Job enrichment defined
Job enrichment refers to the process of giving employees an opportunity to put into practice their various abilities and potentials. It is underlined by the fact that employees have different abilities and potentials. Job enrichment is attained through having a variety of challenging tasks, giving feedback to employees through effective communication, encouragement of employees and development of meaningful tasks in form of work units.
The concept of job enrichment was developed by the renowned American psychologist Herzberg in the 1950s. The concept was to replace job enlargement which had dominated the field of organizational behaviour for a long time. Herzberg considered job enrichment as better than job enlargement because it gave employees few but challenging tasks as opposed to job enlargement which gave employees many tasks without varying the challenges involved in undertaking those tasks. Some aspects of job enrichment are discussed below.
Aspects of Job Enrichment
Communication is the transfer of information from one person or source to another. In the organizational context, effective communication involves using the correct language in communication between employees and their seniors. The language used should be neutral and inoffensive to anybody. Managers should also avoid discrimination of employees based on their position in the organization, age, gender, level of education, race and religion. This paves way for respect and discipline to prevail in the organization. Respect and discipline are a must for organizations that aspire to have a friendly work environment.
Organizations encourage employees to work in groups instead of working independently. This enables them to benefit from the synergy found in groups (Kurt, 1958). Working in groups gives employees an opportunity to exercise their creativity, innovativeness, skills and talents. It also enables the group members to learn from the strengths of each other as well as from the diverse experiences of the group members. When employees work in groups, they learn how to welcome positive criticism. Working in groups also enables the employees to generate new ideas which are implemented by the organization. This increases their motivation because they feel that the organization values their input.
Every day we wake up and engage in various activities aimed at achieving different goals. The achievement is made possible by motivation which is defined as the force which energizes, sustains and directs the behaviour of human beings to specific goals. These forces are known as motives or drives underlying human behaviour. Motivation is also the process of influencing or guiding the behaviour of people in order for them to achieve certain results which they may not achieve without the influence or guidance.
A person who is motivated is able to achieve better results and overcome certain challenges as opposed to a person who is not motivated. Managers of organizations strive to ensure that their employees are well motivated in their job. Motivation may be intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from the employees and is characterized by the need to achieve good results, the passion for work, the ambition to acquire new knowledge and the need to be successful at the workplace (Dixon, 1994).
Extrinsic motivation arises from things that are external to employees and include things like appreciation, rewards, increased salary, promotions and congratulatory messages. It may be based on the performance of individual employees, group efforts or collective success of the organization as a whole. The motivation of employees makes them acquire positive values, beliefs, norms and attitudes toward their organization. Positive values include things like hard work, faithfulness, commitment, respect and appreciation. An example of a positive belief is being optimistic in everything which employees undertake.
This involves the training of employees on a continuous basis. The employees may be trained on various aspects of their job and other processes of the organization. Training of employees enables them to improve their performance and efficiency, which impacts positively on the productivity of the organization. Employee training also ensures that an organization makes maximum use of its human resources because well-trained employees are capable of multitasking. For example, the training of an accountant on administrative work may enable him or her to work both as an accountant and an administration officer. This may enable the organization to survive during times of financial crisis when reduction of staff becomes a strategy of reducing operational costs.
Theories Related to Job Enrichment
There are various theories that are related to job enrichment. Some of them include the expectancy theory by Victor Vroom, the two-factor theory by Herzberg and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory.
Herzberg’s two-factor theory
The concept of job enrichment is founded on Herzberg’s two-factor theory. In the theory, Herzberg argues that employees are motivated by the presence of motivation factors and are demotivated by the absence of hygiene factors. Motivation factors are those things that are directly linked to the work done by employees. The factors provide answers to questions such as whether the work offers the employees an opportunity to achieve, to be responsible and to be recognized.
The hygiene factors on the other hand are those which may make employees to be dissatisfied with their work and include things like poor salary, lack of fringe benefits and poor working environment. According to him, therefore, organizations must ensure that they improve on the two factors in order to increase employees’ levels of satisfaction with their job and decrease dissatisfaction (Hoffmann, 2007).
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory
In an attempt to explain human behaviour, Maslow came up with what he referred to as the hierarchy of needs. According to him, human needs are arranged in a hierarchical manner. Organizations employ employees from diverse backgrounds in terms of age, gender, level of education, religion, social status, and professional experience (Maslow, 2012). These employees are also employed to serve in various capacities and are assigned various tasks depending on their qualifications. This implies that all employees have different needs at any given time. They also have different motivational needs.
For instance, a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of an organization has different needs from a junior employee such as a secretary or receptionist, yet all of them work for the benefit of the same organization (Stanford business, 2010).
This theory relates to job enrichment in that employees meet their needs in a hierarchical manner starting with the most basic moving toward self-actualization. Managers must therefore understand their employees and ensure that they provide incentives to motivate them based on their levels in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. For example, employers can ensure that the security needs of their employees are met by paying health insurance for them or by providing a safe working environment (Taris & Schreurs, 2009).
This theory was founded by Victor Vroom in 1964. In the theory, Vroom argues that there is a need for organizations to link rewards to performance. He also points out the need for organizations to ensure that those who get rewarded actually deserve to be rewarded. As such, there is a need for organizations to verify whether employees need rewards and if so, to ensure that only employees who deserve rewards actually get them (Tauer, 2009).
Job enrichment relates to expectancy theory in that employees are remunerated based on their performance. It involves giving incentives to employees based on their performance. This aims at maximizing the potential of hard working employees while adequately motivating them as well as saving on the incentives initially given to low performing employees. The idea is to enable hard working employees to earn as much as they could, which is believed to reduce employee turnover. Organizations may also introduce promotion based on individual’s performance and employees’ abilities (Green & Heywood, 2008).
The theory enables employees to increase their wages and complete their work in an efficient and effective manner. Due to high levels of employee motivation, organizations are able to improve on quality because employees dedicate all their efforts to the tasks allocated to them (Artz, 2008).
However, the theory may lead to conflict between management and employees especially when employees’ goals and those of management are not compatible. Employees may lack specific skills and competencies to perform some complex tasks. In such situations, the employees may engage in risky or unethical actions in an attempt to achieve those goals. This may in turn compromise the quality of services offered by an organization.
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