What makes a job “good”?

A lot depends on your organization, who works there, and what you offer that is meaningful to your employees.

Recently, several national organizations have worked with employers and stakeholders to develop frameworks for what constitutes a quality job. These models define important components that go into a job that benefits employees, their families, your organization, and our community.


These models can be used as a menu of options as you consider changes to how you structure your jobs. We encourage you to talk with your employees about what matters most to them and to focus on changes in one or two areas at a time. Then measure the success of your efforts in reducing turnover, increasing productivity, and achieving your business’ goals to see if a particular strategy has an impact.

Read below for a summary of each model and find links to explore these models further. 

National Fund’s Job Design Framework

The National Fund researches and promotes hiring, training, and workforce practices that improve a firm’s competitiveness and job quality. The Job Design Framework includes three pillars with a menu of options under each pillar:

Foundational – Basic elements of a job
  • COMPENSATION: wages and benefits; financial incentives; employee loans; access within pay period.
  • FUNDAMENTALS: safety; fairness; respect; job security; and grievance procedure
  • STRUCTURE: open communication; and stable hours and scheduling

Support – Assistance to perform job well and achieve stability outside of the workplace

  • TRAINING: entry level and specialized
  • INTERNAL ASSISTANCE: supervisory training; job coaching; peer mentors; team development; and financial counseling
  • EXTERNAL LINKAGES: tax credits; child care; transportation; and HR services

Opportunity – support to help advance in career and develop as individuals

  • CAREER DEVELOPMENT: cross training; advancement; and educational benefits
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT: internal and external recognition; and leveling of perks
  • ENGAGEMENT: participation/self-management; representation/mattering; pride; and ownership

Learn more about this model.

Aspen Institute’s Good Jobs Strategy

The Aspen Institute's framework defines how a good job needs to meet people's basic needs, as well as offer conditions for engagement and motivation. It encourages businesses to consider efforts in these areas:

WORK PROVIDES BASIC NEEDS
  • PAY & BENEFITS: Fair for the work and compared to others, meets needs
  • SCHEDULES: Stable and predictable schedules, adequate hours
  • CAREER PATH: Clear and fair advancement to higher pay
  • SECURITY & SAFETY: Keep job if perform well, safe conditions
WORK MEETS HIGHER NEEDS
  • MEANINGFULNESS: Work itself and significance to customer
  • PERSONAL GROWTH: Learning, creativity, problem solving
  • BELONGING: Team, pride for working at the company, mutual respect
  • ACHIEVEMENT: Have autonomy, tools, time, and resources to do great work
  • RECOGNITION: High expectations, feedback from others and job

Learn more about this approach.

Pacific Community Ventures’ Facets of a Good Quality Job

Pacific Community Ventures focuses on helping small businesses create jobs that boost their bottom line. It defines a quality job as offering at least three of the five following key elements:

  • A living wage to support a decent standard of living
  • Basic benefits to increase economic security and improve quality of life
  • Career-building opportunities to advance along a path
  • Wealth-building opportunities to build assets and manage financial emergencies
  • A fair and engaging workplace that balances employee needs with the business needs

Learn more about their approach and find tools to help you in your work.

Explore the model that works best for you and strategies within areas that you could improve or expand. 

Find strategies

TAGS: Thriving Workforce

About The Author: Pat Steele

Pat Steele is the Director of Central Iowa Works.