After reading this article you will learn about the meaning and approaches of job design.

Meaning of Job Design:

People like to work for both job satisfaction and need satisfaction. They want jobs that are away from monotony, lack of power and decision-making. They want to do meaningful jobs as they spend substantial part of their time at the work place.

The duties and responsibilities assigned to their jobs have to match their interests to derive satisfaction and optimum performance at the job. It is, therefore, important to design the jobs in a way that people feel good about their work/job.

The organisational work is broken into different jobs and each job involves different activities. The specifications of different activities related to a job comprise the job design. Job design refers to specification of task activities associated with a particular job. It defines a job in terms of content, function and relationships. It is “the determination of an individual’s work-related responsibilities.”


Job design offers two major benefits:

1. Defining the jobs in terms of specific task activities increases organisational efficiency.

2. The way jobs are designed motivates the employees to perform those jobs well. It, thus, acts as a motivational factor and influences the employee behaviour in accordance with the job design.

Job specialization:


Job design leads to job specialisation. It is “the degree to which the overall task of the organisation is broken down and divided into smaller component parts.”

Merits of job specialisation: 

Job specialisation has the following merits:

(a) Workers who perform specialised tasks become proficient in those tasks. This improves efficiency of the work.


(b) Time taken to perform a specialised task is less than that required to perform the whole range of activities associated with that task. There is, thus, increase in production per unit of time.

(c) Every organisational member does not have skills to perform all the organisational activities. Job specialisation, therefore, enables an organisation to function effectively by enabling members to perform only those tasks for which they have the necessary skills.

(d) Specialised task enables managers to provide training facilities and specialized equipment’s to workers performing their jobs.

Approaches to Job Design:

There are four approaches to Job design:


1. Job Simplification:

The job is broken into simple and narrow set of activities. It makes a job very simple to perform. Training individuals to perform such jobs is simple and inexpensive and workers can conveniently interchange their work activities related to such jobs.

By making the jobs simple to perform; by designing the tasks in a way that workers repeatedly perform one or a small number of tasks related to those jobs, managers can achieve quality control and gain production efficiencies. Making a job too simple, however, may not motivate employees as they may find that work boring and monotonous. This can negatively affect the quality of work and result in low job satisfaction.

2. Job Rotation:


Continuous handling of tasks related to simple jobs can make work monotonous and dull. Job rotation helps workers do away with the monotony by allowing them to work on different jobs which involve different skills and work activities. Job rotation is the practice of shifting employees from one job to another in a planned and systematic manner.

It is a better motivational tool than job simplification as it improves skills and flexibility to perform challenging jobs and increase their capabilities. Job rotation develops employees and increases their capabilities and understanding of different job structures of the organisation. It also promotes innovations by stimulating exchange of ideas.

However, it suffers from the following limitations:

a. Employees do not enjoy specialisation of work if there is frequent movement from one job to the other. In the modern era of specialisation, employees prefer to enhance their skills on one job (simple or complex) rather than move to new jobs as a motivational tool.


b. Frequently moving employees from one job to the other can affect productivity. Every time an employee moves to a new job, he has to learn job skills which slows down the work.

c. A person may not really be interested in job rotation for lack of interest in learning new job skills. He may prefer job enrichment or enlargement to job rotation.

3. Job Enlargement:

Combining several routine jobs into one or enlarging the scope of a job by adding variety of tasks is called job enlargement. It removes the dullness of performing the same activity over and over again by giving the employees more tasks to perform on the same job.


Workers perform a wider variety of tasks on the job which increases their job satisfaction. Managers may break a job into four activities (job enlargement) rather than ten simple activities (job simplification). Performing a wider variety of tasks on a job is job enlargement.

Though beneficial as it appears, it suffers from the following limitations:

(a) Increased training costs,

(b) Demand from workers for increase in pay as they perform wider variety of tasks, and

(c) Not being sufficiently challenging, motivating and innovative as performing a few more similar tasks is not motivating enough for workers to perform those tasks.

4. Job Enrichment:


Job enrichment means enriching a job with more responsibility, autonomy, skills and decision-making power. It serves as a strong motivational force to increase potential for growth and development. It provides a strong sense of achievement and recognition which provides internal satisfaction to employees; a source of high morale leading to high productivity.

It is a more comprehensive approach than job enlargement. It not only increases the variety of tasks on a job but also the control that worker has over the job. To enrich a job, managers increase the job depth, that is, “the degree to which individuals can plan and control the work involved in their jobs.”

It allows the workers to decide their goals, ways of achieving those goals and self-control their activities. This increases the sense of responsibility, capabilities to accept new and challenging tasks and opportunities for growth and development.

Job enrichment helps employees satisfy their higher order needs of recognition, prestige and achievement.

It is a “deliberate upgrading of responsibility, scope, and challenge in work.”

— Hersey and Blanchard


It is a “the process of upgrading the job-task mix in order to increase significantly the potential for growth, achievement, responsibility and recognition.” — Bartol and Martin

Ways of Achieving Job Enrichment:

Richard Hacknmn and Greg Oldhman developed job characteristic model to achieve job enrichment.

The model has three elements:

(a) Core Job Characteristics

(b) Critical Psychological States


(c) Outcomes

(a) Core Job Characteristics:

There are five characteristics of a job:

(i) Skill variety:

The job should involve activities which require variety of skills.

(ii) Task identity:


The job should represent a major part of the work rather than fraction of the whole work, that is, the job should have independent identity.

(iii) Task significance:

Workers should feel the impact of their job output on others’ output and also on the enterprise as a whole. It represents importance of the task.

(iv) Autonomy:

Workers should have autonomy to decide how the job is done, sequence involved in the activities, work methods for achieving the output, etc.

(v) Feedback:


Workers should have timely feedback on their job performance to know how well the job is performed so that deviations can be checked in time. These characteristics make the job challenging and motivating for the workers.

(b) Critical Psychological States:

Workers experience three critical psychological states:

(i) Feeling that the work is meaningful

(ii) Knowing that they are responsible for the outcomes

(iii) Actually finding out the results

The core job characteristics have motivational value if they have the psychological states.

(c) Outcomes:

When workers with critical psychological states perform jobs with core job characteristics, they experience the following outcomes:

(i) High internal work motivation.

(ii) High satisfaction of ‘growth needs’.

(iii) High degree of job satisfaction.

(iv) High degree of work effectiveness.

The job characteristic model enriches the job when individuals have the knowledge and skills to perform the redesigned jobs, have high growth-needs (needs for personal growth and development) and feel satisfied with factors related to ‘job context’ (factors other than the job, like salary, job security, working conditions etc.) The above features make the job rich in content and motivate the employees to work hard to achieve the goals related to these jobs.

Merits of Job Enrichment: Job enrichment has the following merits:

(i) It increases employees’ internal motivation.

(ii) It satisfies their ‘growth’ needs’.

(iii) It provides them job satisfaction.

(iv) It reduces labour turnover and absenteeism.

(v) It increases the efficiency of work through qualitative and quantitative improvement of work.

(vi) Greater freedom and autonomy to handle the work activities provides measures of self-control. The deviations are checked by the employees themselves rather than pointed by the supervisors.

Limitations of Job Enrichment: Job enrichment suffers from the following limitations:

(i) Expensive:

To enrich a job by adding more activities and allowing the workers to assume responsibility for the entire job may be costly for small concerns. Large concerns may, however, derive benefits which will offset the increased cost.

(ii) Workers’ perception:

Some workers are satisfied with the present content of the job and job enrichment becomes an additional liability for them. They are more interested in job security than job enrichment. Job enrichment may not, thus, prove to be lucrative in such situations.

(iii) Imposition on workers:

Workers may not be capable to accept the challenges associated with the jobs. They feel that job enrichment is an added burden for them and want managers to consult them before adding more responsibilities to the job.

(iv) Technological considerations:

The present technology may not be appropriate for enriching the current jobs. Job enrichment may not, therefore, be possible because of technological constraints. These limitations are primarily related to small-sized concerns or concerns which have unskilled or low skilled workers who perform routine work and do not want to add more responsibility to their job content. Highly skilled workers favour job enrichment for personal growth and development.

Effective Job Enrichment:

The following guidelines can make job enrichment effective:

(i) Consult the workers:

Managers should consult the workers and invite their suggestions on what they think about job enrichment. This involves greater participation by workers and acceptance of higher responsibility.

(ii) Share the benefits with workers:

Companies can share the benefits of job enrichment with workers who are not enterprising and innovative and, therefore, do not perceive job enrichment as an addend to their competence. In monetary terms, managers can offer some fraction of the profits to workers. This will motivate them to view job enrichment as a positive attribute of job design.

(iii) Be informed about the reasons for job enrichment:

Workers do not go against management. If properly explained about the reasons why managers want to enrich the jobs and what benefits it will offer to both individuals and organisations, they will accept job enrichment as a positive reinforcement on their behaviour.