Brighten up your job!
Most of us want interesting, challenging jobs where we feel that we can make a real difference to other people's lives.
As it is for us, so it is for the people who work with or for us.
So why are so many jobs so boring and monotonous? And what can you do to make the jobs you offer more satisfying? (By reducing recruitment costs, increasing retention of experienced staff and motivating them to perform at a high level, you can have a real impact on the bottom line.)
One of the key factors in good job design is job enrichment, most notably promoted by psychologist Frederick Herzberg in his 1968 article "One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?". This is the practice of enhancing individual jobs to make the responsibilities more rewarding and inspiring for the people who do them.
With job enrichment, you expand the task set that someone performs. You provide more stimulating and interesting work that adds variety and challenge to an employee's daily routine. This increases the depth of the job and allows people to have more control over their work.
Before you look at ways to enrich the jobs in your workplace, you need to have as your foundation a good, fair work environment. If there are fundamental flaws – in the way people are compensated, their working conditions, their supervision, the expectations placed upon them, or the way they're treated – then those problems should be fixed first. If they are not resolved, any other attempts to increase satisfaction are likely to be sterile.
Hackman and Oldham identified five factors of job design that typically contribute to people's enjoyment of a job:
Job enrichment addresses these factors by enhancing the job's core dimensions and increasing people's sense of fulfillment.
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:
These forms of job enrichment can be tricky because they may provide increased motivation at the expense of decreased productivity. When you have new people performing tasks, you may have to deal with issues of training, efficiency, and performance. You must carefully weigh the benefits against the costs.
Job enrichment provides many opportunities for people's development. You'll give them lots of opportunity to participate in how their work gets done, and they'll most-likely enjoy an increased sense of personal responsibility for their tasks.
Don't just accept these points wholesale – they'll work in some situations and not in others. Apply these ideas sensibly and in a way that is aligned with the realities of your workplace and your organization's mission.
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.
Job enrichment is a fundamental part of attracting, motivating, and retaining talented people, particularly where work is repetitive or boring. To do it well, you need a great match between the way your jobs are designed and the skills and interests of the employees working for you.
When your work assignments reflect a good level of skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback, members of your team are likely be much more content, and much less stressed. Enriched jobs lead to more satisfied and motivated workers.
Your responsibility is to figure out which combination of enrichment options will lead to increased performance and productivity.
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