Job Enrichment, a job design technique that varies the concept of job enlargement. Job enrichment adds new sources of job satisfaction by increasing the level of responsibility of the employee in organization.
While job enlargement is considered as horizontal restructuring method, job enrichment is considered as vertical restructuring method of moral excellence of giving the employee additional authority, autonomy, and control over the way the job is accomplished. Also called job enhancement or vertical job expansion.
Job Enrichment is an attempt to motivate employees by giving them the opportunity to use the range of their abilities. It is an idea that was developed by the American psychologist Frederick Hertzberg in the 1950s. It can be contrasted to job enlargement which simply increases the number of tasks without changing the challenge. As such job enrichment has been described as ‘vertical loading’ of a job, while job enlargement is ‘horizontal loading’. An enriched job should ideally contain:
- A range of tasks and challenges of varying difficulties (Physical or Mental)
- A complete unit of work a meaningful task
- Feedback, encouragement and communication
Job enrichment is a type of job redesign intended to reverse the effects of tasks that are repetitive requiring little autonomy. Some of these effects are boredom, lack of flexibility, and employee dissatisfaction (Leach & Wall, 2004). The underlying principle is to expand the scope of the job with a greater variety of tasks, vertical in nature, that require self-sufficiency. Since the goal is to give the individual exposure to tasks normally reserved for differently focused or higher positions, merely adding more of the same responsibilities related to an employee’s current position is not considered job enrichment.
Job enrichment has its roots in Frederick Herzberg’s two-factor theory, according to which two separate dimensions contribute to an employee’s behavior at work.
- The first dimension, known as hygiene factors, involves the presence or absence of job dis-satisfactors, such as wages, working environment, rules and regulations, and supervisors. When these factors are poor, work is dissatisfying and employees are not motivated. However, having positive hygiene factors does not cause employees to be motivated; it simply keeps them from being dissatisfied.
- The second dimension of Herzberg’s theory refers to motivators, which are factors that satisfy higher-level needs such as recognition for doing a good job, achievement, and the opportunity for growth and responsibility. These motivators are what actually increase job satisfaction and performance. Job enrichment becomes an important strategy at this point because enriching employees’ jobs can help meet some of their motivational needs. There are basically five areas that are believed to affect an individual employee’s motivation and job performance: skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback. Job enrichment seeks to find positive ways to address each of these areas and therefore improve employee motivation and personal satisfaction.
Skill variety involves the number of different types of skills that are used to do a job. This area is important because using only one skill to do the same task repeatedly can be quite boring, typically causing the employee’s productivity to decrease after a period of time. However, using a variety of skills in a job will tend to keep the employee more interested in the job and more motivated.
One way businesses are focusing on this area is through job rotation, that is, moving employees from job to job within the company, thereby allowing employees a variety of tasks in their work and helping prevent boredom. While this process can be costly to the company because employees must be trained in several different areas, the cost tends to be balanced by the increase in morale and productivity. Job rotation also gives each employee the opportunity to see how the different jobs of a company fit together and gives the company more flexibility in covering tasks when workers are absent. However, while job rotation is a good way to enrich employees’ jobs, it can also hinder performance: Having to know several different jobs in order to rotate, can prevent employees from becoming proficient at any of the jobs. Therefore, the advantages and disadvantages of job rotation as an enrichment strategy have to be carefully weighed.
Task identity is a matter of realizing a visible outcome from performing a task. Being able to see the end result of the work they do is an important motivator for employees. One way to make task identity clearer is through job enlargement, which means adding more tasks and responsibilities to an existing job. For example, instead of building just one component part of a humidifier, a team of employees builds the entire product from start to finish. When using job enlargement as an enrichment strategy, it is important that enlarging the job gives the employee more responsibility and more variety, not just more work.
Task significance involves how important the task is to others in the company, which is important in showing employees how the work they do fits in with that done in the rest of the organization. If employees can see how their work affects others, it will be a motivator to do the best job they can.
Many companies take new employees on a tour of the company and provide training sessions on how each part of the company works together with the other parts. In order to accept and handle responsibility, it is important that employees know how the various areas of the company work together; without this knowledge, it is very difficult for them to handle decision-making responsibilities. Putting employees from different areas of the company into planning teams can also help them see the significance of the tasks they perform.
Autonomy involves the degree of freedom, independence, and decision-making ability the employee has in completing assigned tasks. Most people like to be given responsibility; it demonstrates trust and helps motivate employees to live up to that trust. Responsibility can also help speed up work processes by enabling the employee to make decisions without having to wait for management approval. Autonomy is a very important part of job enrichment because it gives the employee power and a feeling of importance.
A type of job enrichment that restructures work to best match the employee to the job is job redesign. Job redesign can focus on combining existing jobs, forming work groups, and/or allowing closer contact between employees and individual suppliers or customers. The idea behind job redesign is to match employees with a job they like and are best qualified to perform. Self-managed teams are a type of job design whereby employees are grouped into teams and given certain guidelines to follow as well as goals to accomplish—and then left alone to accomplish those goals. Self-managed teams demonstrate the company’s faith in the employees and give employees a feeling of power and pride in the work they accomplish.
Feedback describes how much and what type of information about job performance is received by the employee. It is one of the most important areas for motivation. Without feedback, employees have no way of knowing whether they are doing things correctly or incorrectly. Positive feedback helps to motivate employees by recognizing the efforts they have put into their work. While monetary rewards for doing a good job can be a strong incentive, sometimes saying “you did a really good job on that project” can mean just as much. Corrective feedback is also important because it lets employees know what areas need improvement.
Job Enrichment Options
The central focus of job enrichment is giving people more control over their work (lack of control is a key cause of stress, and therefore of unhappiness.) Where possible, allow them to take on tasks that are typically done by supervisors. This means that they have more influence over planning, executing, and evaluating the jobs they do.
In enriched jobs, people complete activities with increased freedom, independence, and responsibility. They also receive plenty of feedback, so that they can assess and correct their own performance.
Here are some strategies you can use to enrich jobs in your workplace:
Give people the opportunity to use a variety of skills, and perform different kinds of work. The most common way to do this is through job rotation. Move your workers through a variety of jobs that allow them to see different parts of the organization learn different skills and acquire different experiences. This can be very motivating, especially for people in jobs that are very repetitive or that focus on only one or two skills.
Combine work activities to provide a more challenging and complex work assignment. This can significantly increase “task identity” because people see a job through from start to finish. This allows workers to use a wide variety of skills, which can make the work seem more meaningful and important. For example, you can convert an assembly line process, in which each person does one task, into a process in which one person assembles a whole unit. You can apply this model wherever you have people or groups that typically perform only one part of an overall process. Consider expanding their roles to give them responsibility for the entire process, or for a bigger part of that process.
Focused Work Units Break your typical functional lines and form project-focused units. For example, rather than having all of your marketing people in one department, with supervisors directing who works on which project, you could split the department into specialized project units specific storyboard creators, copywriters, and designers could all work together for one client or one campaign. Allowing employees to build client relationships is an excellent way to increase autonomy, task identity, and feedback.
Create Autonomous Work Teams
This is job enrichment at the group level. Set a goal for a team, and make team members free to determine work assignments, schedules, rest breaks, evaluation parameters, and the like. You may even give them influence over choosing their own team members. With this method, you’ll significantly cut back on supervisory positions, and people will gain leadership and management skills.
Implement Participative Management
Allow team members to participate in decision making and get involved in strategic planning. This is an excellent way to communicate to members of your team that their input is important. It can work in any organization – from a very small company, with an owner/boss who’s used to dictating everything, to a large company with a huge hierarchy. When people realize that what they say is valued and makes a difference, they’ll likely be motivated.
Redistribute Power and Authority
Redistribute control and grant more authority to workers for making job-related decisions. As supervisors delegate more authority and responsibility, team members’ autonomy, accountability, and task identity will increase.
Increase Employee-Directed Feedback
Make sure that people know how well, or poorly, they’re performing their jobs. The more control you can give them for evaluating and monitoring their own performance, the more enriched their jobs will be. Rather than have your quality control department go around and point out mistakes, consider giving each team responsibility for their own quality control. Workers will receive immediate feedback, and they’ll learn to solve problems, take initiative, and make decisions.
Implementing a Job Enrichment Program
Step One Find out where people are dissatisfied with their current work assignments. There’s little point to enriching jobs and changing the work environment if you’re enriching the wrong jobs and making the wrong changes. Like any motivation initiative, determine what your people want before you begin.
Surveys are a good means of doing this. Don’t make the mistake of presuming that you know what people want: Go to the source and use that information to build your enrichment options.
Step Two Consider which job enrichment options you can provide. You don’t need to drastically redesign your entire work process. The way that you design the enriched jobs must strike a balance between operational need and job satisfaction. If significant changes are needed, consider establishing a “job enrichment task force” perhaps use a cross-section of employees, and give them responsibility for deciding which enrichment options make the most sense.
Step Three Design and communicate your program. If you’re making significant changes, let people know what you’re doing and why. Work with your managers to create an enriching work environment that includes lots of employee participation and recognition. Remember to monitor your efforts, and regularly evaluate the effectiveness of what you’re providing.
Advantages of job enrichment
Interesting and challenging job
When a certain amount of power is given to employees it makes the job more challenging for them, we can say that job enrichment is a method of employee empowerment.
Improves decision making
Through job enrichment we can improve the decision making ability of the employee by asking him to decide
- Vation speaks of these higher order needs e.g. Ego and esteemed needs, self-actualization etc. These needs can be achieved through job enrichment.
- Reduces work load of superiors
Job enrichment reduces the work load of senior staff. When decisions are taken by juniors the seniors work load is reduced.
Disadvantages of job enrichment
- Job enrichment is based on the assumptions that workers have complete knowledge to take decisions and they have the right attitude. In reality this might not be the case due to which there can be problems in working.
- Job enrichment has negative implications ie. Along with usual work decision making work is also given to the employees and not many may be comfortable with this.
- Superiors may feel that power is being taken away from them and given to the junior’s. This might lead to ego problems.