The work compatibility improvement framework: Defining and measuring the human-at-work system

Ash Genaidy, Waldemar Karwowski, Sam Salem, Judy Jarrell, Omar Paez, Setenay Tuncel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This article is one in a series of articles demonstrating the foundations of the work compatibility model (WCM) as an engineering approach to improve human performance in organizations. Previous work has concentrated on defining the core elements that constitute the model, moving beyond constructs of work stress and job satisfaction. In this article, the work environment is explained in terms of protective and risk effects that comprise both physical and nonphysical elements (e.g., psychosocial, organizational, cultural, and financial). The authors introduce the first two phases of the work compatibility improvement framework (WCIF) based on the DMAIC (define-measure-analyze-improve-control) cycle, that is, "define" and "measure." The objective is to identify the elements that constitute the human-at-work system and explain how the work compatibility model characterizes the system to obtain the compatibility indices (i.e., performance measures of the system). A cross-sectional feasibility study was conducted of three small manufacturers, which measured the work environment characteristics and the health status of the respondents. Two measurement methods were proposed to measure the compatibility level: a discrete transformation with one index and a continuous transformation with two indices (yield ratio and efficiency ratio). Demand and energizer levels showed significant differences across work environment domains. The two compatibility indices also show some differences as each method is sensitive to different variance causes. For company A, a descriptive analysis relating the compatibility indices and disorder cases shows that there is an increase in the number of musculoskeletal and stress disorder cases for low-compatibility levels. The trend shown by musculoskeletal disorders and compatibility indices is consistent with the assertion that higher compatibility level will decrease the likelihood of musculoskeletal and stress disorders in the workplace. The WCM is a worthwhile concept that should be further tested to understand the etiologic interaction between work environment characteristics and the health status of the people in the organization. The identification of discrete and continuous performance indices shows that is it feasible to provide measures that comprise multiple elements of the work environment and can be related to health outcomes. In subsequent research, such a relationship will be statistically tested to understand the underlying effects that relate physical and nonphysical factors (analyze), and a systematic tool will be devised to set action plans and improve the current states (improve). A tracking tool would be put in place to ensure that the improvements are sustainable (control).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-226
Number of pages64
JournalHuman Factors and Ergonomics In Manufacturing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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