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Job design is defined as the arrangement or rearrangement of work activities where the main objective is to reduce job dissatisfaction among employees and also reduce employee alienation within the work place.
Job design also refers to the organizing of responsibilities and work duties so as to make sure there is productivity amongst the employees of an organization. Job design addresses the content of jobs and how this content affects the performance of employees (Mathis & Jackson, 2008).
The identification of the major components of a job is an important part of job design and many companies today have conducted job design activities to ensure that their employees meet the organization’s goals and objectives.
The three major reasons that have been used by companies the world over to conduct job design activities include improving the performance of the company where job design influences the performance of certain work duties especially those that require high employee motivation such as customer service and customer relations.
Another reason is that job design affects the job satisfaction of employees as people are more satisfied with particular job configurations that they find to be suitable to their skills and knowledge. Employees who find themselves in non-demanding jobs while they have technical skills might experience job dissatisfaction as their technical knowledge and skills are not being utilized to the maximum (Mathis & Jackson, 2008).
Personal contribution with relation to job design involves the activities that an individual employee or worker in an organization performs to ensure that they achieve job satisfaction in the course of performing their duties.
The personal contribution of an employee would be to change their behavior or attitude towards work where an employee who would report late to work or would record a high rate of abseentism might decide to be punctual for work and not miss any work days. Another personal contribution of an employee towards job design would be to create a set of activities related to the work tasks that would suit the individual needs of the employee.
For example, a secretary might decide to use a manual filing system rather than a digitized filing system because they are comfortable filing documents in the manual way. An accountant might decide to use online QuickBooks rather than the paper QuickBooks because they view them to be more efficient (Gibson et al, 2006)
Classic Approaches to Job Design
The most common approach in job design or re-design is the technique of simplifying the tasks and responsibilities of a job to be more manageable. This is referred to as job simplification and it is mostly suitable for entry-level workers or graduate employees who have no prior experience with the job position.
Job simplification is suitable for such types of employees to ensure that they are not overwhelmed by the tasks and responsibilities that come with the job. A major disadvantage of job simplification is that it removes the challenging aspects of a job making the tasks too easy to perform. Another disadvantage is that the job might become boring at some point and loose its appeal because of its simplistic nature (Gibson et al, 2006).
There are several approaches that can be used by companies and business to ensure that job design and re-design has been conducted in a successful way. One of these approaches is job extension where the job design attempts to widen the span of the job by increasing the duties and tasks that come with the job.
Job enlargement is usually performed on job positions that have limited tasks and duties and where the performance of the employee within the organization is limited as a result of the work tasks and responsibilities. Another approach that is used in job design is job enhancement that involves escalating the profundity of a job through incorporating activities such as the addition of organizing planning, and controlling responsibilities (Daft, 2008).
Managers within a company might decide to conduct job enrichment activities by promoting work variety as well as providing employees with more managerial responsibilities to ensure that they grow personally within the organization. Managers might also decide to give their employees more freedom and authority to perform their work duties in a way they find most suitable to them.
Increasing the employee’s accountability for the work they have performed within a business unit by reducing external control pressures especially from managers and supervisors might also lead to job enrichment within an organization.
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Another way of achieving job enrichment within an organization would be to expand employee assignments to ensure that they are able to learn various strategies that they can use to perform new tasks. Providing employees with direct feedback would also ensure that they can be able to derive job enrichment from planning and organizing activities (Daft, 2008).
Another approach that is used in conducting job design or redesign is referred to as job rotation where the monotonous cycle of work is broken by shifting an employee from one work position to another. A major advantage of job rotation is that it enhances the development of an employee’s ability to perform different jobs within an organization.
This means that in the event a position within the organization becomes open, they can be able to fill in that position without going for outside hires. A major disadvantage of job rotation is that it has a minimal effect on an employee’s work performance especially if they are shifted to a boring job (Daft, 2008).
Managers need to liaise with their employees when they are choosing which job design approaches to use in the design process. This will involve assessing the personal contribution of the employee in selecting the most suitable job design approach.
Managers and employees who want to change their attitude towards work might select the job enrichment approach where employees who have limited work duties are given more assignments to ensure that they have job satisfaction. Job enrichment might also be used when trying to achieve job satisfaction within an organization by increasing the motivation of employees (Gibson et al, 2006).
Characteristics of Jobs in Job Design
A good job design depends on the characteristics of a job that are relevant to a particular group of people within an organization. Some common examples of job characteristics include skill variety which refers to the extent to which a job has several different activities that are needed to successfully complete the work duties.
If the work duties require the involvement of more skills, the job will become more meaningful to the employee. The personal contribution of the employee in skill variety would be to acquire additional skills that would be used to perform the different activities of the job.
“Another example of a job characteristic is task identity which is the extent to which a job has an identifiable unit of work that can be able to produce a visible outcome” (Gibson et al, 2006). For example if a customer care officer possessed customer care skills as well as technical skills, they might be able to help customers set up technical equipment without having to refer them to the technical support team
Another characteristic of a job is task significance which is defined as the impact that a job has on other people within and outside the organization. A job is said to be significant if it is important to other people for the same reason that it is significant to the person who is performing the work duties.
For example a soldier might find their job to be more significant when they are defending their country from a real threat rather than when they are preparing to face threats that might arise in the future. Job autonomy is another important characteristic of a job where autonomy refers to the extent to which an employee within an organization has the freedom and discretion to perform their work duties without any interference from managers or supervisors.
Job autonomy is an important characteristic in job design as it ensures that employees have more personal responsibilities to perform their work in the workplace. Job autonomy ensures that the employee can be able to contribute to their performance within the company (Mathis & Jackson, 2008).
The discussion has dealt with job design and personal contributions within the organization. Job design or redesign is an important activity for organizations as it ensures that employee productivity and performance within an organization has been improved. The research findings within the essay have revealed various approaches that can be used in performing job design activities which include job enrichment, job rotation, and job enlargement.
The discussion has also focused on the various job characteristics that are needed to perform job design activities. The aspect of personal contributions within the essay has dealt with the activities that an individual employee can perform to affect their own job design. Personal contributions in job design are usually driven by the personal behavior and attitudes of individual employees.
Daft, R.L., (208). Organization theory and design. Ohio, US: Cengage Learning
Gibson, J., Ivancevich, J., Donnelly, J., & Konopaske, R., (2006). Organizations; behavior, structure, processes, 12th Edition. Chicago: McGraw-Hill.
Mathis, R.L., & Jackson, J.H., (2008). Human resource management. Mason, Ohio: Thomson South-Western