Strategies for Job Enrichment

“For workers who are really prospering in their jobs, work is likely to be a lot like play” (Hackman et all, 1975, p. 60). This concept jumped off the page, because at the company by which I’m currently employed I feel that I play and have fun every day. I believe that in today’s business world the more our employees feel like they play, the more productive, efficient, satisfied, excited, optimistic, energetic they will feel about their jobs. In this essay I will discuss what job satisfaction is and how it affects individual employees. Next I’ll review some of the benefits and pitfalls of job enrichment. Finally, I will explain how job enrichments currently affect me at Esri (my current position) and how I can implement job enrichment going forward.

What is job enrichment?

“Herzberg concluded that true employee satisfaction rests in a fulfilling job experience — more commonly known as job enrichment or vertical job loading.” (Kulpa, 2015, para 3). Kulpa touches on a strong point here about employee satisfaction, the fuller and exciting job an employee has, the greater the experience and motivation they will obtain. Employee satisfaction and job enrichment are critical to today’s workforce, where competition is extremely intense. How I see it, satisfied employees tend to be more efficient, effective and overall maximize their performance. Hackman, Oldham, Janson and Purdy break down motivation and job satisfaction into three components: 1) Experience meaningfulness 2) experience responsibility 3) knowledge of results.

Experience meaningfulness — “The individual must perceive his work as worthwhile and important by some system of value he accepts” (Hackman et all, 1975, p. 60). For example, a soccer player who likes to play pickup games at his local park, enjoys playing the game to better his skills and obtain a healthy lifestyle through exercise. This activity is meaningful and valuable to him because he enjoys soccer and a healthy lifestyle. This activity is integrated as part of his value system and there is an objective from participating in the soccer activities. Experience responsibility — “He must believe that he personally is accountable for the outcomes of his efforts” (Hackman et all, 1975, p. 60). In continuation with the soccer player example, he knows that he alone is responsible for participating in the soccer games. If he does not attend the pickup games he must accept the consequences of reduction in his soccer abilities as well as a diminished healthy lifestyle. It is his responsibility to maintain his schedule and be responsible. If he maintains this principle he will consistently be dependable and reliable for the games.

Knowledge of results — “he must be able to determine, on some fairly regular basis, whether or not the outcomes of his work are satisfactory.” (Hackman et all, 1975, p. 60). The soccer player must constantly be measuring his objectives and results to determine effectiveness. His goal is to better his skills and be healthy. He can effectively track his progress in multiple ways: see improvement in speed, ball control, passing accuracy etc. He can also track his health by observing his well-being, monitoring his body fat and weight. It is critical to be aware of the results, as this will allow a determination of what is working and what is not, which will provide informed decisions and adjustments to the soccer player’s behavior.

Arguments for job enrichment

In a plain and simple form factor, job enrichment can reduce boredom. “Employees get bored with the mundane day-to-day tasks they have to complete” (Brookins, n.d, para 3). Job enrichment can add a variety of duties and tasks that are new to employees, which in turn can reduce their workplace boredom. It also changes their current activities at their job, which can add a level of adventure exploration and fun. Job enrichment will also expand the knowledge, learning capabilities and skills of employees. Boredom and repetitiveness can lead to stagnation. Reducing boredom will keep the employee from conducting repetitive tasks, which can make the day feel very long

“Who excels with a great depth of task may gain recognition, which can lead to company awards and incentives, or even a promotion within the company” (Brookins, n.d, para 4). Recognition is a large and promising component of job enrichment. As Brookins stated, recognition can be a promising driver for achievement and increased performance within employees. Job enrichment can also be a good driver to identify employee’s strengths and weaknesses, as a form of recognizing individual characteristics of employees. Recognition can also lead to noticing and molding new potential leaders who show promising characteristics. Recognition is an important factor to continual good behavior and performance. When one employee is recognized, others will observe and mimic this behavior resulting it surrounding subordinate improvements. In general people want to be respected and valued, recognition enables this feeling in subordinates improving job satisfaction.

Arguments against job enrichment

“When employees are given a greater depth of tasks through job enrichment, they may not be skilled or experienced in the new tasks they’re asked to perform” (Brookins, n.d., para 6). Job enrichment can be a very powerful motivator for subordinates, but lack of training and skills can be a huge disadvantage and lead to lower productivity. On the side of the employee, this can lead to confusion, loss of direction, loss of motivation and frustration. Employees should also be equipped when taking on new assignments or challenging tasks. On the side of the organization lack of training and skills can cause more damage. This can lead to poor production of product or service and possible dissatisfied customers or bad experiences. Organization must be careful when attempting to add job enrichment into employees’ daily jobs, because if the employee is not prepared, it can cost the organization money.

When enriching the job of employees, it comes with exploration and new tasks, as well as completing their currently assigned work. This can lead to increase workloads. “While some employees may be able to immediately re-prioritize their time and tasks, some may initially experience difficulties getting adjusted with their new responsibilities. (Brookins, n.d., para 7). In my opinion adapting to new environments as well as new tasks is critical to perform effectively. The faster we can adapt to the environment or tasks, the faster we can start solving problems. The issue with adapting quickly is the excess or work an employee has. This at times can make it very challenging to adapt and take on the new tasks, which in turn will disable the employee from performing properly.

How I would use it

bring much value to organizations. It is also a good form to establish stars and potential leaders. As a leader I will use components such as recognition to motivate employees to perform at their best. This will allow them to demonstrate their abilities and create some healthy competition within their teams. Enriching one individual’s job will in turn motivate others to do the same, creating a chain effect that will spur motivation, satisfaction and performance within teams.

I will also utilize job enrichment techniques to create an innovative environment. “When an employee’s level of responsibility increases, and she gets the opportunity to try new tasks, it’s inevitable that she will learn new skills” (Brookins, n.d., para 2). I see learning as a critical component to growth, communication and innovation. Job enrichment will enable employees to learn new skills, which will result in personal grown. These new found skills will then empower employees to become innovators within their respected fields.

Summary

Job enrichment can empower individuals to push the boundaries of their capabilities, allowing them to learn, grow and be innovative. In today’s competitive marketplace it is essential that organization produce the best and innovative products to market. Job enrichment will provide extraordinary outcomes if utilized properly. In this essay I’ve covered what job enrichments entails. Next, I reviewed concepts in favor of job enrichments and concepts against it. Finally, I discussed some techniques I can apply to my every day job which will enable individuals to perform at their best utilizing job enrichment.

References:

Brookins, Miranda. (n.d.). The Advantages & Disadvantages of Job Enrichment. Smallbusiness.chron.com. Retrieved from: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/advantages disadvantages-job-enrichment-11960.html

Hackman, J.R., Oldham G., Janson, R., Purdy K. (1975). A New Strategy for Job Enrichment. California Management Review, Vol. 17 №4, SUMMER 1975; (pp. 57–71)

Kulpa, Jason. (2015). To Motivate Employees, Find a Balance Between Job Enrichment and Job Enlargement. Entreprenuer.com Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/242816


Originally published at The Business of Design.