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Approaches to Job Design

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Everything you need to know about the approaches to job design. Job designing and redesigning have become regular features on an effective organizations strategy charts.

Job rotation, job enlargement, job enrichment are among approaches to design or redesign a job.

Job design refers to the way in which sets of interrelated tasks—leading to a desired and expected outcome—are organized.

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Parker and Wall (1998) have highlighted that while designing jobs, the needs and goals of the employees and the organization need to be considered and aligned.

The main objective of job design is to integrate the employee’s needs with that of organizational requirement.

The approaches to job design are as follows:-

1. Job Enrichment 2. Job Enlargement 3. Job Simplification 4. Job Rotation 5. Traditional Approach 6. Classical or Scientific or Engineering Approach 7. Behavioural Approach.


Approaches to Job Design: Job Enrichment, Job Enlargement, Job Simplification, Job Rotation and a Few Others

Approaches to Job Design – 4 Major Approaches

There is an interaction between job design/redesign and process because accomplishing anything in an organization more often than not requires knowledge of whom to see and how to present an idea to that person. Process refers to how tasks are carried out, and regardless of how the job is designed or redesigned, all workers participate in such processes as decision-making, leadership, communication, motivation, and conflict-resolution, and process is closely related to decision-making.

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It may be necessary to make changes in job design and process in order to meet individual and organizational needs process determination depends on the ways of working and the individual personalities and teams involved. There are key groups who may need to be consulted, e.g., team leaders, and customers; not to do so is likely to minimize or nullify an effective process.

In order to achieve organizational effectiveness, collectively process and people need to be balanced and the search for this stabilization leads to the consideration of the alternative methods of job design. Gaining such a balance is often related to the areas of job satisfaction and job performance.

It is the process of organizing work into the tasks required to perform a specific job. The Human Resource Management has realized the importance of designing a job in terms of productivity and job specification. It reduces monotony, boredom, increased job turnover, absenteeism and job dissatisfaction.

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There are four approaches to job design:

Approach # 1. Job Enrichment:

It is an approach to job design that is based on the assumption that in order to motivate personnel, the job itself must provide opportunities for achievement, recognition, responsibility, advancement and growth. It gives employees more opportunities for autonomy and feedback. It also gives them more responsibilities that require decision making, such as scheduling work, determining quality, etc.

According to Herzberg, an enriched job has eight characteristics.

These features are:

(a) Direct feedback – The evaluation of performance system or immediate feedback to the employees.

(b) New learning – A feeling of growing intellectual among employees.

(c) Client relationship – An employee who serves a client or customer directly has an enriched job.

(d) Scheduling own work – Employees who perform creative work are given the opportunity to schedule their own work.

(e) Unique experience – An enriched job provides unique experience or quality.

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(f) Control over resources – This approach for employee leads to enrichment.

(g) Direct communication authority – An enriched job allows the worker to communicate directly with people.

(h) Personal accountability – A feeling of personal accountability enhancing job enrichment.

Approach # 2. Job Enlargement:

It involves adding more tasks to a job or assignment of varied tasks or duties of the jobs of employees at the same level. According to Herzberg, “job enlargement is simply adding a zero to zero. Zero meaning that one set of boring tasks is simply added to another set of boring tasks. A recent study found that by expanding the scope of job, workers found benefits such as mere satisfaction, reduce boredom, monotony and increased motivation.”

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Enlargement is done only on the horizontal level i.e. the jobs remains the same, but of larger scale than before. According to George Strauss and L.R. Sayles, “Job enlargement implies that instead of assigning one man to each job, a group of men can be assigned to a group of jobs and then allowed to decide for themselves how to organize the work. Such change, permit mere social contact and greater control over the work process.”

Approach # 3. Job Simplification or Work Simplification:

Under this method, the complete job is simplified by breaking down into small sub-parts. Then, each part of the job is assigned to a worker who does the same task over and over again. This is done so that employees who gain proficiency in doing the repetitive task require less training. This will lower down training costs and in turn increases productivity and profit. Time and motion study are generally used for job simplification. However, company may not always be benefited from this technique, as it increases absenteeism and boredom due to repetitive nature of job.

Approach # 4. Job Rotation:

This is one of the methods to reduce boredom which implies moving of employees from one job to another within a working group so that there is some variety and relief from boredom of monotonous jobs. Herzberg characterized this approach as merely substituting “one zero for another zero”.

It is horizontal or lateral transfer, where employees are shifted to another activity to meet the needs of work scheduling. It not only reduces boredom and monotony of job but also increases employee’s skills and knowledge. This method improves the self-image and personal worth of the employee. However, employees who look for more challenging job become frustrated.


Approaches to Job Design – 4 Main Approaches

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Job design refers to the way in which sets of interrelated tasks—leading to a desired and expected outcome—are organized. Parker and Wall (1998) have highlighted that while designing jobs, the needs and goals of the employees and the organization need to be considered and aligned.

Job design refers to the way that tasks are combined to form complete jobs. Job design is the process of determining the specific tasks to be performed, the methods used in performing these tasks and how the job relates to other work in the organization.

When jobs are designed solely with the objective of maximising efficiency and reducing cost, the strategy is apt to boomerang. Workers now expect more from the job than just meeting financial needs. They also desire achievement, growth, recognition and self-fulfilment.

The main objective of job design is to integrate the employee’s needs with that of organizational requirement. Employees needs like job satisfaction; challenge, achievement etc., are to be integrated with organizational requirements like high productivity, quality of work, technical efficiency etc. In order to achieve these objectives jobs are being redesigned.

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It requires a stepwise diagnosis of a job to deal with the following issues with a view to getting a total picture about what would be needed to effectively perform a given task –

i. Task to be performed (content);

ii. How they are to be performed (method and mechanism);

iii. How many actions are to be performed within the task (steps involved);

iv. In what order the actions have to be done (sequencing); and

v. The knowledge skills and attitudes required to perform the task efficiently and effectively (optimum performance).

Thus, job design is defined as the process of defining the content of a job in terms of its duties and responsibilities; the methods, techniques and systems, and procedures for carrying out the job; and the relationships that should exist between the job holder and his superiors, subordinates, and colleagues.

An important objective of job design is to meet organiza­tional requirements of productivity, quality of production, and to satisfy individual job-related needs by integrating them with organizational requirements.

Job design takes into account all factors that affect work perfor­mance. It precisely defines the job content and the activities required to be undertaken so that an employee develops confidence to effectively perform the job, once he has been equipped to carry out the same.

In this we can come across the following approaches like:

1. Job simplification,

2. Job rotation,

3. Job enlargement, and

4. Job enrichment.

1. Job Simplification:

A particular job is simplified into various parts and assigned to one individual for piecemeal execution. Thus, it becomes more simple while executing.

Work specification involves the following steps:

i) Mechanical pacing of work

ii) Repetitive work process

iii) Concentrating on only one part of a product by a specific individual.

iv) Pre-planning of tools and techniques.

v) Interaction with workers is restricted.

vi) A few skills are required by the individual.

2. Job Rotation:

This means changing an employee for one job to another. Jobs are not actually changed; only the workers are rotated for different jobs. An employee is changed from one job to another for a few hours, days or months and then he is brought back to his original job. This method of change makes consider­able change in the skills of the employee on various work systems and methods.

This also helps the employee’s monotony in working on a particular job for a long time. It helps the employees to meet any contingencies as and when needed. How­ever, this practice is not to be carried out quite often, as it has adverse effect on the employees and the organisation as well.

3. Job Enlargement:

This indicates the expansion of a number of duties or tasks of different nature. It is not mandatory to add more tasks. It does not mean that new skills are needed to perform the task. There is only horizontal expansion. This process can reduce monotony and can lead to increase the wages and quality of production may lead to increase organisational efficiency.

4. Job Enrichment:

This mainly makes works based on two principles— (i) task efficiency and (ii) human satisfaction. It creates people’s job with greater scope for personal achievement like individual advancement and growth. Vertical enrich­ment provides more variety of tasks and more growth opportunities. In this a worker assumes responsibility of a supervisor and performs planning, instructing, control­ling and supervising. More variety of complex tasks are executed by him.

Salient Points in Achievement of Job:

i) Creating a natural work

ii) Providing sufficient duties requiring various skills for each job.

iii) Vertical job loading is to planning, supervising and job controlling responsibili­ties.

iv) Feedback communication system is provided to employees to correct and improve their performance.


Approaches to Job Design Job Rotation, Job Enlargement and Job Enrichment

Job designing and redesigning have become regular features on an effective organizations strategy charts. Job rotation, job enlargement, job enrichment are among approaches to design or redesign a job. Group design options are also practiced in organizations to instil more co-ordination and effectiveness in the process of job designing.

1. Job Rotation:

In order to curb the monotony and boredom creeping up in a job employees are rotated from one job to another for specific periods of time. This approach increases employee skills and duties and also makes the work set-up more flexible. But understandably so, it cannot be practiced for all white or blue collar jobs.

2. Job Enlargement:

By horizontally loading a job one tends to increase the variety in duties for a worker. This enlargement in job increases the diversity, however, it may not always be perceived like that by employees who may consider it to be additional burden.

3. Job Enrichment:

Jobs can also be diversified vertically by adding more meaning, control, responsibility and depth. This is referred to as job enrichment. The approach usually results in an increase in quality and quantity of performance.

Work Teams:

A group of workers is given a large task to complete and the team members are responsible for deciding on specific task assignments. Not only solving the presented problems but also constant improvement of the activities related with work. The work team members can also rotate tasks among themselves. The supervisor must concentrate on coaching and training while keeping the team’s focus in line with the goals of the entire organization.

Although a team approach is an efficient way to meet the needs of large, competitive firms, it requires a fundamental redesign of the entire organization. Thus, it is most surprising that a survey of 476 large companies by the U. S. General Accounting Officer shows that while 27 percent were using work teams, these teams usually involved fewer than one fifth of the employees.

Work teams are also infested with problems – managers may feel that work teams dilute their powers, if work teams are big, smaller interest groups may develop within.

Autonomous Work Groups:

Autonomous work groups are a socio-technical approach to work design. A work group is made responsible for the job and balancing the social and technical approach to work design. A work group is made responsible for the job and balancing the social and technical aspects of the job.

The management gives enough control to the work groups to control over work assignment, rest breaks, prioritizing, and inspection procedures, some even have the freedom to choose members. This group approach can be thought of as an extension of individual job enrichment to group level.

The most widely publicized use of autonomous work groups occurred at the Volvo Automobile Plant in Sweden – which reportedly resulted in lower turnover, absenteeism and production costs.

Quality Circles:

The concept of quality circles focuses on maintaining and enhancing the quality of a product. Japan is the most extensive user of quality circles. A typical quality circle is a group of employees and supervisors meeting at regular intervals to discuss quality related problems and solution, thereby, also focus on production and co-ordination problems.

Care should be taken that quality related problems and solution, thereby, also focuses on production and co-ordination problems. Care should be taken that quality circles meetings do not result in problems discussion of work environment, salary etc.


Approaches to Job Design – 3 Important Approaches

According to Michael Armstrong, “job design is the process of deciding on the contents of a job in terms of its duties and responsibilities, on the method to be used in carrying out the job, in terms of technique, systems and procedure and on the relationships that should exist between the job holder and superiors, subordinates and colleagues.”

The following are the important approaches to job design:

1. Traditional Approach:

Under this approach duties and responsibilities of the organization are allocated on the basis of common practice and tradition and hence the procedure of recruitment, selection and fixation of remuneration are simplified.

2. Classical or Scientific or Engineering Approach:

This approach was developed by Dr. F. W. Taylor and his associates. According to this approach principles of Scientific Management developed by Dr. Taylor is the basis for designing the job in various organizations. These principles focus on planning, standardizing and improving human efforts to maximize productivity.

Scientific management offers the following principles for job design:

(a) Task fragmentation means breaking the task in to small manageable units to improve the efficiency.

(b) Optimization of technology through scientific study and analysis

(c) Standardization through time and motion study

(d) Specialization – Selection of workers should made on the basis of their specialization

(e) Training – Workers who are selected are trained to enable them to work efficiently

(f) Responsibility – Each worker is individually responsible for completion of the work assigned.

(g) Incentives – Monetary incentives are to be used for rewarding the best performance.

3. Behavioural Approach:

This approach is based on the findings of Elton Mayo, Frederick Herzberg and other human relation experts. The main focus of this approach is on job redesign, work structuring, job enrichment, participative system etc. The approach also focuses on social and psychological needs of the workers along with technical aspects.

Job characteristics model of Hackman and Oldham is the most popular behavioural approach to job design and is based on the following assumptions:

(a) Experienced meaningfulness – To what extent job holder experiences work as important and worthwhile

(b) Experienced responsibility – To what extent job holder is responsible for the result of the work done

(c) Knowledge of result – How well the job holder is performing the job.

Hackman and Oldham have suggested the following guidelines for the job design:

(i) Combine Task

(ii) Create natural work units

(iii) Establish client relationship

(iv) Expand job vertically

(v) Open feedback channel.


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