Origins of Job Enrichment
Job Enrichment is a “vertical” enlargement of job duties, providing the employee with tasks and responsibilities normally done by a senior employee or supervisor, and usually comes with more freedom and control over the planning, execution, and evaluation of job tasks.
The rationale behind job enrichment is to motivate employees. The traditional practice of specialization, or division of labor, dividing work into many components, and assigning each component to a separate worker results in employee boredom, and consequently loss of efficiency, and low productivity. The earliest approach to relieve such boredom was job rotation and job enlargement. Such concepts however did not have any backing from psychological studies. Frederick Herzberg, the noted psychologist, in his 1968 article, “One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?” advocated enhancing individual jobs and responsibilities to make them more inspiring and rewarding for the workforce. This became the basis of Job Enrichment, the earliest psychological backed approach to motivating employees at work.
When considering motivational theories and organizational behavior, job enrichment impact on employee motivation comes through adding to the quality of tasks instead of quantity of tasks, and changing the work profile through a behavioral intervention, as opposed to a technical intervention affected by job enlargement.
Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory
Herzberg identified two separate dimensions, that contribute to an employee’s behavior at work. The first dimension, hygiene or extrinsic factors, includes aspects such as wages, work environment, and rules and regulations. When such factors remain poor, work is dissatisfying and people are not motivated to work. The presence of such factors in a good way however, need not necessarily motivate people to work.
The second dimension, motivators or intrinsic factors include recognition for doing a good job, sense of achievement, and the opportunity for growth and responsibility. The presence of such factors motivates employees, but the absence of such factors need not necessarily demotivate the employee.
Herzberg identified five key characteristics that shape such motivators:
- Skill Variety, or increase in the number of skills that individuals use while performing work, to remove monotony.
- Task Identity, or allowing people to perform a job from start to finish.
- Task Significance, or ensuring that the task provided ha a direct impact on the organization or business.
- Autonomy, or freedom to choose how and when work is done, or involvement in the decision making process.
- Feedback, or recognizing a job done well, and effective communication of results.
These five factors have shaped the ways by which organizations implement job enrichment. For instance, organizations try to enrich the work of an employee through:
- Job rotation or placing people in a variety of different job settings, giving them an opportunity to learn and use a variety of skills and experience, and perform different kinds of work.
- Combining work activities to give a “task identity”, that helps employees visualize and complete tasks from start to finish, such as breaking typical functional line activities, and assigning project or product-focused work instead.
- Setting goals, and allowing team members a free hand in adopting means to attaining such goals, and granting more authority to workers for making job-related decisions.
- Allowing team members to participate in decision making considering their inputs during strategic planning exercises .
Apart from Herzberg’s Two Factor theory, other motivational theories also lends credence to job enrichment motivation.
McClelland’s Theory of Needs holds that people remain motivated to perform owing to their need of achievement, need of affiliation, and need of power. Job Enrichment provides the worker with an opportunity to take up higher levels of tasks and responsibilities, and thereby fulfill their needs of achievement, affiliation, and power.
Finally, research validates job enrichment theory and substantiates job enrichment impact on employee motivation. The presence of the factors mentioned as motivators by Herzberg caters to employees sense of fulfillment, and thereby improve job satisfaction and motivation, provided such job enrichment initiatives are supported by an efficient feedback and communication mechanism.
References & Image Credits
- Encarnacion, Roberto. “Job Design.” Retrieved from https://edweb.sdsu.edu/people/arossett/pie/Interventions/jobdesign_2.htm on 03 January 2011.
- Orpen, Christopher. “The Effects of Job Enrichment on Employee Satisfaction, Motivation, Involvement, and Performance: A Field Experiment.” University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. Retrieved from https://hum.sagepub.com/content/32/3/189.abstract on 04 January 2011.
- “Job Enrichment.” https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMM_81.htm Retrieved 04 January 2011.
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