Our Publications Highlights of 2021

Updated: Jan 5



2021 has been an eventful year, particularly in improving work for everyone and accelerating digital innovation.


As we are approaching the end of the year, we are reflecting on the work we have completed to better understand the critical role that work plays in all our futures. Here are some of the publications we'd like to highlight.



1. Can high-quality jobs help workers learn new tricks? A multi-disciplinary review of work design for cognition (Parker, Ward & Fisher, 2021)


How can workers of all ages maintain their cognitive performance throughout their careers?


Director at the Centre for Transformative Work Design (part of Future of Work Institute) Professor Sharon Parker, together with Dr MK Ward and Dr Gwen Fisher conducted a multi-disciplinary review on the role of work design in helping people remain cognitively healthy as they age.


Citation: Parker, S. K., Ward, M. K., & Fisher, G. G. (2021). Can high-quality jobs help workers learn new tricks? A multi-disciplinary review of work design for cognition. Academy of Management Annals. https://doi.org/10.5465/annals.2019.0057 (ABDC A* journal)


In response to this challenge, Professor Sharon Parker developed the SMART work design model, a unifying model that empowers employees and managers alike to design meaningful and motivating work. The five key themes for SMART work are: Stimulating, Mastery, Agency, Relational, and Tolerable Demands. To learn more, click here.



2. Investigating the joint effects of overload and underload on chronic fatigue and wellbeing (Cham et al., 2021)



Workers in safety critical and 24-hour operating environments face sustained exposure to many stressful situations, ranging from long periods of monotony and boredom, to sudden periods of intense time pressure.


With our Research Fellow Belinda Cham, PhD as lead author, researchers at the Future of Work Institute, Australian Maritime Safety Authority and University of Queensland examine how the combination of overload and underload contributes to fatigue and wellbeing in 943 seafarers.


Citation: Cham, B., Andrei, D., Griffin, M., Grech, M. and Neal, A. (2021). Investigating the joint effects of overload and underload on chronic fatigue and wellbeing. Work & Stress, 35(4), pp.344-357.


The FOWI work systems design team's research on submariner endurance was shortlisted for the 2021 Defence Science and Technology Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia. To learn more, watch the short video here.


3. How work design interventions affect performance: An evidence-based model from a systematic review (Knight & Parker, 2019)



The evidence that well-designed work promotes health and well-being is strong, but is well-designed work better for performance? This question is important - if work design positively affects performance, this means that designing better work is an important tool for achieving more effective and profitable organisations.


Lead author and Research Fellow at the Centre for Transformative Work Design (CTWD), Dr Caroline Knight and CTWD Director Professor Sharon Parker synthesise their findings into an integrative multilevel model that can be used to design, implement, and evaluate work redesigns aimed at improving performance.


Citation: Knight, C., & Parker, S. K., (2019). How work design interventions affect performance: An evidence-based model from a systematic review. Human relations.



4. How does future work need to be designed for optimal engagement? (Gagné, Parker and Griffin, 2021)



In this book chapter, John Curtin Distinguished Professors Marylène Gagné, Mark Griffin and Sharon Parker propose a framework based on the integration of three theories (SMART work design, self-determination theory and work role performance theory) to explain how changes in work design influence work engagement and work performance in contexts of increasing technology, uncertainty and interconnectedness. This framework that can guide research on the effects of redesigning work to ensure workers will thrive in the future of work.


Citation: Gagné, M., Parker, S. and Griffin, M. (2021). How does future work need to be designed for optimal engagement?. A Research Agenda for Employee Engagement in a Changing World of Work, pp.137-153.



5. Job crafting towards strengths and job crafting towards interests in overqualified employees: Different outcomes and boundary effects (Zhang, Wang, Qian & Parker, 2021)




Job crafting is defined as self-initiated behaviours that employees make to their jobs to better fit their abilities, needs, and preferences.


In response to the call to investigate the positive side of overqualification, our Research Fellow Dr Fangfang Zhang, Dr Bin Wang, Associate Professor Jian Qing and Professor Sharon Parker drew on the job crafting perspective to theorize that overqualified employees can proactively regulate the discrepancies between their actual and ideal jobs via two different job crafting strategies: job crafting towards strengths (JC-strengths) and job crafting towards interests (JC-interests).


Citation: Zhang, F., Wang, B., Qian, J., & Parker, S. K. (2021). Job crafting towards strengths and job crafting towards interests in overqualified employees: Different outcomes and boundary effects. Journal of Organizational Behavior. https://doi.org/10.1002/job.2517 (ABDC A* journal)