Enhancing Jobs For Greater Motivation
Most of us want challenging, rewarding jobs where we feel that we can make a real difference to other people's lives. It's the same for the people who work with or for us.
But even fulfilling jobs can become stale. So what can you do to make your job – or your team members' jobs – more satisfying? After all, retaining experienced staff and motivating them to perform at a high level reduces recruitment costs, and can positively impact your bottom line.
This article explores the basics of job enrichment, and shows you how to keep your and your team's jobs fresh and rewarding.
What Is Job Enrichment?
Job enrichment means enhancing individual jobs to make them more rewarding and inspiring. The idea was most notably promoted by psychologist Frederick Herzberg in his 1968 article, "One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?"
Job enrichment expands the task set that you perform, and the skills that you can develop. This makes for more stimulating and interesting work, and adds variety, challenge and depth to your daily routine.
Enriched jobs give you more freedom, independence and responsibility. You'll also likely receive plenty of feedback, so that you can assess and improve your performance.
Before you look at ways to enrich the jobs in your workplace, you need a fair, trust-based workplace. If there are fundamental flaws in the way people are compensated or treated, then you or your organization need to fix those problems first. If they are not resolved, any other attempts to increase satisfaction will likely be ineffective.
Designing Jobs That Motivate People
Psychologist J. Richard Hackman and economist Greg 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 finish.
- 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 communicating 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.
More recently, business thinker Daniel Pink has advocated the development of jobs that deliver autonomy, mastery and purpose. Pink identifies these factors as essential contributors to intrinsic motivation, which occurs when someone is motivated by their job itself, rather than by extrinsic factors, such as bonuses, time off, or the threat of job loss.
Job Enrichment and Job Enlargement
Job enrichment is not just about having a wider range of tasks, or increasing your workload. Crucially, it should give people more control over their work. Lack of control is a key cause of stress, and therefore of unhappiness.
Where possible, team members should have the opportunity to take on some tasks traditionally done by managers. These can include planning, executing and evaluating the jobs they do. This helps to develop initiative, and can also reduce the pressure on managers who feel like they are being pulled in too many directions.
What Are Some Job Enrichment Techniques?
This section outlines six techniques that you can use to enrich jobs in your organization. Be sure that the action you wish to explore has "buy-in" from your organization before you implement it.
A workplace with a strong learning culture must find a balance between letting people develop and staying productive. In the short term, job enrichment may increase individual motivation at the expense of group productivity, as people undergo training to perform new tasks. Carefully weigh the benefits against the costs.
1. Rotate Jobs
Look for opportunities to let your team members experience different parts of the organization and learn new skills. This can be very motivating, especially for people in jobs that are repetitive or that focus on only one or two skills.
If you're not a manager, look for ways in which you can rotate between jobs that interest you, and suggest them to your boss.
2. Combine Tasks
Combine work activities to provide a more challenging and complex work assignment. This can significantly increase task identity, because you'll be able to see a job through from start to finish.
Combining tasks is an example of job crafting, where you change aspects of your current job to suit you better. This encourages individuals to take the initiative to change and enhance their own roles. It's particularly worth considering in organizations with flatter structures, where there may not be a traditional career ladder.
3. Identify Project-Focused Work Units
Consider breaking typical functional lines and forming project-focused units.
For example, in a traditional marketing department, managers decide who works on which project, and the work passes from one functional area to another as a project progresses.
Instead, you could split the department into integrated project units: 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.
4. Create Autonomous Work Teams
This is job enrichment at the group level. Set a goal for your team, but allow the team members themselves to determine work assignments, schedules, rest breaks, evaluation parameters, and so on. Consider giving them the opportunity to choose their own team members.
This method significantly cuts back on supervisory positions, and enables people to gain leadership and management skills.
5. Widen Decision Making
People feel more motivated when they know that what they say is valued, and that it makes a difference. So allow team members to participate in decision making and to get involved in strategic planning.
This is an excellent way to show your team members that their input is important. It can work in any organization, regardless of size. However, the larger the organization, the harder it will be to bring about this kind of change, and it may prove counterproductive in organizations with strong hierarchies.
6. Use Feedback Effectively
Make sure that your team members know how well they're performing – or if they're falling below expectations. But explore ways to enable them to evaluate and monitor their own performance. The more control they have over this, the richer their jobs will be, as they learn to solve problems, take initiative, and make decisions. You can still offer on-the-spot feedback if required.
Job enrichment provides many opportunities for development. If people can participate in how their work gets done, they'll likely enjoy an increased sense of personal responsibility for their tasks.
Enriching Your Own Job
You can start to enrich your own job by talking to your manager about improving the scope of what you do. Use your appraisal meetings to signal your readiness to take on other work.
To strengthen your hand, make a business case for any changes, and emphasize the benefits of enhanced engagement on your long-term productivity. If the job enrichment addresses a shortfall in team performance, make that a selling point, too.
Also, have a clear plan for the kind of job enrichment you have in mind. You'll need to demonstrate that you can perform the new tasks, and that you won't cause disruption within the team. For example, a marketing executive might think that their job would be enriched by taking on some responsibility for social media marketing. But if that is already a co-worker's responsibility, they might be diminishing that person's role.
Enriching Your Team's Jobs
There's little point in enriching jobs and changing your work environment if you're enriching the wrong jobs and making the wrong changes. As with any motivation initiative, determine what your people want before you begin.
Surveys are a good way to do this. Don't assume that you know what people want: go to the source, and use that information to build your enrichment options. Ask for feedback, and keep a close eye on what people say in their appraisals.
Next, 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.
Finally, plan and communicate your program. If you're making significant changes, tell people what you're doing and why. Work with your managers to create an enriched work environment that includes plenty of employee participation and recognition.
Remember to monitor your efforts, seek and listen to feedback, and regularly evaluate the effectiveness of what you're providing.
Job enrichment is a fundamental part of attracting, motivating, and retaining talented people. The way an organization's jobs are designed needs to match the skills and interests of its staff.
When work assignments reflect a good level of skill variety, task identity, purpose, autonomy, and feedback, the people doing the work will likely be more content and less stressed. Enriched jobs lead to more satisfied and motivated staff members.
If you're a manager, you need to figure out which combination of enrichment options will lead to increased performance and productivity.
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