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Personnel

Feb 1990 v67 n2 p56(6)

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A guide to job enrichment and redesign.
by J. Barton Cunningham and Ted Eberle
The use of traditional methods for job design and redesign can have a negative impact on productivity and employee morale. Four alternatives to the traditional approach are job enrichment, the job characteristics model, Japanese-style management, and quality-of-worklife approaches. The theories of job enrichment and the job characteristics model are based on job content. Japanese-style management techniques focus on strong teamwork, job harmony, and group goals. The quality-of-life approaches are based on improving an organization’s design. A suggested procedure for implementing a large-scale job redesign program involving 12 steps is outlined. © COPYRIGHT American Management Association 1990 A Guide to Job Enrichment And Redesign As many human resources professionals have discovered, the traditional approach to job design can adversely affect their organization’s productivity as well as the motivation and job satisfaction of employees. To overcome these problems, various alternative approaches to job design have been suggested, ranging from Japanese-style management and quality circles to more general applications of organization development and job enrichment. Typically, these approaches seek to improve an organization’s coordination, productivity, and overall product quality and to respond to employees’ needs for learning, challenge, variety, increased responsibility, and achievement. Four of the more popular design alternatives - job enrichment, the job-characteristics model, Japanese-style management, and quality-of-worklife approaches - are briefly described below. (The motivational assumptions, critical techniques, and implementation procedures of these alternatives are summarized in Exhibit 1.) The remainder of the article focuses on the problems HR professionals may encounter when attempting to implement any of these approaches. The Alternatives in a Nutshell Frederick Herzberg’s two-factor theory is one of the most well-known approaches to job enrichment. He suggested that the factors involved in producing job satisfaction (and motivation) are separate and distinct from "hygiene" factors, which lead to job dissatisfaction. Growth and motivation factors include achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility, and advancement. Hygiene factors, in contrast, are associated with the work context or environment. The most important hygiene factor is company policy and administration. The second most important factor is technical supervision. An incompetent supervisor who lacks knowledge of the job or the ability to delegate responsibility and teach, for example, can cause dissatisfaction. Work conditions, interpersonal relations with supervisors, salary, and the lack of recognition and/or achievement also can cause dissatisfaction. According to Herzberg, motivating employees is entirely different from reducing job dissatisfaction. Reducing job dissatisfaction will not increase motivation but merely reduce the level of employees’ dissatisfaction. The job-characteristics model is based on the idea that people will respond differently to the same job and that it is possible to alter a job’s character to increase motivation, satisfaction, and performance. The initial research on job characteristics was concerned with the relationship between certain objective attributes of tasks (such as amount of task variety, level of autonomy, amount of interaction required to carry out task activities and the number of opportunities for optional interaction, level of knowledge and skill required, and amount of responsibility entrusted to the job holder) and employee reactions to the tasks. Five job characteristics were developed in later research: variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and job-based feedback. The job-characteristics model seeks to structure work so that it can be performed effectively and is personally rewarding and satisfying. According to this model, matching people with their jobs will reduce the need to urge them to perform well. Instead, workers will try to do well because it is rewarding and satisfying to do so. Japanese-style management practices have been associated with high productivity, low turnover, and low absenteeism. They evolved as a product of the U.S.-guided post-World War II development of Japan (which discouraged unionization) as well as of Japan’s cultural heritage. However, no body of theory or scientific evidence clearly illustrates that Japanese organization design techniques will produce higher productivity and job satisfaction in either Japanese or American work settings. The Japanese management approach treats employees

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the social environment within the organization. Technological developments have made it easier to break down jobs into simpler. By rotating from job to job. hours of work. Several approaches to job analysis focus on the singular requirement of arranging job duties to respond to efficiency and effectiveness criteria. responsibility. "Wa" refers to a form of teamwork or group consciousness. more specialized tasks. the physical work environment. Job analysis also attempts to describe and coordinate an organization’s broader structure and objectives.Reprinted with permission. For example. The socialization process begins with an initial training program. the process of redesign will need to take into account new technologies and growing individual capacities. This movement provides or withholds opportunities to learn skills that are required for future formal promotions. in fact. and other work conditions. safety.Personnel Feb 1990 v67 n2 p56(6) Page 2 A guide to job enrichment and redesign. and the relationship between life on and off the job. These carefully planned transfers provide some status and recognition since not all jobs at the same hierarchical level are equal in their centrality or importance to the organization’s activities. they may be discouraged because of the competition they can generate among team members. job analysts normally collect information and then develop a job description. It also must recognize that individuals need to be involved in designing the organizations they work in and that the design may have to take into account an individual’s capacity to act in a certain way at a specific point in time. Because quality-of-worklife designs are based on the individual’s ability to make judgments about what is or is not desirable in the workplace. Because of this limited upward mobility. challenge. which may last up to six months and is geared toward familiarizing new employees with the company. transfers are also part of a long-range. rapid promotion is unlikely unless an organization is expanding dramatically. Employees can be transferred to learn new skills. is the component most often emphasized by companies. and the meaningful grouping of tasks and skills into specific jobs. Under conditions of lifetime employment. Japanese companies seek to hire employees who have moderate views and a harmonious personality as well as ability to do the job. which becomes a guide for determining the employee’s work. job security. Work is designed in such a way that tasks are simple. We have had some limited success in encouraging job analysts to make minor adjustments when they develop new job descriptions and refocus job-classification plans. "wa" (harmony). No design will last forever. The company must be committed to understanding the relevant problems and issues and adapting appropriated theories and techniques. we recognize that change may be possible if we choose and adapt our design techniques according to an organization’s specific setting. - GALE GROUP Information Integrity . and compensation. Quality-of-worklife designs do not offer any standard set of principles because they depend on the needs of the technology as well as those of the individuals in the social system. they are easy for everyone to perform and do not rely on singular or gifted personnel. according to family-like norms. managers and employees must maintain an open dialog about the way the workplace is designed and managed. The resulting jobs may present greater opportunities for variety. and growth. employees become increasingly immersed in the company’s philosophy and culture. organizations sometimes are reluctant to commit resources to longterm programs of change that maximize worker input and participation. training needs. Some top executives believe that job enrichment involves too many changes to a job-classification plan and costs too much money. To classify a job. Additional copying is prohibited. Individual employee actions are not dominant in Japanese industry. The elements that are relevant to an individual’s quality of worklife include the task. the administrative system. Although our suggestions may compromise the integrity of the pure theories of job design. The term "quality of worklife" can be thought of as a replacement for such previous terms as job design and socio-technical designs. Discussions can focus on improving wages. Employees’ "choices" can lead to the development of particular kinds of jobs and organizations that enable people to develop their abilities and fulfill their needs in the workplace. experience-building program through which the organization grooms future managers. Among those norms. companies encourage lateral job rotation. Why Problems Arise Our experience with job enrichment and design ideas has revealed several types of implementation problems. Essential to any quality-of-worklife application is an understanding of the needs of the organization’s social and technical systems. the tasks and skills required to achieve those objectives. Quality-of-worklife approaches refer to the many workplace experiments concerned with improving an organization’s design. Why can’t job descriptions be used for focusing job-enrichment efforts? Some job-analysis procedures . The development of organizational cohesiveness seems to be a major objective of Japanese human resources policies.

and identity with the organization. although individual applications may emphasize only specific aspects of the organization.Reprinted with permission. techniques. Interesting work is only part of a larger package that focuses on career.S. The assumption is that intrinsically rewarding jobs will make employees more satisfied and productive. and responsibility. These approaches are limited to redesigning the way in which work is carried out. challenge. while others may be limited by the organization’s technology or job-classification plan. growth. to develop designs that focus on more variety and participation. expectations. It suggests that a design principle cannot respond exclusively to the singular requirements of either technical effectiveness or social satisfaction. and methods used to accomplish a set of tasks as well as the social requirements of responding to employee needs. and feelings about the work setting. Job-analysis procedures need to take into account the effective grouping of tasks as well as employee motivation and development. - GALE GROUP Information Integrity . What counts is a balanced recognition of each system’s needs. provide information on job features such as variety. This sociotechnical concept grew out of the post-World War II coal-mining studies by the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations. life. significance. They are "micro" models of organizational and job design in that they deal with operational/production jobs in which tasks can be defined and broken down. Japanese-style management and quality-of-worklife programs focus more on the total organization. Generally the job-enrichment and job-characteristics models focus on redesigning a job structure using principles that alter the way the individual carries out his or her work. Quality-of-worklife programs strive to develop semiautonomous work groups and shift power to workers. idiosyncrasies. They are "macro" models of organization design. The Japanese-management management approach suggests that the organization take responsibility for the careers and lives of its members. In some organizations. feedback. Some enrichment techniques may be appropriate for the short term. Additional copying is prohibited. They must address the technical requirements of coordinating people. not the satisfaction of one need at the expense of the other.Personnel Feb 1990 v67 n2 p56(6) Page 3 A guide to job enrichment and redesign. A sociotechnical assumption implies that a job cannot be designed with machinelike standards and minimal variety. tools. The sociotechnical concept also suggests that design approaches must respond to worker needs as well as to specific conditions or prerequisites within an organization. variety. Quality-of-worklife programs imply a democracy in which workers take responsibility for the . An effective job design meets both the requirements of the tasks and the social and psychological needs of the workers. Generally companies have been much more interested in applying quality-circle ideas than in trying to make U. or selfish habits. Our experience with quality-of-worklife approaches illustrates some difficulties. accountability. with particular emphasis on improving the level of consultation with employees. Japanese teams or problem-solving groups are consultational in nature. the following three questions should be asked: * Do employees need jobs that involve responsibility. and the like. feedback. organizations more like those in Japan. Both focus on enriching the worker’s job and cultivating the individual to make him or her part of the organization. We probably do not have enough data to provide any evidence of the difficulties of applying Japanese-style management in an American setting. it should not be designed to respond solely to an individual’s wishes. challenge. This difference is central to an understanding of the role of teamwork in these approaches. This sociotechnical concept suggests that job design can make use of many of the techniques from the four models described above. challenge. they do not generally focus on controversial issues such as pay and labor relations. it may be more appropriate to highlight concepts of design that emphasize team grouping. Although team decision making is prominent in both programs. We do not mean to imply that Japanese-style management and sociotechnical-change programs are similar. and change. in others. Moreover. and opportunities to learn? * What techniques can be implemented without changing the job-classification plan? * What techniques would require changes in the job-classification plan? Japanese-style management and quality-of-worklife programs also have unique prerequisites. when introducing enrichment-type programs. autonomy. Thus. Exhibit 2 suggests that job-enrichment and job-characteristics approaches may be more appropriate when workers express interest in gaining more responsibility. Which techniques to use depends on the particular job and culture. Some Questions to Consider The sociotechnical concept suggests that different job-design approaches may be appropriate for different change efforts.

system. At this stage it is sometimes useful to draw a picture of what has been accomplished thus far. and much of the information about worker preferences can best be derived from such interviews. 5. an analyst gets information from the following sources: direct observation or on-the-job experience. or subsystem to be studied. In assessing the organization’s readiness for Japanese-style management or quality-of-worklife programs. Any discussion of approaches to job and organization design must take into account an organization’s needs and requirements. and other sources of available information such as training manuals and existing job guides. How do work tasks and personal skills cluster on the basis of similar behaviors or common requirements? Which tasks may be meaningfully grouped together and defined as a job? 6. feedback. psychological tests and ratings of requirements.the department. 8. 11. and/or others familiar with the job. - GALE GROUP Information Integrity . 3. These characteristics should be identified. organization. their supervisors. Define which groups of workers will be involved and how they relate to each other.Personnel Feb 1990 v67 n2 p56(6) Page 4 A guide to job enrichment and redesign. significance. What work tasks lead to the accomplishment of the organization’s objectives? What unique managerial or personal skills are required? What unique needs and aspirations do workers in these jobs have? Managers should keep in mind the function of the organization and the need to balance social and technical requirements. to be part of its identity. Select the organization. variety. the work setting. meetings with higher-level management and human resources representatives. and opportunities to learn? * Do workers need to learn and grow in the organization. It is important to define the forces that may aid implementation and those that may hinder it. such as the age of the work-force. The process of implementation is as important as the theory of design. A separate process of implementation is required for job-classification plan changes. Develop a process of implementation. 4. It is also necessary to screen the list of design techniques for those that cannot be implemented without changing the job-classification plan. and to assist in its corporate future? * What organization-structure adjustments are needed to respond to these design suggestions? * How should the job-classification plan be altered to respond to these structural changes? A Suggested Procedure We have used the following procedure in organizations that have been reluctant to begin large-scale job-design programs: 1. questionnaires or checklists completed by job incumbents. What are the broad objectives of the larger organization .of which these jobs are a part? How is the organization structured to accomplish these goals? What is the current job-classification structure? 2. Adapt the job description and process of design. a company should answer these questions: * Do individuals want to work in teams to solve problems or make decisions? * Do employees need jobs that involve responsibility. 10. Screen generalities. it is helpful to pick the techniques that are considered relevant based on the approaches defined in this article. challenge. Define the relevant tasks and activities. Pull it together in a picture. 12. Each social system is unique. Develop a list of intervention techniques. Define the unique characteristics or constraints. and the job-classification plan. Managers should clarify how each technique should be implemented in the organization. In conducting a job analysis. Relate techniques to requirements and assumptions. and company . Develop a clustering of tasks. In devising such a list. The job description and process should be reviewed and altered as the organization’s critical requirements change. Define the appropriate level of implementation. Each organization has particular characteristics or constraints. . Additional copying is prohibited. Define the system’s goals. accountability. 9.Reprinted with permission. paying particular attention to employees’ rough idea of what the job consists of. We have learned to rely on a process of open-ended interviewing to probe about the job and the many underlying human elements making it up. Managers can brainstorm to develop a list of techniques and principles that may be appropriate for the job clusters. Screen the list of techniques to eliminate generalities or vague statements that do not specify implementation plans. plant. interviews with job incumbents and their supervisors. The primary goal is to obtain a 7. Interview.

Canada. Canada.D. interpersonal and job preferences. Barton Cunningham is an associate professor at the University of Victoria in Victoria. management skills. He has a Ph.Personnel Feb 1990 v67 n2 p56(6) Page 5 A guide to job enrichment and redesign. He is now vice-president of human resources at a hospital in Alberta. degree in management and administrative studies from the University of Southern California. and quality of worklife.Reprinted with permission. Additional copying is prohibited. We have highlighted the prerequisites necessary for implementing certain approaches to job and organization design. Our underlying assumption is that the success of job-design ideas often depends on the organization’s ability to change job descriptions. entrepreneurship. British Columbia. He is currently working on projects in crisis management. J. He has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Victoria . Ted Eberle has worked as a personnel manager and human resources consultant. - GALE GROUP Information Integrity .