With changing demographics and a more competitive job market, human resources is more challenged than ever before to hire, engage, maintain, and keep employees happy and motivated. Workers want more choice and flexibility in how they approach tasks, for example, more opportunities to work collaboratively. They look for more opportunities to change duties, for exploration, to learn, and to advance in their career in a less linear way. It is not only desirable but essential for businesses to have motivated employees. Today many human resource professionals are looking at how to design jobs, work environments, and cultures that motivate employees.
Job specialization is the earliest approach to job design. Job specialization is efficient but leads to boredom and monotony. Early alternatives to job specialization include job rotation, job enlargement, and job enrichment.
Job rotation involves moving employees from job-to-job at regular intervals. When employees periodically move to different jobs, the monotonous aspects of job specialization can be relieved.
Job enlargement consists of making a job larger in scope by combining additional task activities into each job through expansion.
Job enrichment is concerned with designing jobs that include a greater variety of work content, require a higher level of knowledge and skill, give the worker more autonomy and responsibility, and provide an opportunity for personal growth.
Research shows that there are five job components that increase the motivating potential of a job: skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback.
- People will be more motivated if they are using a variety of skills in their positions, rather than one thing repeatedly.
- Employees are motivated to complete tasks if they identify with them and have seen them through from start to finish.
- When employees feel that their work is significant to their organization, they are motivated to do well.
- Employees like to be able to make decisions and have flexibility in their roles. Most employees will have lowered motivation if they feel they have no freedom or are being micromanaged.
- Employees need feedback (both positive and negative) in order to stay motivated.
Quality of life in a total job and work environment is also an important part of a positive and motivating experience for employees. The elements included in ‘quality of life’ include open communication equitable reward system, employees’ job security, and satisfaction, participative management, development of employee skill, etc. Since a significant amount of one’s life is spent at work, jobs need to provide satisfaction for sustained interest. Jobs provide employees not only a living but also help in achieving other goals such as economic, social, political, and cultural.
The concept of empowerment extends the idea of autonomy. The idea behind empowerment is that employees have the ability to make decisions and perform their jobs effectively. Instead of dictating roles, companies create an environment where employees thrive, feel motivated, and have the discretion to make decisions about the content and context of their jobs. Empowerment is a contemporary way of motivating employees through job design.
A growing body of research on the relational structures of jobs suggests that interpersonal relationships play a key role in making the work experience important and meaningful to employees. Interpersonal relationships can often enhance employees’ motivations, opportunities, and resources at work.
Though employees need to have some intrinsic motivation (internal motivation) to complete the tasks assigned to them in their roles, they also need to be motivated by their employers. By designing jobs that encompass all of the core characteristics, you can help increase employee motivation, in turn improving performance.
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