In this article we will discuss about the factors affecting job design. Job design has emerged as one of the important areas that have received the attention of behavioural scientists. Based on research studies, sufficient theoretical framework for job design has developed.
Job design involves integration of tasks, duties, and responsibilities into a unit of work to achieve certain objectives. To achieve proper production and to provide effective return to the organisation the job must be properly designed.
If a job fails to provide proper return of investment to the organisation the fault lies with the job designers. Therefore, the designer must design the activities of the organisation.
Factors affecting job design can be grouped under the following categories:-
1. Environmental Factors 2. Organizational Factors 3. Individual Factors 4. Behavioural Factors
Factors Affecting Job Design – Environmental, Organizational, Individual and Behavioural Factors
Factors Affecting Job Design – Environmental, Organisational and Individual Factors
Job design has emerged as one of the important areas that have received the attention of behavioural scientists. Based on research studies, sufficient theoretical framework for job design has developed. Job design involves integration of tasks, duties, and responsibilities into a unit of work to achieve certain objectives.
1. Environmental Factors:
There are various environmental factors which affect the job design approach to be adopted by an organization.
The major environmental factors affecting job design are as follows:
I. Technological Development:
Technology determines predominantly the nature of job design, and an organization’s choice of a technology depends on the degree of technological development. In different types of technology, job design differs. In a mass production and assembly line, the jobs are highly interdependent and, therefore, lateral relationships become more important in order to obtain effective coordination between specialized groups.
In unit and small batch production, the specialization is parallel and the work flow is organized to minimize the amount of coordination required.
II. Availability of Personnel:
Another environmental factor which is taken into consideration is the availability of personnel having requisite abilities for job performance. If trained and skilled personnel are available, jobs may be made more complex and varied which may be more motivating.
However, if such personnel are not available, simple and fragmented job design is more appropriates. For example, when Henry Ford of famous Ford Motors of USA adopted assembly line system for automobile manufacturing, the jobs designed were quite simple and required little training because of non-availability of trained workers experienced in automobile making at that time.
III. Socio-Cultural Expectations:
A job design should meet the socio-cultural expectations, that is, it must be able to satisfy the requirements of personnel who join as workforce. In every society, expectations from jobs in the form of monotony or challenges, work hours and time schedule, etc. are formed on the basis of broad socio-cultural characteristics.
However, these expectations are not static but dynamic and change with the profile of workforce based on education, training, etc. Therefore, these expectations have to be considered adequately in job design.
There are various organizational factors which determine the job design approach that may be adopted by an organization. The major factors are- nature of task characteristics, use of ergonomics, and work practices.
I. Nature of Task Characteristics:
Jobs should be motivating. Motivating potential of a job depends on skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback. However, these dimensions may not exist uniformly in all jobs but are moderated by internal characteristics of the job.
The internal structure of a job consists of three elements- (i) planning — deciding the course of action, timing, and resources required; (ii) executing — carrying out the plan; and (iii) controlling — monitoring performance and taking corrective action when required.
A completely integrated job includes all these elements for each of the tasks involved. However, all jobs cannot be integrated equally, for example, assembly line jobs. Thus, the technological factors involved in a job determine to a very great extent how the job will be designed.
II. Use of Ergonomics:
Ergonomics is concerned with designing jobs integrating socio- technical factors of the job and the characteristics of job holder so that he can perform the job effectively. The use of the concept of ergonomics helps in designing a job by providing clue as to how social, technical, and individual characteristics can be matched. An organization using the principles of ergonomics can have better motivational job designs.
III. Work Practices:
In an organization, work practices to be followed are not determined by the organization alone but employees and their unions also play active role. Traditionally, work practices were determined by time and motion study which suggests the type of motion required in a task and the time required to complete that motion.
A recent development in this field is a new technique called Maynard Operating Sequence Technique (MOST) which uses a standard formula to list motion sequences ascribed in index value. This technique is an improved version of time and motion study. However, the introduction of this technique has been resisted by trade unions. Such a resistance restricts the area of choice by the organization for job design.
Not all individuals react uniformly to a particular job design. This happens because of individual differences. An individual differs from others in terms of age, sex, physical features, intelligence, personality, need patterns, values, and attitudes.
These factors influence his reaction to a job and the job performance environment. Thus, for some individuals, a simple job may be motivating while for others, this may be monotonous and frustrating. Therefore, job design must take into account various individual characteristics into consideration.
Factors Affecting Job Design: Organisational, Environmental and Behavioural Factors
Several factors affect the job design. These factors can be classified into three group’s viz. organisational, environmental and behavioural factors.
a. Organisational Factors:
Organisational Factors that affect the job design include characteristics of task, work flow and work practice.
As regards the task characteristics, it may be stated job design requires the assembly of several tasks into a job or a group of jobs. An individual worker may curry out one main task consisting of several inter-related functions.
However, such functions or tasks man be split between a team working closely together. If the jobs are more complex, individuals may carry out one main task, each with a number of functions or these tasks man be allocated to a group of workers and the work may be divided among them.
The work-flow characteristics in an organisation are strongly influenced by the nature of the product which usually suggests the sequence and balance between jobs, if the work is to be done effectively. For example- the design of the car must be framed before the parts of the car are to be manufactured.
Ergonomics is concerned with designing and shaping jobs to fit the physical abilities and the characteristics of individuals to whom the work is to be entrusted so that they can perform their jobs effectively and efficiently. Ergonomics helps the employers to design jobs in such a way that the workers’ physical abilities and job requirements are balanced.
It does not alter the nature of the job tasks but it decides on the location of tools, switches and other facilities, by keeping in view that the handling of the job is the primary consideration.
Work-practices lay down the methods of performing the work. These methods may arise from tradition or the collective wishes of employees. Formerly work practices used to be determined by the time and motion study but now a new technique has been emerged and this new technique is likely to drastically alter the work practices in industrial firms. This new technique is called MOST (i.e. may nard Operating Sequence Technique).
This technique introduces a standard formula to list the motion sequence ascribed on index values. However the workers are most likely to resist the introduction or this technique, even though they are likely to benefit from it.
b. Environmental Factors:
Environmental Factors include such factors as employee abilities and availability and social and cultural expectations. Efficiency considerations must be balanced against the abilities and availability of the workers to perform the given jobs. Take the example of Henry Ford, the international famous Ford automobiles, He found that most of the potential workers lacked any automobile making experience.
Therefore, the jobs were designed to be simple and requiring little training. Hence, considerable thought must be given so as to ascertain who will actually do the particular work entrusted. In those days, getting the job was the primary consideration of the job- seeker who were always ready to work on any job and under any working conditions.
However, now the days have changed and have improved considerably because of literacy, knowledge and awareness among the workers and their expectations from jobs they perform have also changed considerably. Therefore in modern days jobs must be designed to meet the worker’s expectations.
While designing jobs for international operations, it is but natural to neglect certain national and cultural difference. Hours of work, holidays, vacations, rest breaks, religious belief or traditions, management styles and worker’s job satisfaction and attitudes etc. are just some of the predictable differences that are likely to affect the design of jobs across international borders.
If these social expectations are not considered then such failure is likely to create dis-satisfaction, low motivation, hard to fill job operations and a low quality or work life, particularly when foreign nationals are involved in the home country or overseas,
c. Behavioural Factors:
Behavioural factors are those that deal with human needs and the necessity to satisfy them. Behavioural factors include such elements as feedback, autonomy, use of abilities and variety etc.
To achieve proper production and to provide effective return to the organisation the job must be properly designed. If a job fails to provide proper return of investment to the organisation the fault lies with the job designers. Therefore, the designer must design the activities of the organisation.
Organisational factors includes three important characteristics which are:
(I) Work flow
(II) Ergonomics and
(III) Work practices.
Job design requires the assembly of a number of tasks into a job or a group of jobs. An individual may carry out one main task which consist of a number of inter-related elements or functions. Further, the task functions may be split between a team working closely together strong along an assembly line. In a complex job an individual may have to carry out a number of connected tasks, each having a number of functions.
In an internal structure of each task, three elements namely- (i) planning (ii) executing and (iii) controlling have been considered as the pillars of the organisation. The planning element consists of deciding the course of action, timing and the resources required. The executing element is to carry out the plan and the controlling element is the monitoring performance and taking corrective action when required. A completely integrated job will include all these elements.
The worker having been given objectives in terms of output decides how the work is to be done and for that he assembles the resources, performs the work and controls the quality and costs. Responsibility in a job is always measured by the degree of authority someone has to put to do all these things. Therefore, it can safely be said that an ideal job design is to integrate all the three elements.
(I) Work Flow:
In any organisation the flow of work is mostly influenced by the nature of the product or service. This usually suggests the sequence and balance between jobs if the work is to be carried on efficiently and regularly. For example – the frame of a car must be built first and then the addition of doors and other things are added. After having the sequence of jobs decided and determined, the balance between jobs is established.
This is concerned with designing and shaping jobs to fit the physical abilities of individuals so that they can perform the jobs in a nice manner and effectively. This system helps the employers to design jobs in such a manner that workers physical abilities and job demands are balanced. In this the handling of the job is the primary consideration and it does not allow the alteration of the nature of job, tasks and the location of tools.
(III) Work Practices:
These are the set ways of performing work and it is also called a traditional way of performing work. Till now the work practices were determined by time and motion study which decides the standard time needed to complete a given job. Under this, the study requires repeated observations.
The accuracy of the work performance depended on the competence of the workers employed or on the competence of the engineer. Deviations from the normal work-cycle will cause distortions in measurement and in work.
At present a new technique namely MOST (Maynard Operating Sequence Technique) has emerged, which if introduced, would drastically alter the work practices in industrial undertakings. This technique uses a standard formula to list the motion sequence ascribed in the index values. Management is apprehending that there will be resistance from the workers to the introduction of MOST but the benefits from this technique is of high value and will help to cope with the opposition.
Job design is affected by various factors which are as listed below:
1. Organisational Factors:
It is inclusive of the following aspects:
(i) Characteristics of Task:
Job design needs the assembly of a number of tasks into a job or a group of jobs. An individual may carry out one main task which consists of a number of interrelated elements or functions. On the other hand, task functions may be split between a team working closely together or strung along as assembly line.
The internal structure of each task consists of three elements as under:
(a) Executing – It implies carrying out the plan.
(b) Planning – It implies deciding the course of action, timing and the resources required.
(c) Controlling – It implies monitoring performance and progress and taking corrective action when required.
The workers (or group of workers) having been given objectives in terms of output, quality and cost targets, decide on how the work is to be carried out assembles the resources, performs the work and monitors output, quality and cost standards. Responsibility in a job is measured by the amount of authority someone has to put to do all these things. The ideal job design is to combine all the three elements.
(ii) Work Practices:
For performing various task these practices set ways. These methods may arise from tradition or the collective wishes of employees. Either way, the HR department’s flexibility to design jobs is limited, especially when such practices are part of a union-management relationship. Failure to consider work practices can have undesirable outcomes.
The flow of work in an organisation is highly influenced by the nature of the product or service. The product or service usually suggests the sequence and balance between jobs if the work is to be done efficiently. To illustrate, the frame of a car must be built before the fenders and the doors can be added later. After the sequence of jobs is determined, the balance between jobs is established.
It is concerned with shaping and designing jobs so as to fit the physical abilities and characteristics of individuals so that they can perform their jobs effectively. Ergonomics helps the employers to design jobs in such a way that workers’ physical abilities and job demands are balanced.
Ergonomics brings no alteration in the nature of job tasks instead it brings some appropriate alteration in the location of tools, switches and other facilities, while making these alterations, it is kept in view that the handling the job is the primary consideration.
2. Environmental Factors:
Environmental factors can be described as under:
(i) Employee Abilities and Availability:
Efficiency consideration must be balanced against the abilities and availability of the people who have to do the work.
(ii) Social and Cultural Expectations:
Knowledge, literacy knowledge and awareness among workers have contributed considerable improvement the similar is the position of their expectations from jobs. Hence it is essential that jobs must be designed to meet the expectations of workers.
During designing jobs for international operations, Uniform designs are almost certain to neglect national and cultural differences. Hours of work, holidays, rest breaks, vacations, management styles and religious beliefs and worker sophistication and attitudes are just some of the predictable differences that can affect the design of job across international borders.
Failure to consider these social expectations can create dissatisfaction, low motivation, hard-to-fill job openings and a low quality of work life, especially when foreign nationals are concerned in the home country or overseas.
3. Behavioural Factors:
Behavioural factors are closely interconnected with human needs and the necessity to satisfy them. Higher-level needs are more significant in this context.
Individuals inspired by high-level needs find jobs challenging and satisfying which are high on the following dimensions:
(i) Use of Abilities:
The job must be like the individual perceived it as requiring them to use abilities they value in order to perform the job effectively.
Lack of variety is likely to cause boredom. Boredom, in its turn, leads to fatigue and fatigue leads to mistakes. By injecting variety into jobs, personnel specialists can reduce errors caused by fatigue.
Autonomy can be interpreted as being responsible for what one does. It is the freedom to control one’s responses to the environment. Those jobs that give workers authority to make decisions by themselves provide added responsibilities, there tend to increase the employees sense of recognition and self-esteem. The absence of autonomy, on the contrary to the fact, it can cause employee apathy or poor performance.
Individuals must get a meaningful feedback about their performance, preferably by evaluating their own performance and defining the feedback. This implies that they should ideally work on a complete product or on significant part of it.
Factors Affecting Job Design – Environmental, Organizational and Behavioural
The factors which affect job design can be put into three broad categories- environmental factors, organizational factors, and behavioural factors.
(i) Availabilities and abilities of employees – There should be a proper match between efficiency consideration and availability and abilities of employees.
(ii) Expectations from the job – People have lots of expectations from a job and thus the jobs must be designed in order to meet employees’ expectations, for example, social and cultural expectations. This includes rest breaks, religious beliefs, vacations, etc.
(i) Work flow analysis – It seeks to ensure that each job in the organization receives as an input, adds value to that work and then passes it on to another worker. During work flow analysis, sometimes a few steps or even jobs are simplified or combined or even eliminated. Work is organized in a manner to meet the organizational production or service goals.
(ii) Organization structure – Individual jobs must be properly fit in the overall organization structure. For example, the autonomous work teams may do well in the decentralized organization rather than the centralized one.
(iii) Business strategy – Overall corporate strategy also influences job designing. For example, emphasis on highly specialized jobs involves more division of labour.
(iv) Organizational climate – It also influences job design. Groups may function well in an atmosphere that encourages participation, job enrichment and autonomous work, while teams may not thrive in an enterprise with an autocratic top-down approach to managerial leadership.
(v) Ergonomics – Ergonomics is the science of adapting working conditions to employee safety and comfort needs. In this, a balance is sought between employee’s physical abilities and job requirements.
(vi) Characteristics of task – Job design may require the assembly of a number of tasks into a job or a group of jobs. There may be a single main task for an individual to carry out or a variety of task functions divided among team members.
(vii) Work practices – These are set ways to perform the work. Work practices may develop from the traditional way of doing work. This limits the job design. Especially when such practices are a part of trade union management relationship.
(i) Employee needs – People having growth and development needs want to have jobs with greater responsibilities, whereas, people having social needs prefer to work in groups/teams.
(ii) Variety – There should be variety in jobs, otherwise the employees will get bored.
(iii) Feedback – Employees must get regular feedback regarding their job performance. This will motivate them to do better in future.
(iv) Autonomy – It refers to freedom to control one’s activities. Jobs that give workers authority to make decisions will provide added responsibilities which tend to increase the employee’s sense of recognition and self-esteem.
(v) Abilities – Individuals must utilize their abilities to the fullest while doing the job. The individual and collective abilities of the employees play an important role in how the jobs are designed.