Approach to job design


There are three important approaches to job design namely

1. Engineering approach
2. Human approach
3. The job characteristics approach

Engineering Approach:

The most prominent single element in the Engineering approach, envisaged by FW Taylor and others, was the task idea. The work of every workman is fully planned by the management at least one day in advance and each man received in most cases complete written instructions, describing in details the task which he is to accomplish. This task specifies not only what is to be done but how it is to be done and the exact time allowed for doing it. The principles offered by scientific management to job design can be summarized thus:

* Work should be scientifically studied. Taylor advocated fragmentation and regularization of work to reap the advantages of specialization.
* Work should be arranged so that workers can be efficient.
* Employees selected for work should be matched to the demands of the job.
* Employees should be trained to perform the job.
* Monetary compensation should be used to reward successful performance of the job.

These principles to job design seem to the quite rational and appealing because they point toward increased organizational performance. Specialization and regularization over a period of time result in job incumbents becoming experts quickly, leading to higher levels of output. Despite the assumed gains in efficiency behavioral scientists have found that some job incumbents dislike specialized and routine jobs.

In the course of a study of 180 auto assembly line workers, one worker lamented: “What I can’t get used to is the monotony. The job gets sickening, day in, day out plugging in ignition wires. I get through with one job and have another one staring me in the face.� More recently a steel worker complained that the problem with narrowly defined jobs is that they require ‘arms and hands but no brainwork’. Beyond that, the system has created a chasm between managers and workers that often stymies cooperation, and, in union settings, frequently becomes a battle-ground between labor and management over “contractual right.�

Problems with Engineering Approach: After listening to several complaints from employees about their highly specialized jobs, Walker and Guest indicated the problems with job thus:

Repetition: Employees performed a few tasks repeatedly. This quickly led the employee to become very bored with the job. There was no challenge to the employee to learn anything new or to improve the job.

Mechanical Pacing: Assembly line workers were made to maintain a certain regular pace of work. They could not take a break when they needed to, or simply divert their attention to some other aspect of the job or another individual.

No End Product: Employees found that they were not turning out any identifiable product, consequently, they had little pride and enthusiasm in their work.

Little Social Interaction: Employees complained that because the assembly line demanded constant attention, there was very little opportunity to interact on a casual basis with other employees and share their work experiences, beliefs and sentiments.

No Input: Employees also complained that the they had little chance to choose the methods by which they performed their job, the tools which they use, or the work procedures. This created little interest in the job because there was nothing which they could improve or change.

Human Approach:

The human relations approach recognized the need to design jobs which are interesting and rewarding. In the past two decades much work has been directed to changing jobs so that incumbents can satisfy their needs for growth, recognition and responsibility. Hersberg’s research popularized the notion of enhancing need satisfaction through what is called job enrichment. One widely publicized approach to job enrichment uses what is called as the job characteristics model and this has been explained separately.
There are two types of factors:

1. Motivators like achievement, recognition, work itself, responsibility, advancement and growth and

2. Hygienic factors (which merely maintain the employee on the job and in the organization) like working conditions, organizational policies, inter-personnel relations, pay and job security.

The employee is dissatisfied with the job if required maintenance factors are not introduced into the job. But, employee may not be fully satisfied even if the required maintenance factors are provided. The employee will be satisfied with his job and he will be more productive in motivators are introduced into the job content. As such, he asserts that the jobs designer has to introduce hygienic factors adequately so as to reduce dissatisfaction and build motivating factors. Thus, Herzberg has laid emphasis on the psychological needs of employees in designing a job.

The Job Characteristics Approach:

The job Characteristics Theory of Hackman & Oldham states that employees will work hard when they are rewarded for the work they do and when the work gives them satisfaction. Therefore they suggest that motivation, satisfaction and performance should be integrated in the job design. According to this approach, any job can be described in terms of five core job dimension which are defined as follows:

1. Skill Variety: The degree to which a job requires a variety of different activities so that the workers can use a number of different skills and talents.

2. Task Identity: The degree to which the job requires completion of a whole and identifiable piece of work.

3. Task Significance: The degree to which the job has a substantial impact on the lives or work of other people.

4. Autonomy: The degree to which the job provides substantial freedom, independence, and discretion to the individual in scheduling the work and in determining the procedures too be used in carrying it out.

5. Feedback: The degree to which an individual requires direct and clear information about the effectiveness of his or her performances.

In conclusion while designing a job care must be taken of factors like productivity, quality, worker interest, motivation, incentive and a sense of job achievement and satisfaction. In this article we have outlined above both the positive and negative factors in this context.