Job Enrichment

6 Ways to Grow Skills and Responsibilities to Enhance Motivation

Job Enrichment - 6 Ways to Grow Skills and Responsibilities to Enhance Motivation

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Keep your team's jobs fresh, motivating and rewarding!

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 classic article, "One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?" [1]

Job enrichment expands the range of tasks 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. It's also a great opportunity to ask for plenty of feedback, so that you can assess and improve your performance.

Warning:

Before you look at ways to enrich the jobs in your workplace, you need a fair, trust-based working culture. 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're not resolved, any other attempts to increase satisfaction will likely fail.

How Does Job Enrichment Help Motivation?

Psychologist J. Richard Hackman and economist Greg Oldham identified five factors of job design that typically contribute to people's enjoyment of a job: [2]

  1. Skill Variety: increasing the number of skills that individuals use while performing work.
  2. Task Identity: enabling people to perform a job from start to finish.
  3. Task Significance: providing work that has a direct impact on the organization or its stakeholders.
  4. Autonomy: increasing the degree of decision making, and the freedom to choose how and when work is done.
  5. 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.

Reprinted from Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, Vol. 16.2, J. Richard Hackman and Greg R. Oldham, "Motivation Through the Design of Work: Test of a Theory", pp250-279, Copyright (1976), with permission from Elsevier.

More recently, business thinker Daniel Pink advocated the development of jobs that deliver autonomy, mastery and purpose. Pink identifies these factors as essential contributors to intrinsic motivation. This is a person's desire to perform well for their own satisfaction, rather than because of extrinsic factors such as bonuses, time off, or the threat of job loss.

Job Enrichment vs. Job Enlargement

Job enrichment doesn't necessarily increase workload. Crucially, it gives people more control over their work. Lack of control is a key cause of stress, and therefore of unhappiness and poor performance.

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're being pulled in too many directions.

In the short term, job enrichment may increase individual motivation at the expense of group productivity, as people spend time in research, training and development. It will take skill and flexibility across the team to deliver key priorities without creating resentment or burnout.

What Are Some Job-Enrichment Techniques?

This section outlines six techniques that you might 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!

1. Rotate Jobs

Look for opportunities for your team members to 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. It's also a great way to discover potential efficiencies and collaborations, as silos break down.

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 also 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 department where managers decide who works on which project, and the work passes from one functional area to another, you could split the department into integrated multidisciplinary teams. Market researchers, copywriters and designers could all work together for one client or one campaign, for instance.

Enabling employees to build client relationships directly is an excellent way to increase their sense of purpose and impact.

4. Create Autonomous Work Teams

This is job enrichment at the group level. Set a goal for your team, but empower team members to determine their own assignments, schedules, working patterns, evaluation parameters, and so on. Consider giving them the opportunity to choose their own team members, too.

This method significantly reduces the need for supervisory positions, and enables people to gain leadership, management, planning, and collaboration skills.

5. Widen Decision Making

People feel more motivated when they know that what they say is heard, valued, and that it makes a difference. So involve 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 and why. 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. 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.

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How to Enrich 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 one-on-one and 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's already a co-worker's responsibility, they might be diminishing that person's role.

How to Enrich 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 changes, seek and listen to feedback, and regularly evaluate the effectiveness of what you're providing.

Key Points

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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Comments (4)
  • Over a month ago Michele wrote
    Hi ksatya574,

    Generally speaking, usually only minor changes to an individual's position are required to increase job satisfaction, such as assignment of tasks that provide an opportunity to broaden or deepen existing skills or develop new ones. If the changes are significant, it is important to engage human resources to re-evaluate the job. In terms of changing titles, if the change is substantial, the situation many warrant a title change. Once again, check with human resources. Many organizations have guidelines on titles to ensure there is consistency across all jobs, between teams and levels.

    Michele
    Mind Tools Team
  • Over a month ago ksatya574 wrote
    I really liked the information provided in this article. I just need few insights on Change of Titles/Designations that reflects the job enrichment programs from time to time. For example: We are size of 5 team members and people expressed that they are bored with monotonous job and always look for opportunities to handle new tasks. Job enrichment is an effective tool to implement and motivate the team members. What about the current titles and career progression of an individual if they are handling different roles year on year.

    Looking forward to your response on the above. Thank you very much.
  • Over a month ago mayc wrote
    I so completely agree. The only way you are going to get employee with vested interest in your department and your organization is to involve them. There is no room for us and them thinking. Do what you have to increase employee involvement - I like the idea of increasing autonomy and helping employees to take more control over their projects and assignments.

    We have experimented with job rotation a bit and that didn't work for us. WE were in constant training-mode. It basically felt like it would in a company with very high turnover. Sure we didn't have t tell them what the company was all about and they were already indoctrinated into the culture but it seemed the technical parts of the job were the most time-intensive to train on anyway. Maybe it works for some workplaces but it sure didn't work for ours.
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