Job Redesign

This article we have considered under operations management because we have incorporated shop floor activities. The impetus here is on type of shop floor work ;ike Automation, Industrial Engineering, Time and Motion study, maintenance planning etc. and less of Human Resource element.

One of the means of increasing the motivation of the workers is through Job Redesign. The concept of job redesigns is to make the work itself interesting varied and challenging.

Frustration with the job is not uncommon either in our India or elsewhere. It is, perhaps, one of the by products of increasing mechanization and automation. Technological advance is inevitable for the survival of industry but if introduced without adequate regard to ‘human’ aspects it will produce much frustration and anxiety amongst employees. With technological advances an employee may either experience ‘growth’ or feel reduced to a small cog in the giant technological wheel of progress. Both things are possible and it depends on how the organization manages the human aspects of job redesign in the context of continually advancing technology.

Typically the industrial Engineering on the Time and Motion Study approach to work design has been historically to divide the work into many fragments and increase the efficiency by a high degree of specialization in a small job fragment. The assembly lines, the learning curves are all aimed at realizing cost economies from a high degree of learning in a small period of time. But, a very small job fragment, a narrow area of responsibility and lack of any further learning can lead to much frustration for the employee.

This manifests itself in terms of drop in quality of performance (particularly where quality is a judgmental issue), lack of adaptability to changed circumstances, lack of any creativity and other numerical indicators such absenteeism (employees escaping from work) and employee turnover. An employee finds the work unchallenging with respect to his capabilities and therefore seeks a more challenging job elsewhere.

Take for example the case of a General post office that has several counters for dispensing stamps, postcards, inland letters, postal envelops, etc. In order to improve ‘efficiency’ an O and M expert introduces a system whereby only one type of material will be available at any counter: it is either only postcards, or inlands, and so on. All employees are also supplied with a ready reckoner for computations. The result is that employee has no variety in his job, no different postal materials to handle, no different calculation to make and no fun of having an occasional argument with the customer over the calculation of the payable amount and small change due.

One of the reasons for strikes and industrial relation problems is job frustration. There is no challenge in the job; it has to be sought elsewhere. Demand for higher wages is, perhaps only a symptom. To some extent one say that enhancement in pay is demanded as a compensation, for the lack of challenge in the job.

Bi-polarization of jobs:

Technological advances reduce a Bipolarization – deskilling some lower level jobs and increasing the skill requirements at higher levels of jobs. This condition can only be cured by periodical job redesign considering the abilities of people and by a continuous effort of human resources development.

Job redesign can be of three kinds:

1. Job Enrichment
2. Job Enlargement
3. Job Rotation

Job enrichment increases the amount of job satisfaction in a job Thus the responsibility level (control by oneself) growth level (continuous learning opportunities) and therefore the challenges level could be increased in the job thus enriching it. Of course, the people should be capable of handling these higher level demands of the enriched job.

One Job enrichment to another is to the higher level or to the elimination of one of the higher levels. Consequently, in the above example the Junior Engineers responsibilities have to be increased to include maintenance planning, and other first line managerial tasks.

Job Enlargement

It is always possible to enrich jobs. Instead, one can increase the variety of tasks in a job. All these tasks do not differ significantly in their level of responsibility. This is termed as Job Enlargement.

Job enlargement is gaining much relevance in the manufacture of automobiles, for example, which are traditionally made on an assembly line. The enlargement process, tries the jobs as complete as possible. The worker therefore not only has variety but is also held responsible for a complete job.

The job redesign methods will not only produce motivated workers, less effects in quality and higher productivity, but will also mean less supervision, and less movement of men or materials. Of course, there will additional costs of training which will be small compared to the benefits gained.

Job Rotation

The third method is that of job Rotation whereby at periodic intervals people are posted at jobs of different nature (although of the similar level). For instance, production employees could be rotated in the maintenance department and vice versa. Both production and maintenance workers would have learnt different skills and would appreciate one another’s problems. Where job enlargement cannot be done due to the physical reasons, the variety and integration is brought in through a carefully planned periodic rotation.