A key factor for human-centred work design
The job characteristic "job control" comprises the employee's possibilities to influence how they organize and perform their tasks. This is of central significance for mental health. Numerous studies have shown that too little job control is associated with several health impairments.
Job control incorporates degrees of freedom at work. For example, the freedom to determine how employees schedule their tasks, what approach they choose to fulfil their daily work, what work tools they use or what work-related goals they set and follow. The essential feature of job control is to have influence on how work is done and to make own decisions.
If a person is convinced that she or he is in charge or in control, and is able to manage a situation, this is a significant resource for mental health. If the opposite is the case, that is if someone has little or no possibility to determine how to tackle responsibilities and tasks, overload, stress and, in the long run, depression or anxiety can be the consequences.
These associations also apply in the working context. Job control therefore is one of the key factors in work design when it comes to mental health at work. It is therefore anchored in both international and European standards (DIN EN ISO 6385:2004, DIN EN ISO 9241-210, and DIN EN 614-2), as well as being addressed in the "Recommendations for implementing psychosocial risk assessment" (Empfehlungen zur Umsetzung der Gefährdungsbeurteilung psychischer Belastung) adopted under the umbrella of the Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Strategy (Gemeinsame Deutsche Arbeitsschutzstrategie, GDA).
As far as work design in organisations is concerned, it currently can be noted that