Job enrichment is a way to motivate employees by giving them increased responsibility and variety in their jobs. Many employers traditionally believed that money was the only true motivating factor for employees and that if you wanted to get more work out of employees, offering them more money was the only way to do it. While that may be true for a small group of people, the majority of workers today like to work and to be appreciated for the work they do. Job enrichment, which allows the employees to have more control in planning their work and deciding how the work should be accomplished, is one way to tap into the natural desire most employees have to do a good job, to be appreciated for their contributions to the company, and to feel more a part of the company team.
Job enrichment has its roots in Frederick Herzberg's two-factor theory, according to which two separate dimensions contribute to an employee's behavior at work. The first dimension, known as hygiene factors, involves the presence or absence of job dissatisfacters, such as wages, working environment, rules and regulations, and supervisors. When these factors are poor, work is dissatisfying and employees are not motivated. However, having positive hygiene factors does not cause employees to be motivated; it simply keeps them from being dissatisfied. The second dimension of Herzberg's theory refers to motivators, which are factors that satisfy higher-level needs such as recognition for doing a good job, achievement, and the opportunity for growth and responsibility. These motivators are what actually increase job satisfaction and performance. Job enrichment becomes an important strategy at this point because enriching employees' jobs can help meet some of their motivational needs. There are basically five areas that are believed to affect an individual employee's motivation and job performance: skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback. Job enrichment seeks to find positive ways to address each of these areas and therefore improve employee motivation and personal satisfaction.
Skill variety involves the number of different types of skills that are used to do a job. This area is important because using only one skill to do the same task repeatedly can be quite boring, typically causing the employee's productivity to decrease after a period of time. However, using a variety of skills in a job will tend to keep the employee more interested in the job and more motivated.
One way businesses are focusing on this area is through job rotation, that is, moving employees from job to job within the company, thereby allowing employees a variety of tasks in their work and helping prevent boredom. While this process can be costly to the company because employees must be trained in several different areas, the cost tends to be balanced by the increase in morale and productivity. Job rotation also gives each employee the opportunity to see how the different jobs of a company fit together and gives the company more flexibility in covering tasks when workers are absent. However, while job rotation is a good way to enrich employees' jobs, it can also hinder performance: Having to know several different jobs in order to rotate can prevent employees from becoming proficient at any of the jobs. Therefore, the advantages and disadvantages of job rotation as an enrichment strategy have to be carefully weighed.
Task identity is a matter of realizing a visible outcome from performing a task. Being able to see the end result of the work they do is an important motivator for employees. One way to make task identity clearer is through job enlargement, which means adding more tasks and responsibilities to an existing job. For example, instead of building just one component part of a humidifier, a team of employees builds the entire product from start to finish. When using job enlargement as an enrichment strategy, it is important that enlarging the job gives the employee more responsibility and more variety, not just more work.
Task significance involves how important the task is to others in the company, which is important in showing employees how the work they do fits in with that done in the rest of the organization. If employees can see how their work affects others, it will be a motivator to do the best job they can.
Many companies take new employees on a tour of the company and provide training sessions on how each part of the company works together with the other parts. In order to accept and handle responsibility, it is important that employees know how the various areas of the company work together; without this knowledge, it is very difficult for them to handle decision-making responsibilities. Putting employees from different areas of the company into planning teams can also help them see the significance of the tasks they perform.
Autonomy involves the degree of freedom, independence, and decision-making ability the employee has in completing assigned tasks. Most people like to be given responsibility; it demonstrates trust and helps motivate employees to live up to that trust. Responsibility can also help speed up work processes by enabling the employee to make decisions without having to wait for management approval. Autonomy is a very important part of job enrichment because it gives the employee power and a feeling of importance.
A type of job enrichment that restructures work to best match the employee to the job is job redesign. Job redesign can focus on combining existing jobs, forming work groups, and/or allowing closer contact between employees and individual suppliers or customers. The idea behind job redesign is to match employees with a job they like and are best qualified to perform. Self-managed teams are a type of job design whereby employees are grouped into teams and given certain guidelines to follow as well as goals to accomplish and are then left alone to accomplish those goals. Self-managed teams demonstrate the company's faith in the employees and give employees a feeling of power and pride in the work they accomplish.
Feedback describes how much and what type of information about job performance is received by the employee. It is one of the most important areas for motivation. Without feedback, employees have no way of knowing whether they are doing things correctly or incorrectly. Positive feedback helps to motivate employees by recognizing the efforts they have put into their work. While monetary rewards for doing a good job can be a strong incentive, sometimes saying "you did a really good job on that project" can mean just as much. Corrective feedback is also important because it lets employees know what areas need improvement.
There are many different types of job-enrichment activities and programs that companies can implement to encourage worker participation and enhance motivation. The team atmosphere is one way to enrich jobs. Grouping employees into teams and allowing the team the freedom to plan, make decisions, and accomplish their goals gives employees a feeling of importance and responsibility. It can also help employees come up with creative ideas on ways to improve work activities by giving them the opportunity to work closely with others. Asking for and encouraging employees to give input on company strategies and plans is another way to enrich jobs. Often employees have the best input because they are the ones actually performing the activity on a daily basis. Holding company award ceremonies can also help to enrich jobs and motivate employees by recognizing individual employees for their contributions to the company.
The purpose of job enrichment is to improve the quality of an employee's job and therefore motivate the employee to accomplish more. However, in order for job enrichment to work, the employee has to desire and accept new ways of accomplishing tasks. Some employees lack the skills and knowledge required to perform enriched jobs, while others are quite happy doing routine jobs because they feel the current work situation is relatively stress-free. It is likely that these types of employees would not like job-enrichment activities and would not accept the new way of doing things. Therefore, asking for employee input and keeping communication lines open is essential to the success of job-enrichment programs.
see also Job Satisfaction ; Management
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