Learning Objectives

Learn around the history of job design approaches.Consider alternatives to task specialization.Identify job attributes that increase motivating potential.Learn how to empower employees.

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Many of us assume the most vital motivator at work is pay. Yet, studies suggest to a various factor together the major influence over worker motivation—job design. Just how a task is designed has actually a significant impact on employee motivation, project satisfaction, commitment to an organization, absenteeism, and turnover.

The inquiry of how to properly style jobs so the employees are much more productive and much more satisfied has actually received fist from managers and researchers because the beginning of the 20th century. We will review significant approaches to task design beginning from its at an early stage history.

Scientific Management and also Job Specialization

Perhaps the earliest effort to design jobs came during the era of scientific management. Scientific management is a philosophy based on the concepts of Frederick Taylor as presented in his 1911 book, Principles of scientific Management. Taylor’s publication is amongst the many influential books of the 20th century; the concepts presented had a major influence over how work was arranged in the complying with years. Taylor to be a mechanically engineer in the manufacturing industry. The saw work being excellent haphazardly, with just workers in charge. He witnessed the inefficiencies innate in employees’ manufacturing methods and also argued the a manager’s project was to carefully setup the work to be performed by employees. He likewise believed that clinical methods could be supplied to increase productivity. Together an example, Taylor found that instead of allowing workers to use their own shovels, together was the custom at the time, giving specially design shovels raised productivity. Further, by giving training and particular instructions, he to be able to dramatically reduce the number of laborers forced to handle each job.

Scientific management proposed a number of ideas that have actually been prominent in job design in the adhering to years. Critical idea to be to minimization waste by identifying the most efficient technique to do the job. Utilizing time–motion studies, management might determine just how much time each job would require and plan the work so the the job might be carry out as efficiently as possible. Therefore, standardized job performance methods were crucial element the scientific monitoring techniques. Each job would be closely planned in advance, and employees would be paid to execute the work in the method specified by management.

Furthermore, project specialization was among the significant advances that this approach. Project specialization involves breaking down jobs right into their simplest components and assigning them to employee so that each human would do a select number of tasks in a recurring manner. There space a variety of advantages to task specialization. Breaking tasks into basic components and making them recurring reduces the skill demands of the jobs and decreases the effort and also cost that staffing. Training times because that simple, repetitive jobs tend to be much shorter as well. ~ above the other hand, from a motivational perspective, these work are boring and repetitive and therefore connected with negative outcomes such together absenteeism. Also, job specialization is ineffective in rapidly transforming environments where employees may need to change their method according come the requirements of the situation.

Today, Taylorism has a bad reputation, and also it is regularly referred to as the “dark ages” of administration when employees’ social motives were ignored. Yet, it is crucial to acknowledge the fundamental change in administration mentality brought about by Taylor’s ideas. Because that the very first time, managers realized their role in influencing the output levels that employees. The ide of scientific monitoring has had actually a lasting impact on how work is organized. Taylor’s job-related paved the method to automation and standardization that is virtually universal in today’s workplace. Assembly lines wherein each worker performs basic tasks in a repetitive manner space a direct an outcome of task specialization efforts. Job specialization eventually found its way to the company industry as well. Among the greatest innovations of the well known McDonald brothers’ first fast-food restaurant to be the applications of scientific management values to their operations. They separated up the tasks so the one human being took the orders when someone else made the burgers, one more person applied the condiments, and yet one more wrapped them. With this level that efficiency, customers normally received your order within 1 minute.

Rotation, task Enlargement, and also Enrichment

One that the early options to project specialization was task rotation. Project rotation requires moving employee from job to task at consistent intervals. When employees periodically relocate to various jobs, the monotonous aspects of project specialization can be relieved. For example, Maids global Inc., a firm that offers cleaning solutions to households and businesses, utilizes task rotation so the maids clean the kitchen in one home would clean the bedroom in a different one. Using this technique, among others, the agency is able to minimize its turnover level. In a supermarket study, cashiers were rotated to work in different departments. Together a result of the rotation, employees’ stress and anxiety levels to be reduced, together measured by their blood pressure. Moreover, they experienced much less pain in their neck and shoulders. Psychophysiological stress reactions, trapezius muscle activity, and also neck and also shoulder pain amongst female cashiers before and also after introduction of project rotation. 

Job rotation has a number of advantages because that organizations. The is one effective method for employee to acquire new skills and in turn for organizations to rise the in its entirety skill level of their employees. As soon as workers relocate to different positions, they space cross-trained come perform various tasks, thereby increasing the adaptability of managers to assign employees to various parts that the organization when needed. In addition, project rotation is a method to move knowledge in between departments. Rotation may additionally have the advantage of to reduce employee boredom, depending upon the nature that the work the employee is performing at a offered time. From the employee standpoint, rotation is a benefit, because they acquire brand-new skills that save them marketable in the lengthy run.

Is rotation used only at lower levels of one organization? Anecdotal evidence says that companies properly rotate high-level employee to train managers and increase development in the company. Because that example, Nokia provides rotation at every levels, such together assigning lawyers come act as nation managers or moving network designers to handset design. This technique is assumed to bring a fresh perspective come old problems. Wipro Ltd., India’s information technology giant the employs around 80,000 workers, uses a 3-year arrangement to groom future leader of the agency by rotating lock through different jobs.

Job enlargement advert to broadening the work performed by employee to add more variety. By offering employees several various tasks to be performed, together opposed to limiting their activities to a small number of tasks, organizations hope to minimize boredom and monotony and utilize person resources more effectively. Job enlargement may have comparable benefits to job rotation, since it may also involve to teach employees many tasks. Research suggests that when work are enlarged, employees watch themselves as being capable of performing a more comprehensive set of tasks. There is some evidence that task enlargement is beneficial, because it is positively concerned employee satisfaction and higher quality customer services, and also it increases the opportunities of capturing mistakes. At the exact same time, the results of project enlargement might depend ~ above the type of enlargement. Because that example, job enlargement consisting of adding tasks that are very an easy in nature had an adverse consequences on employee satisfaction with the job and resulted in fewer errors being caught. Alternatively, giving employees an ext tasks that call for them to it is in knowledgeable in different locations seemed to have more positive effects.

Job enrichment is a project redesign an approach that permits workers more control over just how they execute their very own tasks. This approach enables employees to take it on more responsibility. Together an alternate to project specialization, service providers using job enrichment might experience optimistic outcomes, such as diminished turnover, increased productivity, and reduced absences. This might be because employees who have actually the authority and responsibility over their work have the right to be more efficient, remove unnecessary tasks, take shortcuts, and also increase their all at once performance. At the same time, there is proof that task enrichment may sometimes reason dissatisfaction among details employees. The reason might be the employees who room given added autonomy and responsibility might expect greater levels of salary or other types of compensation, and also if this expectation is no met they might feel frustrated. One more thing to remember is that project enrichment is not an ideal for everyone. Not all employees desire to have regulate over exactly how they work, and also if they execute not have actually this desire, they may end up being frustrated with an enriched job.

Job characteristics Model

The job characteristics model is just one of the most influential attempts to architecture jobs with raised motivational properties. Propose by Hackman and also Oldham, the model explains five core job dimensions causing three critical psychological states, causing work-related outcomes.


Figure 6.3 The Job features Model has 5 core task dimensions. Source: adapted from Hackman, J. R., & Oldham, G. R. (1975). Development of the task diagnostic survey. Journal of used Psychology, 60, 159–170.

Skill variety refers come the level to i beg your pardon the project requires a person to utilize multiple high-level skills. A automobile wash employee who job is composed of directing customers right into the automated vehicle wash demonstrates low levels of ability variety, vice versa, a car wash employee who acts as a cashier, maintains carwash equipment, and also manages the list of chemicals demonstrates high skill variety.

Task identification refers to the level to i m sorry a person is in fee of perfect an identifiable item of work-related from start to finish. A web designer who designs parts of a net site will have actually low job identity, since the work blends in through other internet designers’ work; in the finish it will be difficult for any one person to insurance claim responsibility for the final output. The net master who designs whole Web site will have high task identity.

Task significance refers to whether a person’s task substantially affects other people’s work, health, or well-being. A janitor who cleans the floors at an office building may uncover the job low in significance, reasoning it is no a an extremely important job. However, janitors clean the floors in ~ a hospital may see their function as crucial in help patients get better. As soon as they feel the their jobs are significant, employees often tend to feel the they space making an influence on their environment, and also their feeling of self-worth room boosted.

Autonomy is the level to i m sorry a person has actually the liberty to decide exactly how to do his or her tasks. Together an example, an instructor that is forced to monitor a predetermined textbook, extending a provided list that topics using a mentioned list of class activities, has low autonomy. On the various other hand, one instructor who is totally free to select the textbook, architecture the food content, and use any relevant materials when carrying lectures has greater levels of autonomy. Autonomy increases an ideas at work, yet it also has various other benefits. Providing employees autonomy at work-related is a an essential to individual as well as agency success, since autonomous employee are cost-free to select how to perform their jobs and also therefore have the right to be much more effective. Lock are additionally less likely to embrace a “this is not my job” method to their occupational environment and instead it is in proactive (do what needs to be excellent without wait to it is in told what to do) and also creative. The an effect of this resourcefulness have the right to be greater company performance. Because that example, a Cornell university study shows that little businesses that offered employees autonomy flourished four times much more than those that did not. For example, Gucci’s CEO Robert Polet points to the level that autonomy that was given while working at unilever PLC as a vital to his advance of leadership talents.

Feedback describes the level to which world learn how efficient they are being in ~ work. Feedback in ~ work may come from other people, such together supervisors, peers, subordinates, and also customers, or it might come indigenous the project itself. A salesperson who provides presentations come potential clients but is not educated of the clients’ decisions, has low feedback at work. If this human being receives notice that a sale was made based upon the presentation, feedback will be high.

The relationship between feedback and job performance is more controversial. In other words, the mere visibility of feedback is not enough for employee to feel encouraged to do better. In fact, a evaluation of this literature shows that in about one-third the the cases, feedback to be detrimental to performance. In enhancement to whether feedback is present, the authorize of feedback (positive or negative), whether the person is all set to obtain the feedback, and the manner in i beg your pardon feedback was provided will all determine whether employee feel urged or demotivated together a result of feedback.

According to the job attributes model, the existence of these 5 core project dimensions leader employees to suffer three psychological states: They see their work-related as meaningful, they feel responsible because that the outcomes, and they obtain knowledge that results. These three emotional states consequently are related to hopeful outcomes such as overall job satisfaction, internal motivation, greater performance, and also lower absenteeism and also turnover. Research reflects that the end of these three mental states, proficient meaningfulness is the most important for employee attitudes and behaviors, and also it is the crucial mechanism through which the 5 core job dimensions operate.

Are all five job features equally valuable for employees? Hackman and Oldham’s version proposes that the five attributes will not have uniform effects. Instead, castle proposed the complying with formula to calculate the encouraging potential of a offered job:

Note the the 5 job qualities are no objective functions of a job. Two employees functioning in the same job might have really different perceptions concerning how lot skill variety, job identity, job significance, autonomy, or feedback the project affords. In various other words, inspiring potential is in the eye the the beholder. This is both an excellent and bad news. The negative news is that even though a manager may design a project that is supposed to motivate employees, some employees might not discover the project to be motivational. The good news is that sometimes it is feasible to increase employee an ideas by help employees readjust their perspective about the job. Because that example, employee laying bricks at a building site may feel their work are low in significance, but by stating that lock are structure a residence for others, your perceptions around their job might be changed.

Do every employees mean to have a project that has actually a high motivating potential? research has displayed that the desire for the five core job qualities is not universal. One element that affects exactly how much the these characteristics people desire or need is development need strength. Growth need strength explains the degree to i beg your pardon a human has higher order needs, such as self-esteem and self-actualization. Once an employee’s expectation native his job consists of such higher order needs, employees will have high-growth require strength, whereas those who mean their project to salary the bills and also satisfy more basic needs will have actually low-growth need strength. Not surprisingly, research shows that those with high-growth require strength respond much more favorably to tasks with a high encouraging potential. It also seems that an employee’s career stage influences how crucial the five dimensions are. For example, once employees are new to an organization, task meaning is a positive affect over job satisfaction, but autonomy may be a an adverse influence.

OB Toolbox: rise the Feedback you Receive: seek It!

If you are not receiving sufficient feedback on the job, it is far better to seek it rather of trying to guess exactly how you are doing. Take into consideration seeking consistent feedback from her boss. This also has the included benefit the signaling come the manager that you care about your performance and also want to it is in successful.Be actual in your desire to learn. As soon as seeking feedback, your aim must be enhancing yourself as opposed to producing the impression the you are a encouraged employee. If her manager thinks that you are regulating impressions rather than genuinely do the efforts to boost your performance, seek feedback might hurt you.Develop a good relationship v your manager. This has the advantage of offering you much more feedback in the first place. It also has the upside of making it easier to ask straight questions about your very own performance.Consider finding dependable peers who deserve to share information with you concerning your performance. Your manager is no the only helpful source of feedback.Be gracious as soon as you get feedback. If you immediately go ~ above the defensive the very first time girlfriend receive negative feedback, there may not be a next time. Remember, even if receiving feedback, hopeful or negative, feels uncomfortable, the is a gift. You have the right to improve your performance making use of feedback, and also people giving an unfavorable feedback probably feel they space risking your an excellent will by gift honest. It is in thankful and also appreciative as soon as you receive any kind of feedback and also do not shot to convince the person that that is inaccurate (unless there room factual mistakes).

Sources: adjusted from concepts in Jackman, J. M., & Strober, M. H. (2003, April). Fear of feedback. Harvard business Review, 81(4), 101–107; Wing, L., Xu, H., Snape, E. (2007). Feedback-seeking behavior and also leader-member exchange: carry out supervisor-attributed engine matter? Academy of administration Journal, 50, 348–363; Lee, H. E., Park, H. S., Lee, T. S., & Lee, D. W. (2007). Relationships between LMX and subordinates’ feedback-seeking behaviors. Social habits & Personality: An global Journal, 35, 659–674.


One of the contemporary approaches to inspiring employees with job architecture is empowerment. The principle of empowerment extends the idea the autonomy. Empowerment might be characterized as the remove of conditions that make a human being powerless. The idea behind empowerment is the employees have actually the ability to do decisions and perform your jobs efficiently if monitoring removes specific barriers. Thus, instead of dictating roles, providers should create an environment where employees thrive, feel motivated, and have discretion to make decisions about the content and also context of their jobs. Employees that feel empowered believe that their work is meaningful. They often tend to feel that they are qualified of performing their work effectively, have the capability to influence just how the agency operates, and can execute their tasks in any means they watch fit, without close supervision and other interference. These liberties permit employees to feeling powerful. In cases of really high levels of empowerment, employees decide what tasks to perform and also how to do them, in a sense regulating themselves.

Research has actually distinguished between structural elements of empowerment and also felt empowerment. Structure empowerment refers to the elements of the work atmosphere that offer employees discretion, autonomy, and also the ability to do their jobs effectively. The idea is the the existence of certain structural factors helps empower people, however in the end empowerment is a perception. The following number demonstrates the relationship in between structural and also felt empowerment. For example, at Harley-Davidson motor Company, employees have actually the government to prevent the manufacturing line if they see a blemish ~ above the product. Leadership style is an additional influence over proficient empowerment. If the manager is controlling, micromanaging, and also bossy, possibilities are that empowerment will certainly not it is in possible. A that company structure has actually a duty in determining empowerment together well. Factory organized roughly teams, such as the Saturn tree of general Motors Corporation, deserve to still authorize employees, in spite of the existence of a classic hierarchy. Access to information is regularly mentioned as a vital factor in empowering employees. If employees space not given information to make an notified decision, empowerment attempts will certainly fail. Therefore, the partnership between accessibility to information and also empowerment is well established. Finally, empowering individual employees cannot happen in a bubble, but instead depends on producing a climate the empowerment transparent the entire organization.


Figure 6.4 The empowerment process starts with structure that leads to felt empowerment. Source: based on the ideas in Seibert, S. E., Silver, S. R., & Randolph, W. A. (2004).

Empowerment the employees has tendency to be beneficial for organizations, due to the fact that it is pertained to outcomes such as employee innovativeness, managerial effectiveness, employee commitment to the organization, customer satisfaction, task performance, and behaviors that benefit the company and other employees. In ~ the same time, empowerment may not have to be suitable for all employees. Those individuals with low development strength or low success need might not advantage as strong from empowerment. Moreover, the idea of empowerment is not always easy to implement, due to the fact that some supervisors may feel threatened as soon as subordinates are empowered. If employees execute not feel ready for empowerment, they may likewise worry around the enhanced responsibility and accountability. Therefore, prepare employees because that empowerment by carefully selecting and training lock is necessary to the success of empowerment interventions.

OB Toolbox: Tips for Empowering Employees

Change the company structure so that employees have more power on your jobs. If work are strongly managed by organizational actions or if every little decision demands to be approved by a superior, employees space unlikely to feeling empowered. Offer them discretion at work.Provide employees with access to information about things that influence their work. When employees have actually the information they need to do their work well and also understand agency goals, priorities, and also strategy, they are in a much better position to feeling empowered.Make sure that employee know exactly how to perform their jobs. This involves choosing the appropriate people and also investing in continued training and also development.Do no take far employee power. If someone makes a decision, let the stand uneven it threatens the entire company. If management undoes decisions made by employees on a constant basis, employees will certainly not believe in the sincerity of the empowerment initiative.Instill a climate the empowerment in which managers do not frequently step in and also take over. Instead, think in the power of employees to make the many accurate decisions, as long as they space equipped v the appropriate facts and resources.

Sources: adjusted from concepts in Forrester, R. (2000). Empowerment: Rejuvenating a potent idea. Academy of administration Executive, 14, 67–79; Spreitzer, G. M. (1996). Society structural attributes of emotional empowerment. Academy of monitoring Journal, 39, 483–504.

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Key Takeaway

Job field of expertise is the earliest approach to task design, originally explained by the work of Frederick Taylor. Project specialization is efficient yet leads come boredom and monotony. Early choices to task specialization include job rotation, task enlargement, and also job enrichment. Research shows that there are five job contents that boost the encouraging potential the a job: ability variety, job identity, job significance, autonomy, and also feedback. Finally, empowerment is a contemporary method of encouraging employees through task design. This approaches rise worker motivation and have actually the potential to increase performance.


Is job rotation primarily perfect to reduced level employees, or is it feasible to usage it at greater levels in the organization?What is the difference in between job enlargement and also job enrichment? i beg your pardon of these viewpoints is an ext useful in managing the boredom and also monotony of job specialization?Consider a task you held in the past. Analyze the job using the structure of the job characteristics model.Does a job with a high encouraging potential motivate every employees? Under which conditions is the model much less successful in motivating employees?How would certainly you increase the empowerment level of employees?