Increasing Job Satisfaction
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
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.
Designing Jobs that Motivate
Hackman and Oldham identified five factors of job design that typically
contribute to people's enjoyment of a job:
- Skill Variety – Increasing the number of skills that individuals
use while performing work.
- Task Identity – Enabling people to perform a job from start to
- Task Significance – Providing work that has a direct impact on
the organization or its stakeholders.
- Autonomy – Increasing the degree of decision making, and the
freedom to choose how and when work is done.
- Feedback – Increasing the amount of recognition for doing a job
well, and communicate the results of people's work.
Job enrichment addresses these factors by enhancing the job's core
dimensions and increasing people's sense of fulfillment.
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
- Rotate Jobs – 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 Tasks – 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.
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.
- Identify Project-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
- 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.
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
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.
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
Your responsibility is to figure out which combination of
enrichment options will lead to increased performance and
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