Meet Omer. He has been working at a company since the past 3 years as a content writer. His work involves writing the blog, sending it across to the editor for proofreading, and then to the SEO expert for optimization.
However, lately, Omer has been feeling unsatisfied with his work, which he says has become redundant and boring. He has started taking more leaves, stopped participating in group activities and believes that his work doesn’t contribute to organization’s overall success. If his manager, Rohit, hadn’t noticed the pattern, the company would have lost its top performer.
Rohit acted fast. He revised Omer’s goals and task list and signed him up for in-house training and development opportunities. Now, Omer is creating the briefs, writing the content, optimizing it for SEO, proofreading and publishing it on time.
He did ask for help here and there but owned it completely at the end of the day. Through this, he is directly involved in bringing traffic to their website, thereby affecting the number of leads and sales coming in. Today, he is as enthusiastic about his work as he was when he first joined the organization.
This is a perfect example of implementing a successful job enrichment strategy.
But the bottom line? Fulfilling jobs can also become stale. Work on finding solutions through the lens of Job Enrichment to make your disinterested employees motivated, engaged, committed and energized once again.
Why has the focus moved to employees and their needs anyway?
The answer- The balance of power has shifted from employer to employee. With talent today having the upper hand in the corporate world, organizations need to provide modern, actionable solutions to fight low engagement rates.
In a Deloitte survey, 80% of respondent organizations said their employees are overwhelmed with the information and activity at work. Yet, less than 8% of them have strategies in place to solve it.
What is Job Enrichment?
A Gallup study found that 26% of employees are actively disengaged. Among the broader population, the percentage is far higher. While companies are well aware of this, there is immense pressure on leaders to revert the situation as engagement is directly proportional to retention.
Job Enrichment, lesser known but highly effective, is a fundamental part of strategies directed at motivating, re-engaging, and satisfying employees by redesigning their jobs, and adding challenges, responsibilities and tasks.
In simpler words, it means giving your talent additional authority, autonomy, and control over the way their job is accomplished.
The ultimate aim? Retaining employees, cutting recruitment costs and letting the bottom line remain unaffected.
Let us start by identifying the primary drivers of motivation- Achievement, responsibility, recognition, growth, advancement and the work itself.
Job Enrichment works by focusing directly on the growth, advancement, responsibility and work aspects while paving way for achievement and recognition indirectly through feedback and performance appraisals.
Easier said than done. Merely adding more of the same responsibilities related to an employee’s current position is not considered job enrichment. That is Job Enlargement, covered in the next sections of this article.
How do managers work on creating the ideal job design?
According to Psychologist J. Richard Hackman and economist Greg Oldham, there are 5 factors of job design that contribute to employees’ enjoyment of a job:
Skill Variety: Increasing the number of skills that individuals use while performing an assigned task
Task Significance: Allotting work that directly impacts the organization’s revenue, brand image or that affects its stakeholders
Feedback: Giving more, valuable feedback for people’s work and increasing the recognition typically received
Autonomy: Offering the freedom and independence to let employees choose when and how work is done, including their involvement in decision making
Task Identity: Enabling employees to perform a job from start to finish. The way a company’s jobs are designed needs to match the skills and interests of its employees. The above factors largely help people to be more content and less stressed with their work.
Job Enrichment Vs Job Enlargement Vs Job Rotation Vs Job Crafting:
Often thought to be synonymous with each other, Job Enlargement varies sharply from Job Enrichment. So does job rotation. However, Job crafting is similar to job enrichment in certain aspects. The table below explains the differences between job enrichment, job enlargement, job rotation, and job crafting.
Advantages of Job enrichment:
- High-quality work performance delivery
- Higher work satisfaction rates
- Better employee experience
- Increased retention
- Lower absenteeism
- Reduced employee turnover
- Increased employee motivation
- Form of employee empowerment
- Reduced workload on seniors
- Increased employee satisfaction
- Makes employees less likely to seek a job elsewhere
- Happier employees
- Increased accountability of employees’ own work by having them present directly to the senior staff
- Increased employee loyalty
- Helps unfold employee potential
Possible pitfalls of Job Enrichment if not done right:
- For employees with low growth needs, this is more likely to produce frustration than satisfaction
- Some employees might abuse the autonomy and power given to them
- Not every worker is okay with additional responsibilities and work, irrespective of the growth possibility
- Leaders might think that power is being taken from them and instead given to juniors- Giving rise to ego issues
- Job enrichment requires managers to closely with their direct reports, turning it into micromanagement
- Due to the workload, employees might get more stressed than motivated
- Employee participation may not be as expected and it isn’t wise to assume that all workers will accept the plan
- With the increased task list, responsibilities and training sessions, the overall cost of enriching an employee’s job might become too expensive for a company to bear
How to- Enrich your own job (as an employee):
If you wait for your manager to enrich your job, you might have to wait for a long time. Instead, you can make your job enriching by analyzing your current task list, identifying what’s not adding value and what you are interested in doing that will.
While thinking about adding new tasks, it isn’t uncommon to feel stressed over the extra workload. Hence, you have to find the balance between asking your boss for more depth and meaning to your work without ending up with a desk that’s overloaded with new work.
It really isn’t as difficult as it seems.
However, while you are it, ensure that you aren’t trying to diminish someone else’s role if a task you identified for yourself already falls in a co-worker’s kitty.
Here are 5 easy steps to help you make your job more interesting and fulfilling:
Make a list of the responsibilities that cannot wait and those that are primarily done by you alone. The latter are tasks that no one else carries out and you are best at.
To understand the former better, imagine your company’s Vice President is coming to your office for a meeting in an hour. He/She will mostly take work updates too. In this situation, what are the tasks that you will complete first? These are your priorities.
Phase yourself out of unnecessary tasks
Writing long reports no one’s going to look at, filing data entries and assembling stacks of papers that anyone else could be doing, and using 5 steps to solve a problem that takes only 1-2 are some of the mundane things you could eliminate.
This way, you could get more time on your hands to spend doing the work that you really want to. However, even if nobody is glancing at your reports, someone might get angry if you don’t write them. Find the loopholes and understand how to fix them.
Ask for training opportunities
Some companies require additional personnel to do work but do not always have the budget to afford them. If this seems like the situation at your office, step in and ask your manager to let you do the same, provided you get the training and development sessions required to do the job.
This can not only attract positive attention from your manager but also increase your skill set for taking future roles.
Several simple tasks can be merged into one through automation, saving loads of time and resources. When certain tasks become boring and repetitive, ask yourself- “Can I automate this?”
For example- If your job requires you to handle a lot of papers on a daily basis, bring a one-touch rule into place. If reports are your domain, then use Microsoft Access to automate the reports put together in Microsoft Excel.
Find your own path
Sometimes, your manager won’t agree to provide you with a training opportunity or additional responsibilities. In this case, you will have to step up and think about smaller things you can still be a part of to learn and contribute.
Meetings with big clients or amongst senior leaders discussing a business prospect are good starters. Request your manager to let you be a part of them if it is within your bounds.
If that doesn’t work out, explore free or inexpensive training classes outside of work that teach you something new.
How to- Enrich others’ jobs (as a manager):
If you’re a manager, you need to figure out which combination of enrichment options will lead to increased performance and productivity.
Granting additional authority to employees in their activities by trusting them to make a presentation to a second-level manager is one of the ways. Before going ahead, don’t assume what people want.
Instead, get into the shoes of employees and understand what they actually want. No strategy will be successful if you are directing efforts towards the wrong jobs and making the wrong changes. Below are ways to help employees express their talent and improve overall HR metrics:
Conduct pulse surveys and ESPs
As a foremost step, listen to what your real audience- your employees- wants. While some employees are more vocal about their opinions, others are not. Consider this before trying to merely ask their suggestions verbally.
Pulse surveys are a great way to understand your employees’ interests and requirements. Employee Suggestion Programs work in a similar way. Though often overlooked by HRs, ESPs give you the information you need.
It is best to take suggestions from those who will be most affected by the changes.
Explore your options
As managers, you can only do so much to enrich employees’ jobs. Find your limit and explore the possibilities within these boundaries. Make a list of things you can offer- Be it training classes, L&D opportunities, job rotations, authority in certain tasks and more.
Combine work units
Grouping interrelated tasks together – otherwise called creating natural work units – allows employees to see the result of their work and the impact it is making. It also helps in creating ownership and increased task significance.
Fall back on regular feedback system
A continuous and effective feedback culture becomes the backbone of successful organizations. Give feedback and suggestions to your employees as and when they require.
Waiting till annual performance appraisal meetings to talk about the first quarter’s mistakes will do no good. 360 degree feedback system, continuous feedback and even one-on-one meetings are excellent supporters.
Give autonomy and purpose
It is a known fact that people work better when they know their work is contributing to the bigger picture. Take healthcare workers for example- During the covid era, they tirelessly gave their best in treating patients because they knew they were saving lives from a global pandemic.
Ofcourse you don’t have to be saving lives to get the same motivation, but you get my point, right? Apart from a sense of purpose, giving autonomy to employees- as small as letting them determine when to take breaks or even making them responsible for a big project- increases employee engagement.
Pave way for automation:
By leaving mundane work for technology to do, allow employees to spend time doing what they are interested in. It can be learning a new skill or even taking a break. Giving them this time can also help them attend to the tasks that need immediate attention.
Enriching the job makes it more interesting and motivating. In this way, employees work to actually add value to the organization instead of wanting to quit every day. Your responsibility as a manager is to figure out which combination of enrichment options will lead to increased performance and productivity.
Motivated and engaged employees are less likely to leave the organization- increasing your retention rate and maintaining a healthy attrition rate. Don’t wait for end-of-year assessments to make meaningful changes, instead track their work through an efficient performance management system like Keka to know when to make the right decision before it’s too late.