Factors affecting Job Design

Job Design Importance, Approaches, Steps, Factors

Table of Contents:-

Job Design Meaning

The logical sequence of job analysis is known as job design. Job analysis provides job-related data, skills and knowledge expected of the incumbent to discharge the job. It helps in developing the appropriate design of a job to improve the efficiency and satisfaction of employees. Job design is a process of planning and organising the tasks, duties and responsibilities of a job in a way that helps in achieving specific goals.

Job design has an influence on job satisfaction, employee motivation, and commitment to an organisation, all of which have a significant impact on the efficiency of the business. It refers to the method the tasks are combined to form a complete job. It can be defined as building the specifications of the position, contents, methods, and relationships of the job to meet various technological and organisational requirements as well as meet the personal needs of job holders. 

What is Job Design?

Job design is the process of organizing responsibilities, tasks, duties, and other elements into a productive work unit. Identifying the various components of a job is an integral part of job design. It creates and organises the various elements that make up a specific job.

It is the process of structuring and designating specific activities at group or individual levels. 

For example:

  • For a mechanist – Job design might specify what machines are to be operated, how they are to be operated, and what performance standards are expected. 
  • For a manager – Job design might involve defining areas of responsibility, decision making, identifying goals and expectations and establishing appropriate indicators of success.

Identifying the various components of a job is an integral part of job design. It creates and organises the various elements that make up a specific job. It organises tasks, duties, responsibilities and other elements into a productive work unit. It depends upon several factors, e.g., employee skills, technology, employee needs, etc.

Steps of Job Design

Job design involves three steps:

  1. The specification of individual tasks.
  2. The specification of the process of performing each task.
  3. The combination of tasks into specific jobs to be assigned to individuals.

Two key aspects determine the content of job design. Firstly, it involves specifying individual tasks and then combining those tasks into specific jobs to be assigned to individuals. Secondly, it includes specifying the process of performing each task, which outlines precisely how the job should be performed. While designing a job, the requirements of the organisation and the individual needs of the job holder must be considered. The key to successful job design lies in balancing the needs of the job holder and the organisation.

Traditionally, the practice of designing jobs has been simplifying the tasks to be performed. Job design often leads jobs to highly specialized roles. While specialisation has many advantages. It can result in boredom and even degradation of the job holder. In recent times organisations have realised that what an employee does on the job (design of a job) has considerable influence on his productivity and job satisfaction.

Impact of effective job design on employee performance

Effective job design can affect job performance, especially in those roles where employee motivation plays an important role and can make a substantial difference. By carefully designing the tasks, expectations, responsibilities, and overall structure of a job, employers can create a positive work environment that fosters productivity, engagement and Job satisfaction. It even enhances employee motivation and ultimately leads to improved performance. Hence, employers must give utmost importance to job design as a key component of their comprehensive talent management approach.

Today, an educated and innovative workforce demands a well-designed job structure. Because different aspects of a job affect the quality of work life and satisfaction level of employees in many ways. Effective job design makes it easy to identify what is a “good” and a “bad” job. Therefore, it becomes necessary to identify the key elements that contribute to a fulfilling job experience and higher job satisfaction thereby reducing turnover and absenteeism. By creating jobs tailored to employee needs and preferences organizations can foster a positive work environment and employee retention.

Impact of Job Design

Job design can impact both the physical and mental well-being of employees. Poorly designed jobs can lead to a range of health issues, including hearing loss, leg pain, backache,  stress, high blood pressure, and even heart disease.

There is a close relationship between job analysis and job design. A job cannot be designed or redesigned without its analysis. Job analysis reveals the nature, contents and requirements of a job. Such analysis also shows shortcomings, if any, in Job design. A job’s design can be improved by removing these shortcomings. Job simplification, job enlargement and job enrichment are the main methods of designing a job.

Managers play a significant role in job design because often they are the people who establish jobs and their design components. They must make sure that job expectations are clear, that decision making responsibilities and the accountability of employees are clarified and that the interactions with other jobs are appropriate and integrated. When designing a job, the nature and characteristics of both jobs and people should be considered.

Factors Affecting Job Design

Various factors may lead to job design or redesign in an organization. This is done by the method of job enlargement, job enrichment and semi-automated groups. Moving from job analysis, job description and job specification, it is the role and responsibilities of HR manager to design the jobs within the organization. Excessive specification and concentration on the required efficiency levels hurt the motivation of employees.

In job analysis, the focus is on the job duties, and job specifications, while job design focuses on the interest of the individual which also reflects the interest of the organization.

Factors that affect job design are as follows:-

Factors affecting Job Design

  1. Process  values of specialization and repetitive operators
  2. Changing technology
  3. Labour union policies
  4. Abilities of the present employees
  5. The available supply of potential employees
  6. Interaction necessities of jobs within the system
  7. Psychological and social needs of human beings

The challenges of the above-given factors can be converted into advantages by redesigning the jobs through job enlargement, job rotation and job enrichment. Improving job characteristics is key to employee motivation and employee engagement.

Importance of Job Design

The importance of job design need not be overemphasised. The design of jobs has an impact on organisations and employee objectives. From the organisation’s perspective, the way tasks and responsibilities are grouped can affect productivity and costs. Jobs that are not satisfying or are too demanding or difficult to fill. Monotonous job roles can lead to a high turnover rate among employees. For an employee motivation and job satisfaction are affected by the match between personal needs and job factors (qualifications, content and rewards). Therefore, thoughtful design of jobs can help both the organisation and its employees achieve their objectives.

It is well-known that jobs are more than just a collection of tasks documented in a job analysis schedule or summarized in a job description. Jobs are the foundation of organisational productivity and employee satisfaction or lack thereof. How well jobs are designed plays an increasingly important role in the success and even survival of any organization during the next millennium. As the number of new workers coming into the labour market slows and the international competition is increasing. Well-designed jobs will become an important factor in attracting and retaining a motivated workforce, which is capable of producing high-quality products and services. 

Approaches to Job Design

Major approaches to job design are given as follows:-

  1. Classical Approach
  2. Behavioural Approach

Classical Approach

Another name for the classical approach is the Engineering approach, which was developed by FW. Taylor and his associates. The principles of scientific management formed the hosts for designing jobs in most organisations. These principles focus on standardising, planning and improving human effort at the operative level to maximise productivity.

According to Taylor, “the work of every workman is fully planned out by the management at least one day in advance and each man receives in most cases complete written instructions, describing in detail the task which he is to accomplish. This task specifies not only what is to be done but how is to be done and the exact time allowed for doing it.” 

Scientific management offers certain principles for job design that are described as follows: 

(i)  Optimisation of Technology

Through scientific study and analysis, the best method for doing a task is developed. 

(ii)Task Fragmentation

Every task should be divided into small segments to improve technical efficiency. 

(iii) Specialisation

Workers should be selected to perform specific tasks to ensure narrow specialisation.

(iv) Standardisation

The method so discovered is standardised through time and motion studies.

(v)  Individual Responsibility

Each worker is made responsible for a single operation forming part of the total task. One person-one job concept thereby becomes the building block of the organisation.

(vi) Economic Incentive

Monetary compensation should be used to reward efficient performance.

(vii) Training

Workers so selected are trained most efficiently for performing the task. Fragmentation of tasks into simple operations requiring a low level of skill helps to reduce considerably the time and cost involved in training.

These principles appear to offer a task-centred and rational approach to job design. Standardisation, simplification and specialisation help to make jobholders experts leading to higher productivity and lower costs. 

Problems related to job design

But jobs designed based on these principles have some problems which are described below: 

(a) Continuation

Due to narrow specialisation and task fragmentation, the same operations have to be repeated many times. Such repetition causes boredom in the absence of a variety of tasks. 

(b) Narrow Specialisation

A worker performs only one element of the total task. As a result, his full potential is not utilised. The job offers no challenge to the worker.

(c) Mechanical Pacing

In assembly line jobs, workers have to maintain a regular pace of work. Machine rather than worker controls the workplace. This causes frustration to workers. Employees lose interest in their jobs because they have almost no freedom in the choice of work techniques and methods.

(d) Reduction in Work Cycle

The time interval at which the operation is repeated becomes small therefore leading to monotony.

(e) Techno-economic Appraisal

Technical efficiency is used to judge performance over-looking human satisfaction. Economic rewards reduce the worker to the status of an economic man. 

(f) Lack of Job Pride

Due to narrow specialisation, no employee produces an identifiable end product. Employees cannot take pride in their output.

(g) Little Interaction

On account of the need for constant attention on a narrow job, employees get little opportunity to interact socially with one another. 

Thus, the engineering approach to job design fails to take into account the psychological and social needs of workers. As a consequence, the majority of employees become alienated and frustrated. At the individual level, it may lead to poor mental health, physical illness, chronic depression, and maladjustment to family and community life. At the organisational level, poor quality consciousness, low morale, high labour turnover and absenteeism, loss of interest in work, resistance to change and even sabotage can occur. Jobs designed based on the classical approach are not appropriate in the modern environment characterised by improved education, increased awareness, and rising expectations of the workforce.

Behavioural Approach

The theories proposed by Frederick Herzberg, Elton Mayo and other human relations specialists led to a search for alternative methods of designing jobs. This was done to avoid the negative effects of simplification and standardisation. Various strategies such as job redesign, job enrichment, work structuring, participative system and other similar strategies have been developed to improve the quality of work life. All these approaches aim to design jobs in such a way that it will improve employee satisfaction, motivation, and productivity which ensures technical efficiency.  By implementing these strategies, organizations can create a more engaging and gratifying work environment that meets the social and psychological needs of workers. These strategies foster a culture of innovation, collaboration and continuous improvement, which can lead to better business results and a more satisfied workforce.

The most popular behavioural approach to job redesign is the Job characteristics model of Hackman and Oldham. This model is based on the assumption that three key psychological states of a job holder determine his motivation, satisfaction and performance on the job.

These states are –

  1. Experienced meaningfulness –  It refers to the extent to which an employee perceives his job as important and valuable.
  2. Experienced responsibility – This refers to the extent to which an employee feels a personal sense of accountability for the results of their work.
  3. Knowledge of results – It refers to the information that employees receive regarding their job performance. 

When employees experience these three states mentioned above while on the job, they are more likely to feel motivated.  They work hard to perform well to the extent these states are important to the worker. Therefore, it is imperative to incorporate satisfaction, motivation and performance in job design. This will enhance the overall work experience of the employees and also improve productivity and job satisfaction.

These psychological states are generated by the following core job dimensions:

  1. Skill Variety: The degree to which the job requires the person to do different activities so that he can use several different skills and talents. 
  2. Task Identity: It refers to the extent to which the job requires the completion of a complete and identifiable piece of work.
  3. Task Significance: It refers to the extent to which the job has a substantial impact on the work and lives of others both inside and outside the organisation. 
  4. Autonomy:  It refers to the extent to which the job provides independence, freedom, and discretion to the individual in scheduling the work and in deciding the procedures to be used to do the job.
  5. Feedback: It refers to the extent to which the job provides people with clear and direct information about job performance and outcomes. 

As can be seen from Figure the core job characteristics of skill variety, task identity and task significance contribute to a sense of meaningful work. Autonomy is directly related to the feeling of personal responsibility for results and feedback is related to knowledge about own performance.

These three critical psychological states in turn lead to certain outcomes for both the job and the jobholder. The psychological states provide intrinsic motivation only for those individuals who have a great need for growth and learning on the job. This desire for a personal feeling of accomplishment and growth is known as a ‘growth need’ which serves as a motivator.

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