Job Design and Redesign

Job Design and Redesign


We all know that jobs are important. They help determine standards of living, status and even sense of worth. This you can easily relate if you go back to Herzberg’s theory of motiva-tion. Jobs are important motivators and parallelly, they help accomplish the organisational objectives. Today let us study the different aspect of job.


Job design is the incorporation of the tasks the organisation needs to be done into a job for one person.It can also be defined as the specification of the contents, method and relationships of jobs to satisfy technological and organizational requirements as well as the personal needs of the individual.

Factors Affecting Job Design

Job design is affected by organizational, environmental, and behavioral factors. A properly designed job will make it productive and satisfying. If a job fails on this count, the fault lies with the job designers who, based on the feedback, must redesign the job. We now propose to elaborate the various factors affecting job design.

Organizational Factors

Include characteristics of task, workflow, ergonomics, and work practices.

1. Characteristics of Task

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 consists of a number of interrelated elements or functions. On the other hand, task functions maybe split between a team working closely together or strung along an assembly line. In more complex jobs, individuals may carry out a variety of connected tasks, each with a number of functions, or these tasks may be allocated to a group of workers or divided between them. Complexity in a job may be a reflection of the number and variety of tasks to be carried out, or the range and scope of the decisions that have to be made, or the difficulty of predicting the outcome of decisions.
The internal structure of each task consists of three elements: (i) planning (deciding the course of action, timing and the resources required), (ii) executing (carrying out the plan), and (iii) controlling (monitoring performance and taking corrective action when required). A completely integrated job will include all these elements for each of the tasks-involved. The worker (or group of workers) having been given objectives in terms of output, quality and cost targets, decides on how the work is to be done, 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.23 The ideal job design is to integrate all the three elements.

2. Work Flow:

The flow of work in an organization is strongly 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. For example, 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.

3. Ergonomics:

Ergonomics is concerned with designing and shaping jobs to fit the physical abilities and characteristics of individuals so that they can perform their jobs effectively. Ergonomics helps employers to design jobs in such a way that workers’ physical abilities and job demands are balanced. Ergonomics does not alter the nature of job tasks but the location of tools, switches and other facilities, keeping in view that the handling the job is the primary consideration.

4. Work Practices:

Work practices are set ways of performing work. These meth-ods 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.
Work practices were, till now, determined by time and motion study, which determined the standard time needed to complete a given job. The study required repeated observations. The accuracy of the readings depended on the competence of the engineer. Deviations from the normal work-cycle caused distortions in measurement, were biased towards existing work practices with little effort at methods’ improvement, and could be carried out only when production was underway.
A new technique has now emerged, which if introduced, could drastically alter the work practices in industrial undertakings.
Called Maynard Operating Sequence Technique (MOST), the technique uses a standard formula to list the motion sequences ascribed in index values. There will be resistance from the workers to the introduction of MOST, but the benefits from the technique should help cope with the opposition.

Environmental Factors

Environmental elements affect all activities of HRM, and job-design is no exception. The external factors that have a bearing on job design are employee abilities and availability, and social and cultural expectations.

1. Employee Abilities and Availability:

Efficiency consideration must be balanced against the abilities and availability of the people. who are to do that work. When Henry Ford made use of the assembly line, for example, he was aware that most potential workers lacked any automobile-making experience. So jobs were designed simple and required little training. Therefore, considerable thought must be given as to who will actually do the work

2. Social and Cultural Expectations:

There were days when getting a job was the primary consider-ation. The worker was prepared to work on any job and under any working conditions. Not any more. Literacy, knowledge and awareness among workers have improved considerably, so also their expectations from jobs. Hence jobs must be designed to meet the expectations of workers.
When designing jobs for international operations, uniform designs are almost certain to neglect national and cultural differences. Hours of work, holidays, vacations, rest breaks, religious beliefs, management styles, and worker sophistication and attitudes are just some of the predictable differences that can affect the design of jobs 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 involved in the home country or overseas.

Behavioral Elements

Behavioral factors have to do with human needs and the necessity to satisfy them. Higher-level needs are more significant in this context. Individuals inspired by higher-level needs find jobs challenging and satisfying which are high on the following dimensions:

1. Feedback:

Individuals must receive 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 a significant part of it.

2. Autonomy:

Autonomy is being responsible for what one does. It is the freedom to control one’s responses to the environment. 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. The absence of au-tonomy, on the other hand, can cause employee apathy or poor performance.

3. Use of Abilities:

The job must be perceived by individuals as requiring them to use abilities they value in order to perform the job effectively.

4. Variety:

Lack of variety may cause boredom. Boredom, in turn, leads to fatigue and fatigue causes mistakes. By injecting variety into jobs, personnel specialists can reduce errors caused by fatigue.
Work Specialization in 1900’s: Early in this century, Henry Ford became rich and famous by building automobiles on an assembly line. Even Ford worker was assigned a specific, repetitive task. For instance, one person would just put on the right-front wheel and someone else would install the right-front door. By breaking jobs up into small standardized tasks, which could be performed over and over again, Ford was able to produce cars at the rate of one every ten seconds while using employees who had relatively limited skills.Ford demonstrated that work can be performed more efficiently if employees are allowed to specialize. Today, we use the term, work specializa-tion, or division of labour to describe the degree to which tasks in the organization are subdivided into separate jobs. The essence of work specialization is that, rather than an entire job being done by one individual, it is broken down into a number of steps, each step being completed by a separate individual. In essence, individuals specialize in doing a part of an activity rather than the entire activity. By the late 1940s, most manufac-turing jobs in industrialized counties were being done with high work specialization. The management saw this as a way to make the most efficient use of its employees’ skills. In most organizations, some tasks require highly developed skills; other can be performed by the untrained. If all workers were engaged in each step of, say an organization’s manufacturing process, all would have to have the skills necessary to perform both-the most demanding and the least demanding jobs. As a result, except when performing the most skilled or highly sophisti-cated tasks, employees would be working below their skill levels. And since skilled workers are paid more than unskilled workers and their wages tend to reflect their highest level of skill, paying highly skilled workers to do easy tasks represents an inefficient usage of organizational resources. Managers also looked for other efficiencies that could be achieved through work specialization. Employee skills at performing a task successfully increase through repetition. Less time is spent in changing tasks, in putting away one’s tools and equipment from a prior step in the work process, and in getting ready for another. Equally important, training for specialization is more efficient from the organization’s perspective. It is easier and less costly to find and train workers to do specific and repetitive tasks. This is especially true of highly sophisticated and complex operations. For example, could Cessna produce one Citation jet a year if one person had to build the entire plane alone? Finally, work specialization increases efficiency and productivity by encouraging the creation of special inventions and machinery. For much of the first half of this century, managers viewed work specialization as an unending source of increased produc-tivity. And they were probably right. Because specialization was not widely practiced, its introduction almost always generated higher productivity. But by the 1960s, increasing evidence showed that a good thing can be carried too far. The point had been reached in some jobs where the human diseconomies from specialization-which surface as boredom, fatigue, stress, low productivity, poor quality increased absenteeism, and high tumover-more than offset the economic advantages.