Learning Objectives--After completion of this exercise, you should be able to:
1. Describe the major differences between job enrichment, job enlargement, and autonomous work groups.
2. Identify recent changes in job design and how they might affect worker satisfaction and productivity.
Time Suggested One hour
Procedure: Answer questions at end of A and B in essay form when appropriate.
The concept of job design is not new. It has roots back to the beginning of the industrial era when Babbage wrote on manmade, ordered, and rationalized jobs. Perhaps the best-known theorist on job design is Frederick Taylor, who wrote The Principles of Scientific Management. He proposed analyzing and breaking jobs into simplified tasks through motion studies. Job design defines and delineates the tasks, duties, and responsibilities of a job. This information is then used to write job descriptions. With this tool, the personnel manager can assess the skills and knowledge required in the candidate to fill the position.
Although Taylor stressed productivity as resulting from the least time and motion wasted, in recent years we have realized that productivity is closely !inked to motivation and morale as well. The purpose of job design is to increase worker efficiency and satisfaction and to stimulate motivation by improving the nature of work itself.
The reverse of Taylor's work simplification theory is job enlargement. This involves enlarging a job by horizontally increasing the number of tasks or activities required. The rationale behind the theory is that an enlarged job will increase job satisfaction and productivity. An easy way to understand this process is by citing an example. In a plastic container fabricating plant an experienced die cutter might, under the job simplification process, cut one shape, a circle, from one color of plastic. In a job enlargement program this single task would be enlarged to cutting a multitude of shapes from a variety of colors. Perhaps the die cutter would cut all circles from six colors first, then all triangles from the six colors, etc. Or perhaps the cutter would alternate colors and shapes. In this way there would be a varied selection of activities to keep the employee involved. The process of job enlargement is relatively simple and can be applied in a variety of situations.
Theoretically, job enlargement will motivate employees to increase productivity. The motivation will occur from the relief of boredom, since the diversity of change is a stimulation in and of itself. Furthermore, employees will enjoy a greater feeling of responsibility and personal competence since additional abilities are utilized. The major criticism of the approach is that little is actually achieved by adding to a dull job more of the same tasks.
Job enrichment stresses job content and structure as the critical issues in job design. Similar to enlargement, job enrichment increases the tasks and duties of a job, but it includes more responsibility for decision making, planning, and/or control. It entails more self-monitoring and more planning and controlling decisions. The traditional information feedback loop between superior and subordinate is altered in job enrichment. A single employee may follow the project from beginning to end. Because the decision maker and planner and operator are the same person, quick feedback and necessary alterations are possible if standards are not met.
Job enrichment can best be explained by an example. During an annual fund drive for a national cancer research foundation, individual volunteers could decide how to raise funds as opposed to being told how. The volunteers could choose the best approach to solicit in their neighborhood, plan their course of action, and compose their own letters or personal contact messages. District supervisors, rather than managing by directive, would review the results and help those who needed it. The volunteers would watch the entire cycle from the planning stage through the collection stage.
The motivation effect of job enrichment is alleged to be greater and more powerful than that of job enlargement. Like enlargement, enrichment lessens boredom and increases feeling of responsibility and competence. But in addition, it requires more creativity and judgment, the recognition of alternatives, and review and control procedures. Herein lies a problem with enrichment: Some people are not willing (or able) to take on the responsibility. Furthermore, not all jobs can or should be enriched.
The last behavioral approach to job design to be discussed, autonomous work groups, is an expansion and combination of the first two behavioral approaches. The autonomous work group uses the principles of both job enlargement and job enrichment, but rather than concentrating on a single job it covers a project worked on by a group of people. This concept allows the workers to control the project from beginning to end. What will make up each individual's job, how will the work be laid out, how will it be inspected, and by whom are all factors addressed within the autonomous work group. Whereas job enrichment can result in more ~individual" type accomplishments, autonomous work groups tap group accomplishments, thus enlarging the number of tasks performed while also enriching the job by adding the planning and controlling processes. As the concept broadens, autonomous work groups can develop into the groups' deciding their own pace and work breaks. Perhaps the best-known example is when this approach was used in the production of automobile bodies at the Volvo plant in Sweden. In this case the group of workers followed the body down the assembly line.
The motivation effect of this job design approach encompasses and takes advantage of all the effects of job enlargement and enrichment, and adds to them. The greater variety of tasks and the greater responsibility increase the meaningfulness of the job. Furthermore, the social contact of interaction with fellow workers enhances satisfaction. The success of this approach depends, of course, on the cooperation of the group and ability to achieve goals in virtually leaderless groups assigned with self-control.
Job enlargement, job enrichment, and autonomous work groups are primarily behavioral approaches to the design of jobs. Each has been shown to increase production in some cases and to actually decrease production in others. Therefore, no generalizations can be made concerning that factor. One generalization, however, can be made: All three have made important contributions to job satisfaction and work quality.
Imagine the position of personal secretary in a large firm. This is a job filled with lots of tasks--answering the phone, typing, taking dictation, some filing, opening the mail, making copies, etc. However, in all of these tasks the secretary is carrying out someone else's orders, making only such decisions as how dark the copies should be -- lots of tasks, but many of them dull and unchallenging. In this firm, salary, fringe benefits, and vacation time are all fixed by the personnel office, with yearly salary increases ranging from two to ten percent. As the secretary's boss you would like to enrich the job? How could this be done?
Your final concern is for learning and personal and professional growth of your secretary. What are some ways you could provide for these needs in the secretary's job?
Bobby Turner has just been approached by his friend, Ray Williams, who is opening an automobile tune-up shop, Ace Tune-Up, Inc. Ray does not have a background in business administration. After high school, he attended an automobile mechanics course. His new shop will specialize in tune-ups--replacing spark plugs, ignition points, rotors, distributor caps, gas and air filters, and fuel pumps, and rebuilding carburetors. He feels that it is very important that he organize the work properly. Ray has told Bobby that the way to be successful in this type of organization is to have a good organization and satisfied mechanics. "Satisfied mechanics make good mechanics," Ray has stated as his basic personnel management philosophy, "If they aren't happy, they do sloppy work, and I just can't afford to have customers complaining about our poor work.You know, word-of-mouth is the most important advertising we have. Commercial ads will get attention for your business, but word-of-mouth gets you business right now. The mechanics just have to do quality work." The reason for approaching Bobby was to get advice on designing the jobs in his shop. The shop expects to service about 80 cars per day. The standard tune-up requires approximately 55 minutes to complete. It involves replacing points (if nonelectrical), rotor, distributor cap, and plugs, setting the ignition timing and dwell, and adjusting the carburetor. The shop foreman has estimated the time breakdown as follows:
Replacing four spark plugs
Replacing points, rotor, and distributor cap
Adjusting timing, dwell, and carburetor
1. What would be the basic jobs if you designed the tune-up work based on work simplification?
JOB TITLE JOB REQUIREMENTS
a. _____________________ ___________________
b. _____________________ ___________________
c. _____________________ ___________________
d. _____________________ ___________________
2. Describe a mechanic's position in this shop which has been enriched.
3. Describe how work would be done in this shop if autonomous work groups performed.