Job enrichment arises with the inherent need of employees to be satisfied with their jobs and the tasks that need to be accomplished. Mundane and repetitive tasks and routines might lead employees to lose interest in their jobs and subsequently become dissatisfied and lose morale. Similarly, job content and factors such as job scope, lack of complexity and challenge of routine work duties, job stress, lack of intrinsic or internal motivation, lack of job involvement, and lack of managerial motivation and support can lead to the dissatisfaction of employees. This can have an adverse impact on organizational practices as well as on the productivity of the company.
One way of motivating employees to perform better and increase their commitment to the organization is through redesigning and enriching their job descriptions and task specifications. Job enrichment, sometimes also referred to as vertical role integration, offers greater scope for personal achievement and recognition at work. Job enrichment is an attempt to motivate employees by giving them the opportunity to use a wide range of their abilities, knowledge, and skills. It allows employees to perform beyond their predefined duties, feel valuable to the organization, and further contribute to the realization of organizational goals and targets. It provides scope for challenging and responsible work. Job enrichment also offers opportunities for continuous growth and advancement. Job enrichment can take a variety of forms and occur for many reasons, but it normally involves aspects such as having a variety of tasks, autonomy, and the extent to which the job produces an tangible end result.
Job enrichment can take two forms. The first one is to increase responsibility for decisions traditionally made by supervisors. For instance, certain tasks could include scheduling of work and allocation of tasks. This increased responsibility gives employees the autonomy to perform their duties without direct and strict supervision that occasionally can lead to demotivation and increased stress in the workplace. The second form refers to upgrading jobs to include additional skilled tasks that are not elements of supervisory work, like machine maintenance and ordering supplies. This provides employees with a range of tasks and challenges of varying difficulties that will help them engage in their work. Ideally, these two forms of job enrichment should also contain feedback, encouragement, and communication so as to further motivate employees to go beyond their duties and perform better. Getting feedback on their performance means that errors can be detected and corrected so as to improve the productivity and accountability of workers. Therefore, if employees perform their jobs correctly, then satisfaction is greater, performance is improved, and this leads to enhanced motivation and organizational commitment.
Job enrichment includes a number of different workplace practices, such as quality circles, self-directed teams, job rotation, and information sharing. One possible reason for adopting these practices is to motivate workers and to encourage them to participate in improving productivity, safety, and the quality of their products or services. An alternative motivation for adopting job enrichment is to enlarge the jobs by encouraging multitasking and to adopt peer monitoring. This also improves productivity and, in return, job satisfaction. Furthermore, job enrichment can lead to better work methods, attracting and retaining capable employees as well as helping to increase quality and improve decision making at the job level.
Moreover, job enrichment is closely linked to autonomy in the workplace. Employees receive higher levels of flexibility and responsibility in the tasks that they have to perform, allowing for an enriched content and context of their jobs. This means that jobs are delegated and decentralized so as to achieve the highest possible performance, to minimize employers’ control, and to reach the organization’s aims and objectives more effectively. Also, having flexible job content enables employees to redirect their efforts, focus on their resources and consider new approaches when dealing with problems. This in turn leads to increased satisfaction and enthusiasm.
Overall, the purpose of job enrichment is to make jobs more intrinsically rewarding through the enhancement of responsibility, authority, and accountability. Job enrichment increases employees’ sense of belonging as well as engaging them to perform better. This, in turn, leads to higher organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and improved results. This also has a direct positive effect on organizational performance, on the organization’s reputation, and on its relationship with customers.
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- Steve Durkac, 21 Motivational Insights on Leadership Enrichment (Steve Durkac, 2007);
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- John M. Ivancevich, Human Resource Management (McGraw-Hill College, 2009);
- Roberto LunaArocas and Joaquin Camps, “A Model of High Performance Work Practices and Turnover Intentions,” Personnel Review (v.37/1–2, 2008);
- Rino J. Patti, The Handbook of Human Services Management (Sage, 2009);
- Sophie Rowan, Happy at Work: Ten Steps to Ultimate Job Satisfaction (Prentice Hall Life, 2008);
- Stephen J. Wood and Toby D. Wall, “Work Enrichment and Employee Voice in Human Resource Management-Performance Studies,” International Journal of Human Resource Management (v.18/7, 2007).
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