written by: N Nayab•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 2/22/2011
While job design is an in-house exercise to allocate tasks that make up a job in the best possible manner, several external factors influence such reallocation of tasks. Read on for an understanding of the environmental factors of a job design.
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What are Environmental Factors of a Job Design?
Job design is the process of rearranging the duties, responsibilities techniques, procedures, and relationships of a job aimed at raising productivity and job satisfaction, and reducing job dissatisfaction and employee alienation. The major focus is on increasing productivity and efficiency, and reliving boredom by avoiding repetitive and mechanistic tasks. The major elements of job design are job enlargement, job enrichment, job rotation, and job simplification.
The major factors affecting job design are environment, organizational, and behavioral factors. The environmental factors of a job design include employee availability and ability, and social and cultural expectation.
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Very often job design initiatives are a direct result on economic changes required by the external environment. Changes in the business environment may cause obsolesce of some products or services. Launching new products, modifying products, or changing the way of delivery or output to exploit some latent opportunities might also require redesigning jobs. The need to modify the work process might for instance require job enlargement. The answer to improve customer service might be boosting employee morale by job enlargement.
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The ability and overall skill-levels of available employees to perform certain tasks greatly affects job design, especially designing for efficiency. Lack of availability of educated or trained workforce in certain areas, for instance might result in the management developing a simple job design involving only a few routine tasks whereas availability of highly skilled workforce might allow the management to design jobs that involve multi-tasking, alternating between different tasks, and the like.
When Henry Ford first established his factory, most of his workers lacked any experience in automobile manufacturing. This prompted him to establish an assembly line where each worker did only one simple and specific task. For instance, one worker kept on placing engines in their place, and the assembly line moved the product to another worker who tightened the screws. The sum of all such simple tasks, done in series produced an automobile. Highly skilled workers however find such assembly line work too monotonous, and job enrichment tries to add variety to the job, such as entrusting a single worker with both slotting the engine and tightening the screws.
The overall health of the population also affects job design. Establishments in areas with healthy and hardworking populations can hope to design jobs to ensure maximum productivity, structuring extending work hours and overtime. In contrast, establishments located in places where the general populace remains malnourished, such as in third world countries cannot aspire to attain the same level of efficiency and productivity.
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Social and Cultural Expectations
Social and cultural norms and expectations play a major role in job design.
Factors such as national and religious holidays, standard hours of work and vacation rules and other similar factors can for instance affect the design of jobs across countries and states. For instance, Friday is the official weekly holiday in many Middle East countries, as opposed to the American Saturday and Sunday weekend.
In some cultures, designations and bureaucratic divisions of job roles rein supreme, whereas in other places, individuals perform any role or do any job as the situation demands. For instance, in society with high social stratification, managers and top executives do not perform tasks such as making their own coffee, delivering a file to the next person, and other basic tasks, and the company needs to deploy peons and attendants for the purpose. In open and flexible societies, designations such as peons do not exist.
Failure to consider social expectations and norms can cause social dissatisfaction and resentment, leading to low motivation levels. Ignoring local sensibilities can also make it difficult to secure workers to run operations.