Job Design

Colleen Frislid
Colleen E. Frislid, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Creating jobs that can be both beneficial to the company while simultaneously motivating your employees can be challenging! That’s where job design comes in. Read on for more information.

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What Is Job Design?

Job design is the process of organizing job duties, tasks, and responsibilities to maintain job satisfaction and employee engagement. Job design is a constant, ongoing process because the global environment of roles, responsibilities, employee needs and the market is constantly changing.

Why Is Job Design Important?

Job design is important because it allows you to stay relevant and create jobs that fulfill both the organizational and employee needs.

  • Alignment. When you can align both company and employee values and needs, you can create something beautiful. Successful job design means your organization experiences lower turnover and absenteeism and higher productivity.
  • Employee motivation. Employee motivation is the intangible ingredient needed for a productive workforce. Well-designed roles and responsibilities help your organization create motivation for employees. While there are ways to motivate employees extrinsically (rewards, incentives, bonuses), internal factors like job satisfaction are worth the investment.
  • Staying current. The global landscape for work is changing every day, including motivational factors and employee values. Job design allows you to stay current and competitive to attract and retain top talent and give your employees the opportunity to succeed.

What Are Some Job Design Strategies?

There are a few different strategies for job design, each with their own value and benefits. You’ll want to evaluate the needs of the organization and the desires of the employee to determine which strategy is right for you. Determine if the employee is feeling overwhelmed, looking to develop new skills, feeling undervalued, or ready to contribute more to the organization.

Strategy 1: Job Enrichment

Job enrichment is focused on adding employee satisfaction to existing roles. In a sense, each of the following strategies could be a type of job enrichment. Take into consideration each employee’s unique perspective and what they require to stay motivated and engaged.

More commonly though, job enrichment refers to creating opportunities for an employee to find greater satisfaction in their current role. This could be done by grouping related tasks to create role clarity, helping the employee build relationships and role significance by introducing new partners and stakeholders, or finding opportunities to provide developmental feedback and career pathing.

Finally, a company should look at several different items when working toward job enrichment, such as skill variety, task identity ( responsibility for the outcome of completed tasks), task significance (perceived importance of the task), autonomy, and feedback. You’ll notice that job enrichment is tied to many other strategies outlined below.

Strategy 2: Job Enlargement

Job enlargement refers to adding responsibilities to an existing role. This enables the employee to learn new skills and work on new tasks related to their current area of work. For example, if you have an appliance technician who routinely works only on refrigerators, you may expand their role to include washing machines. It can apply to white-collar work as well, such as an accountant that only does expense reporting enlarging the position to include assisting with general ledgers. This breaks up the monotony, allows the employee to build new skills, and adds variety to keep them engaged.

Strategy 3: Job Simplification

Job simplification is the act of removing tasks or responsibilities from a role to make it more specific. You could choose this for a couple of reasons. First, the job has taken on more responsibilities over time and is no longer manageable for one person, or second, you want to create a role focused on specific tasks to become productive at completing them.

Strategy 4: Job Rotation

Like job simplification, job rotation is a more unique strategy, but it’s not uncommon. In job rotation, you move employees to different jobs in the organization enabling them to develop new skills, gain experience and learn about new roles.

Employees doing job rotation are uniquely positioned to cover absences for employees in other departments and develop an understanding of the full operation of the organization. This could prove useful in succession planning, minimizing skill gaps, and keeping employees engaged and adaptable to ever-changing roles.

Strategy 5: Job Loading

Job loading. Job loading is redesigning a job to benefit the employee’s need for purpose in their role by adding tasks like decision-making authority. This helps employees feel a sense of ownership in the work.

Strategy 6: Job Crafting

Job crafting tends to happen naturally when employees change their responsibilities over time. This could include changing the tasks, the scope of tasks, or the amount of internal and external interaction with others. Employees may feel more ownership for a role that they’ve helped design, so including them in the job design process is helpful whenever a position is flexible enough to allow it. This employee involvement could be as simple as a survey or as thorough as an in-depth discussion.

An Example of a Well Executed Job Design

A well-executed job design should accomplish both the goals of the organization and the needs of the employee. It should give employees a sense of power, the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience, and reward them for their efforts.

Example

In this example, an organization wants to focus on building employee morale. Through their research, they found that promoting from within boosts morale by giving employees opportunities to progress and develop. Unfortunately, the company has determined they don’t have enough jobs for everyone. Rather than switching gears, the company sticks to the promote-from-within strategy and focuses on developing employees within their current roles. This gives them opportunities to expand their current skill sets and increase their knowledge and abilities for future roles without needing immediate promotion.

The company starts in the marketing department. It’s a small group of 3 employees but it’s the department with the lowest level of engagement according to a company survey. They review in detail the current job descriptions for each employee in the department and look for related tasks, redundancies, and responsibilities that could be transferred to other individuals or departments. They also consider what tasks the marketing department is not currently completing that they would like them to include in future roles. Once finished, leadership works with each individual marketing employee to understand how they see their role and what their goals are. Through this review, the company learns that of the two junior associates in the marketing department, one is comfortable with the workload but feels the company could do more television advertising. Company leadership agrees with this assessment. The other associate feels underwhelmed, undervalued, and wants to move into a decision-making role but doesn’t believe they have that opportunity in their current position. The senior executive in the department is feeling extremely overwhelmed, struggling to manage their workload without working overtime every week, and unable to prepare proposals to management to expand branding opportunities.

The company adjusts each role so that each employee in the department feels like their workload is manageable and they can re-engage with the change in tasks. Some of the responsibilities previously assigned to the senior executive are redistributed to the two junior employees. The first employee takes point on researching and branching out into new areas of opportunity for the company. The second employee takes on some of the project-related tasks that require working with other leaders and stakeholders to expand their skills and knowledge. The senior executive is now able to focus on strategy for the company while managing the department without feeling overwhelmed.

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Questions You’ve Asked Us About Job Design

What is the result of job design?
Job design should consider responsibilities in a way that encompasses both organizational goals and employee satisfaction. If it’s done well, there will be high productivity, low turnover and absenteeism, greater employee engagement and motivation and improved organizational culture.
Who is primarily responsible for job design?
Job design primarily falls to HR but should be a collaborative effort between HR, company leadership and front-line managers. Ultimately, job design is about aligning everyone’s goals so having these key stakeholders involved in the process ensures that both employee and organizational needs are met.
Colleen Frislid
Colleen E. Frislid, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Colleen manages a team of HR consultants that work with a variety of industries, specializing in the fields of human resources, strategic planning, and human capital management. Colleen applies expert knowledge, industry experience, and relentless energy to solving companies’ issues. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management as well as women in leadership groups. She is PHR, SPHR, and SHRM-SCP certified. She has an awesome pet cat, Attila and, when she’s not working she loves to travel, enjoy the great outdoors, and volunteer with different local charities.

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