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Using Job Redesign as an Employee Motivation Tool

Keeping employees engaged, satisfied and motivated can be a battle for management and human resources as they figure out the best strategies to increase those within an organization. Typical strategies include rewarding employees, recognizing them and helping them set realistic and attainable goals.

One strategy is the job characteristics model (JCM) which, according to Essentials of Organizational Behavior: 14th Edition, is a framework to see where job elements can be changed to influence employee efforts. The JCM posits that employees gain internal rewards when they can see that the things they’ve learned in their job are helping them perform well on a task they feel invested in. The model was created by J. Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham and it outlines jobs in five core dimensions:

  • Skill variety: Does the job need someone who has a large set of specialized skills?
  • Task identity: Does the job require the worker to complete a specific piece of work, like a car or a building?
  • Task significance: How much does a job influences others’ lives?
  • Autonomy: How much freedom and independence does the job provide?
  • Feedback: Does the job provide clear feedback on the employee’s performance?

One practice that draws from the JCM is job redesign. If implemented correctly, job redesign can help employees feel more invested in their work and gain a deeper understanding of not only what they do, but why they do it.

From Job Design to Redesign: Why Both Are Vital

Job design refers to the planning of a job – “including all its structural and social aspects and their effect on the employee,” according to John W. Slocum, Jr. in Job Redesign: Improving the Quality of Work Life.

Job design encompasses a few dimensions that Slocum outlines:

  • Job enrichment
  • Job enlargement
  • Job engineering
  • Sociotechnical
  • Goal setting
  • Job rotation

There are also many factors affecting job design, which include personnel systems, unions, working conditions, managerial style and climate, individual differences, technology, organizational structure, wages, salaries and benefits.

By restructuring the elements of a job, executives and human resource managers can redesign that job. Job redesign is primarily performed as a way to motivate and inspire employees.

There are a few models of job design that stem from different discipline bases – the mechanistic model came from industrial engineering, the motivational model from organizational psychology, the perceptual model from human factors, and experimental psychology and the biological model from ergonomics and medical science. Each model comes with benefits and costs, but can ultimately help with employee boredom, reduce monotony and increase retention.

How Can Job Redesign Help Employees?

By taking the components of job design, management can help motivate employees in a different way. Employees may be bored and if they are, they will look elsewhere, contributing to organizational turnover rates.

“Redesigning jobs therefore has important practical implications – reduced turnover and increased job satisfaction among them,” according to Essentials of Organizational Behavior: 14th Edition.

One aspect of job redesign is job rotation, or cross-training. Job rotation involves moving task responsibilities from one employee to another. Those in occupations that require monotonous tasks can benefit from this practice.

Singapore Airlines practices this concept among its employees and was rated one of the top 20 safest airlines for 2018, according to AirlineRatings.com.  By cross-training, ticket agents understand what baggage handlers do and vice versa, giving each employee a deeper understanding of what they do and how their job affects the process.

Job redesign can help increase not only job satisfaction, but also the employee’s individual commitment to the organization. A reduction in boredom and increase in motivation benefits both the employee and the company.

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