and maintain high levels of health. Example jobs include engineer, physician, and teacher.
Click on the above tabs to learn more about each type of job.
How does your job rank?
To find out what category of occupation you are currently working in visit Karasek's Occupational Distribution by Job Demand-Job Control graph.
If you are working in a job that is neither active nor low strain, you are probably experiencing levels of stress that are affecting your psychological and physical health!
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