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Job Resources for Job Demands

Supply and demand applies to people doing the work too. What are the most important job resources? Here's what the research says...

A job resource is anything that makes you feel equipped to handle the demands of your job.

Job resources are aspects of the job or work environment that people use to meet work demands. The most commonly-studied job resources are:

  • Social Support - being able to ask coworkers for information, assistance, encouragement
  • Supervisor Relationship Quality - interacting with a boss based on mutual trust, respect, emotional support, and reciprocal influence
  • Autonomy - having freedom to decide how to do the job.
  • Workplace Learning - Having opportunities to learn new skills and experiment1,3,6,8.

A job demand is any aspect of a job that requires sustained mental, interactional, or physical effort.

Job demands are things like: time pressure, work overload, role ambiguity, complex problem solving, and sustained attention. Job demands can be chronic (e.g., sitting for long periods) or temporary (e.g., technology breakdowns). Overwhelmingly high job demands can lead to burnout, exhaustion, and health issues.

Job resources buffer the impact of high job demands, making it possible for difficult jobs to be engaging and motivating1,4,9.

High job resources = motivated and engaged people. Especially when job demands are also high.

When people feel well-equipped with lots of job resources, we are more motivated to take on demanding challenges. High job resources link to initiative-taking, innovation, and work engagement.

When demands and resources are both high, engagement is highest. The point is not to reduce job demands and increase job resources. Rather, match high job demands with high job resources. Promote strong relationships and information flow among peers and supervisors. Offer autonomy and control over work process2,4,5.

Learn more about the interplay between job resources and challenging job demands:

When resources are low, health and performance suffer.

When job resources are not sufficient, people are ill-equipped to handle job demands. The ensuing overwhelm leads to stress, strain, health issues, burnout, and turnover.

Even in jobs that aren't very demanding, low resources link to low motivation, which precludes innovation and improvement1,4,5.

Having lots of job resources leads to acquiring more job resources.

Having job resources makes it easier to acquire additional job resources (e.g., having a good relationship with your supervisor makes it easier to ask for new equipment).

The positive feeling of being engaged in work leads people to "broaden and build" by actively expanding work relationships and resource networks1,5,7.

Job resources filter through personal resources.

A personal resource is something about you that equips you to handle job demands. Personal resources are things like: self-esteem, optimism, and especially self-efficacy.

If the work environment provides a lot of resources, self-efficacy can increase, leading to stronger innovation or performance outcomes.

But when personal self-efficacy levels are typically low, increases in job resources may have a limited impact9.

Control (autonomy) is the most powerful job resource.

High discretion over how work gets done empowers people to handle higher job demands.

In contrast, high job demands coupled with low autonomy diminishes personal control and leads to the greatest strain and most severe negative outcomes1,6.


  1. Bakker, A. B., & Demerouti, E. (2007). The job demands‐resources model: State of the art. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 22(3), 309–328.
  2. Bakker, A. B., Hakanen, J. J., Demerouti, E., & Xanthopoulou, D. (2007). Job resources boost work engagement, particularly when job demands are high. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99(2), 274–284.
  3. Bakker, A., Demerouti, E., & Schaufeli, W. (2003). Dual processes at work in a call centre: An application of the job demands – resources model. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 12(4), 393–417.
  4. Crawford, E. R., LePine, J. A., & Rich, B. L. (2010). Linking job demands and resources to employee engagement and burnout: A theoretical extension and meta-analytic test. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(5), 834–848.
  5. Hakanen, J. J., Perhoniemi, R., & Toppinen-Tanner, S. (2008). Positive gain spirals at work: From job resources to work engagement, personal initiative and work-unit innovativeness. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 73(1), 78–91.
  6. Karasek, R. A. (1979). Job demands, job decision latitude, and mental strain: Implications for job redesign. Administrative Science Quarterly, 24(2), 285.
  7. Llorens, S., Schaufeli, W., Bakker, A., & Salanova, M. (2007). Does a positive gain spiral of resources, efficacy beliefs and engagement exist? Computers in Human Behavior, 23(1), 825–841.
  8. Van Ruysseveldt, J., Verboon, P., & Smulders, P. (2011). Job resources and emotional exhaustion: The mediating role of learning opportunities. Work & Stress, 25(3), 205–223.
  9. Xanthopoulou, D., Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2009). Reciprocal relationships between job resources, personal resources, and work engagement. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 74(3), 235–244.
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