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: organizational factors include characteristics of task, work flow, ergonomics, and work practices.
- 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 on main task which consists of a interrelated elements or functions. On the other hand, task functions may be split between a team working closely together or strung along an assembly line. In more complex jobs, individuals may be 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 decision.
- Work flow: The flow of work in a firm is strongly influenced by the nature of product or service. The product or service usually suggests the sequence and balance between jobs if the work is to be done efficiently.
- Ergonomics: Ergonomics concerned with designing and shaping jobs to fit the physical abilities and characteristics of employees. Nature of jobs remains the same but the location of tools, switches and other facilities is changed to make the jobholder feel comfortable.
- Work practices: work practices are set ways of performing works. 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.
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 the 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 consideration. 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 expectations from jobs. Hence jobs must be designed to meet the expectations of workers.
Behavioral Factors: Behavioral factors have to do with human needs and the necessary 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:
- Feedback: Individual need to receive meaningful feedback about their performance, preferably by evaluating their own performance and defining the feedback. This implies that they need to ideally work on a complete product or on a significant part of it.
- 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 autonomy, on the other hand, can cause employee apathy or poor performance.
- 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.
- Variety: Lack of variety may cause boredom, in turn, leads to fatigue causes mistakes. By injecting variety into jobs, personnel specialists can reduce errors caused by fatigue.
Job Design: Job design is mostly done for managers' jobs. While designing the job gives information about the qualifications required for doing the job and the reward (financial and non-financial, the needs of the organization and the needs of the individual manager must be balanced. Needs of the organization include high productivity, quality of work, etc. Needs of individual managers include job satisfaction. That is, they want the job to be interesting and challenging. Jobs must not be made highly specialized because they lead to boredom.
There has two dimensions- impact and complexity. The impact dimension, on the vertical axis, is the degree to which a job design approach is linked with factors beyond the immediate job, such as reward systems, performance appraisal methods, leadership, customer needs, organization design, working conditions, and team composition is and norms. The complexity dimension, on the horizontal axis, is the degree to which a job design approach requires:
- The involvement of individuals with diverse competencies at various organizational levels.
- High level of decision-making competency for successful implementation.
Job rotation: Job rotation involves moving employees from job to job to add variety and reduce boredom.
Job engineering: job engineering focuses on the tasks to be performed, methods to be used, workflows among employees, layout of the workplace, performance standards, and interdependencies among people and machines. Experts often examine these job design factors by means of time-and-motion studies, determining the time required to do each task and the movements needed to perform it efficiently.
Job enlargement: Job enlargement is defined as the horizontal level expansion of a job by widening the scope and activities related to the job. It involves increasing the duties and responsibilities associated at the same job level.
Job enrichment: It involves adding more motivators to a job to make it more rewarding. Job becomes enriched when it gives job-holder more decision-making. Planning and controlling powers.
The socio-technical approach to job design is that both the technical system and the accompanying social system should be considered when designing jobs. According to this concept, jobs should be designed by taking a ‘holistic' or ‘systems' view of the entire job situation, including its physical and social environment. Using the socio-technical approach, the following guidelines have been developed for designing jobs:
- A job needs to be reasonably demanding for the individual in terms other than sheer endurance and yet provide some variety (not necessarily novelty).
- Employees need to be able to learn on the job and to go on learning.
- Employees need some minimum area of decision making that they can call their own.
- Employees need some minimal degree of social support and recognition at the workplace.
- Employees need to be able to relate what they do and what they produce to their social life.