The JD-R Model

In the JD-R Model, the 'JD' refers to job demands, while the 'R' refers to resources. The idea behind this model is all about making sure managers and leaders within an organization have everything they need to meet the demands of their job. Despite the fact that managers are often in some of the most high-stress positions within an organization, this model promotes the theory that much of that stress can be taken away when monitored properly.

In this context, the researchers of this study (Bakker and Demerouti) are using the word 'resources' to highlight the positive aspects of the job that counteract the stress that the demanding part of the job place on the individual. For example, if a manager has a high level of responsibility and faces many time-sensitive deadlines, they may also need some additional time away from the office or another perk to balance out that stressful demand. This kind of give and take relationship within the model can take on many different real-world manifestations.

The JD-R Model

The visual representation of this model is divided up into four quadrants, each of which demonstrates a different state for the manager in question depending on the resources and demands that they are experiencing.

Low Demands/Low Resources
In the bottom left quadrant, we find the employee who isn't being asked to do too much, but also doesn't have much to feel rewarded by. They certainly aren't overworked at this point in time, but they also might be suffering from a lack of motivation due to the low level of resources available to them. Getting burned out isn't a fear at this point in the model, but high levels of performance seem unlikely.

High Demands/Low Resources
This is probably the worst position to find yourself in throughout the entire model. At this point, the employee is dealing with a great number of stresses - things like tight deadlines, a shrinking budget, conflict with others, etc. However, they aren't receiving the resources they need to counteract this problem and get it corrected quickly. A person in this position is very likely to burn out, and may just quit completely due to too much stress. Every organization should strive to avoid placing their employees or managers in this quadrant of the model.

The JD-R Model Matrix

Low Demands/High Resources
On the opposite side of the coin, this is likely the best place to find yourself within the model. This employee has everything they need to get their job done correctly, and they aren't feeling a high level of strain from the pressures of their work. There is no reason that this person shouldn't be feeling content with their job, and motivated to go on and achieve even more. For an organization, getting as many employees as possible into this section of the JD-R Model is the ideal outcome.

High Demands/High Resources
Finding yourself in this spot is not the worst thing that can happen at work, but you might be feeling the strain of all of your job stress anyway. People who are at this point on the model are likely to be somewhat stressed, yet they still may be happy with their job because of all the resources they have available to them - and the opportunities that could still be to come. Even though they can be feeling the pressure, most people in this situation are still highly motivated because they can see the possibility of better things coming down the road.

Every employee within an organization should be able to be fit into one of those four categories above. The more people who feel like they have plenty of resources and relatively low demands that are within the business, the better off that business is likely to be. A high stress, low resource work environment is the worst possible case, and that organization will likely see plenty of turnover as employees look for better opportunities.

Making a Change
When a company does find that many of their employees feel they are in the high demand/low resource portion of the grid, there are some steps that can be taken to alleviate the problem. The first is to determine why the employees feel the level of stress that they do, and what can be done about it. While some stress comes along with working, too much can be a damaging thing for both the individual, and the company. Upper management should look at ways to reduce these stresses so that the majority of employees feel better about their situation.

Some of the things that could be causing high levels of stress include not giving employees enough time to finish their work, not providing any opportunities for advancement or raises, or simply not providing work that is interesting or challenging in some way. An organization might not be able to remove all of these issues, but even addressing them and working with the employees together to improve conditions can go a long way.

Of course, the other end of the spectrum is providing employees with more resources to counter those stresses that they do deal with. There are a number of ways in which this can be done. Some of those include providing plenty of training and job support from higher ranking managers, more freedom to do the work as the employee sees fit, and better advancement opportunities that provide a clear career path. You will likely find that some of these options work great to motivate and help some employees, while other employees are interested in different resources. Only by offering a range of resources and benefits to your team members will you be able to get all of the employees the assistance they need.

Keeping everyone within your organization happy and motivated is a lofty goal, but a worthwhile one at the same time. Any business is only as good as the people that it employs, and your people are only going to be at their best when they feel comfortable with their roles and supported by the organization. Give them what they need to succeed, and they will usually reward you with excellent performance.

You may also be interested in:
Mintzberg's Management Roles | Lencioni's Five Dysfunctions of a Team | Birkinshaw's Four Dimensions of Management | Waldroop and Butler's Six Problem Behaviors | Cog's Ladder | Leader-Member Exchange Theory | Belbin's Team Roles | Benne and Sheats' Group Roles | Margerison-McCann Team Management Profile | The JD-R Model.

Key Points

  • The Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) Model states that when job demands are high and job resources/positives are low, then both stress and burnout increase.
  • The effects of high job demands can be offset by increasing the positive aspects of the job.
  • Identify and promote the job positives that act as a buffer between your team members and the demands of their roles.
  • These can include: Mentoring or coaching, training and development, regular constructive feedback, and increased autonomy.
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