5 Job Design

Learning Objectives

After completing this session, you will be able to:

  • define and discuss the concept of job design.
  • consider alternatives to job specialization.


Job design is next to . Job design involves systematic attempts to organize tasks, duties and responsibilities into a unit of work to achieve certain objectives. Job design integrates the work content and qualifications required for each job that meets the needs of employee and the organization. Job design makes the job highly specialized and well designed jobs are important in attracting and retaining a motivated work force.

According to Michael Armstrong, “Job Design is the process of deciding on the contents of a job in terms of its duties and responsibilities, on the methods to be used in carrying out the job, in terms of techniques, systems and procedures, and on the relationships that should exist between the job holder and his superior subordinates and colleagues.” Job Design is affected by three categories of factors:

Organizational Factors: The organizational factors that affect job design are characteristics of task, work flow, ergonomics and work practices.

  • Characteristic of task: Each task consists of 3 elements, namely, , executing and controlling. Job design involves the assembly of a number of tasks into a job or a group of jobs. A job may require an employee to perform a variety of connected task. All these characteristics of jobs are taken into consideration for job design.
  • Workflow: The flow of work in an organization is strongly influenced by the nature of the product. This product usually suggests the sequence and balance between jobs if the work is to be completed efficiently.
  • Ergonomics: Ergonomics is concerned with the designing and shaping of jobs as per the physical abilities and characteristics of individuals so that they can perform their jobs effectively.
  • Work Practices: Work practices are the set methods of performing work. This can affect the job design as there is little flexibility in designing the job especially if the work practices are approved by employee unions.

Environmental Factors: Environmental factors affect job design. Environmental factors include employee abilities & availability and Social & Cultural expectations.

  • Employee Abilities & Availability: Abilities and availability of people plays an important role while designing jobs. Due attention needs to be given to the employee who will actually perform the job.
  • Social And Cultural Expectations: Jobs should be designed keeping the employees in mind. Due to increase in literacy rate and knowledge, employees are now more aware and only perform jobs that are to their liking and match their profile.

Behavioral Factors: Behavioral factors are related to human needs and they need to be satisfied properly. Behavioral elements include the following:

  1. Feedback: Employee should be given proper feedback about his job performance. This will enable the employee to improve his performance and complete the job in a proper manner.
  2. Autonomy: Employee should be given proper autonomy required to perform the work. The absence of autonomy may lead to poor performance on the part of employees.
  3. Use of Abilities: The job should be designed in such a manner that an employee will be able to use his abilities fully and perform the job effectively.
  4. Variety: Absence of variety in the job assigned may lead to boredom. Adequate scope to variety factor should be given while designing a job.


Job Simplification: In the job simplification technique, the job is simplified or specialized. A given job is divided into small sub-parts and each part is assigned to one individual employee. Job simplification is introduced when job designers feel that the jobs are not specialized enough.

A) : Job rotation implies systematic movement of employees from one job to the other. Job remains unchanged but employees performing them shift from one job to the other. With job rotation, an employee is given an opportunity to perform different jobs, which enriches his skills, experience and ability to perform different jobs. It is the process of preparing employees at a lower level to replace someone at the next higher level. It is generally done for the designations that are crucial for the effective and efficient functioning of the organization. By this to some extent boredom is reduced.

However, for this people interest is primary importance. By this they can also learn new things, new techniques, and new ways of doing better work. It may also happen that over a period of time they will be finding a job for which they are better suitable. They can also contribute in a better way to achieve the goals of the organization.

This aspect of job rotation can be seen widely applied in Retail scenario, where end user or consumer is in direct presence all through. This has for large extent reduced boredom, reduced irregularities due to familiarity, acquired new skills & assuming new & varied responsibilities. In other words it will lead to better job satisfaction, which is the ultimate goal for better contribution.

B) : Job enlargement means expanding the scope of the job. Many tasks and duties are aggregated and assigned to a single job. It is opposite to job simplification. Job enlargement is an extension of Job rotation, exposing the people to several jobs without changing the job duties to be performed. He is taken off the boring job for a while & is allowed to take up a related task & so on. Monotony is relieved temporarily. Critics are of the opinion that this approach involves nothing more than having to perform several boring jobs rather than one. Job enlargement is to expand in several tasks than just to do one single task. It is also the horizontal expansion of a job. It involves the addition of tasks at the same level of skill and responsibility. It is done to keep workers from getting bored. This would also be considered multi-tasking by which one person would do several persons jobs, saving the company money and man hours that normally would be paid to additional workers.

Small companies may not have as many opportunities for promotions, so they try to motivate employees through job enlargement. For example when I worked at a restaurant. I would bus the tables, wash the dishes, and run food upstairs. If they had just one person doing each job on the same night, it would cost the management three times the money. This adds more functions; increases variety of tasks & this is short lived. It cannot enrich the human content of job. The ultimate answer is Job Enrichment.

C) : Job enrichment means making the job rich in its contents so that an employee will get more satisfaction while performing that job. It upgrades the responsibility, scope and challenge. A vast majority of the jobs are repetitive & monotonous in nature. This results in reducing the motivational content& human element of the job with repercussions on performance.

The central focus of job enrichment is giving people more control over their work (lack of control is a key cause of stress, and therefore of unhappiness.) Where possible, allow them to take on tasks that are typically done by supervisors. This means that they have more influence over planning, executing, and evaluating the jobs they do. In enriched jobs, people complete activities with increased freedom, independence, and responsibility. They also receive plenty of feedback, so that they can assess and correct their own performance.

Job Enrichment tries to embellish the job with factors of : Achievement – Recognition – Increased Responsibilities – Self Involvement – Opportunities for Growth – Advancement – Increased Competence.

Job Enrichment is concerned with redesigning the job to include a variety of work content; that gives the person more autonomy & responsibility for planning, directing & controlling his own performance & provide opportunity for personal growth & meaningful work experience.

Job Enrichment also important for decentralization of decision-making rights to individual over areas that directly affect his task functions. The emphasis is on the result of efforts rather than the procedure to carry out the work, thus making the job result oriented. This also results in motivation, satisfaction in believing oneself to be personally accountable for results & being able to know how satisfactory ones efforts are. By Job Enrichment, condition or state of human capabilities which were not fully utilized & creation of frustration among the individual is removed to the extent possible.

Key Takeaways

  • The key inputs for a strong job design are a task, motivation, resource allocation and a compensation system
  • Job specialization is the earliest approach to job design, originally described by the work of Frederick Taylor. Job specialization is efficient but leads to boredom and monotony. Early alternatives to job specialization include job rotation, job enlargement, and job enrichment. 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. Finally, empowerment is a contemporary way of motivating employees through job design. These approaches increase worker motivation and have the potential to increase performance.


Competency mapping identifies an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. The aim is to enable the person to better understand himself or herself and to point out where career development efforts need to be directed.

Competencies are derived from specific job families within the organization and are often grouped around categories such as strategy, relationships, innovation, leadership, risk-taking, decision-making, emotional intelligence, etc. So far as the way to go about for competency mapping is concerned, the first step is job analysis, where the company needs to list core competency requirements for the job concerned. The next step should be development of a competency scale for the job on the parameters previously identified.

The actual mapping of employees can be a self-done exercise or done by others like superiors. It can also be done by using the 360-degree method where peers, first reports and customers also rate the employee.

The steps involved in competency mapping are presented below:

  1. Conduct a job analysis by asking incumbents to complete a position information questionnaire (PIQ). This can be provided for incumbents to complete, or used as a basis for conducting one-on-one interviews using the PIQ as a guide. The primary goal is to gather from incumbents what they feel are the key behaviours necessary to perform their respective jobs.
  2. Using the results of the job analysis, a competency-based is developed. It is developed after carefully analysing the input from the represented group of incumbents and converting it to standard competencies.
  3. With a competency-based job description, mapping the competencies can be done. The competencies of the respective job description become factors for assessment on the performance evaluation. Using competencies will help to perform more objective evaluations based on displayed or not displayed behaviours.
  4. Taking the competency mapping one step further, one can use the results of one’s evaluation to identify in what competencies individuals need additional development or training. This will help in focusing on training needs required to achieve the goals of the position and company and help the employees develop toward the ultimate success of the organization.

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