Job Enlargement and Job Satisfaction
Edwin A. Locke’s "Range of Affect Theory" of 1976, a famous job satisfaction model premise that looks at the discrepancies between what one wants in a job and what one has in a job, does influence job satisfaction, and that the extent to which a person values a given facet of his or her work determines how satisfied or dissatisfied he or she is with the job. While this primarily relates to factors such as autonomy in the job, this theory also covers job enlargement. For instance, a worker who values multi-tasking might remain satisfied with an enlarged job profile that allows him to do many things at once, and may remain dissatisfied in a routine assembly line work, doing only one thing repeatedly.
Research on whether job enlargement actually contributes to job satisfaction is, however, limited and mixed.
Job enlargement usually requires training programs to equip employees to handle the added job responsibilities. This results in better productivity and mastery of work, which is a factor that promotes job satisfaction. Even without training, job enlargement allows employees to use their innate skills fully, providing them with greater satisfaction. Adding duties to a worker’s job may also reduce the exposure of workers to specific stresses of repetitive or physically strenuous jobs, again contributing to satisfaction.
The advantages of job enlargement notwithstanding, it raises several challenges. One big danger is “job creep" or the enlarged work again becoming monotonous over time. This leads to the organization not realizing the returns of better efficiency and productivity from its investment in training costs and process redesign to facilitate the job enlargement. Moreover, additional job enlargements beyond a point, can lead to an unmanageable workload for the employee.
Experience from the workplace suggests that job enlargement very often only results in marginal improvement in the degree of repetition, skill demands, and the level of responsibility, and as such, workers do not always respond positively to such changes.