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Job Design, Job Enlargement, and Empowerment

30 October, 2015 - 15:40

As we have discussed previously, one of the reasons for job dissatisfaction is the job itself. Ensuring we are appropriately matching skills with the job when we do our initial hiring is important. Revisiting the recruitment plan and selection process should be a consideration.

Job enrichment means to enhance a job by adding more meaningful tasks to make the employee’s work more rewarding. For example, if a retail salesperson is good at creating eye-catching displays, allow him or her to practice this skill and assign tasks revolving around this. Job enrichment can fulfill the higher level of human needs while creating job satisfaction at the same time. In fact, research in this area by Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham  1 found that employees need the following to achieve job satisfaction:

  • Skill variety, or many different activities as part of the job
  • Task identity, or being able to complete one task from beginning to end
  • Task significance, or the degree to which the job has impact on others, internally or externally
  • Autonomy, or freedom to make decisions within the job
  • Feedback, or clear information about performance

In addition, job enlargement, defined as the adding of new challenges or responsibilities to a current job, can create job satisfaction. Assigning employees to a special project or task is an example of job enlargement. Be cautioned, though, that some employees may resent additional work, and job enlargement could actually be a demotivator. Otherwise, knowing the employee and his or her goals and adding work that can be an end to these goals is the best way to achieve retention through job enlargement.

Employee empowerment involves employees in their work by allowing them to make decisions and act upon those decisions, with the support of the organization. Employees who are not micromanaged and who have the power to determine the sequence of their own work day, for example, tend to be more satisfied than those who are not empowered. Empowerment can include the following:

  • Encourage innovation or new ways of doing things.
  • Make sure employees have the information they need to do their jobs; for example, they are not dependent on managers for information in decision making.
  • Use management styles that allow for participation, feedback, and ideas from employees.