Job Design and Motivation

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Introduction

Organisations are experiencing intense rivalry globally, and they have to use various means to enhance performance. Employees’ motivation is a significant function that contributes to organisation performance. There are many ways in which an organisation can motivate employees and job design is one them. In the modern society, employees are looking for flexible jobs to increase work life balance. Employers are experiencing challenges due to the high rate of employee turnover. While it is the desire of every employer to attract and retain competent workers, no employee wants a boring job. Employers have to maintain a well-motivated staff to minimise the rate of employee turnover. Motivated employees can enhance organisation competitiveness because motivation brings satisfaction hence better performance (Lauby, 2015). Job design plays a significant role in motivating employees. A properly designed job can create employee satisfaction and contribute to employee motivation by reducing stress, increase employee satisfaction and performance.

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Job design enhances employees’ motivation

Job design is one of the key functions of human resource management in an organisation. Job design involves developing specifications of each task and setting methods of performing the task to achieve organisation expectations (Bakker & Leiter, 2010). Job design is reflective of the organisation culture and the relationship between workers and the organisation. It is intended to provide satisfaction to the job holder and improve the organisation performance. Employers can design jobs effectively to enable workers understand their roles and responsibilities (Parker & Ohly, 2008). Furthermore, job design should enable an employee to understand the job through from the start to the end. Employee motivation aims at achieving both employees and organisational goals. If job design is implemented effectively, it can improve employees’ motivation by increasing staff satisfaction, engagement, reward and recognition, develop skills and potential of the workers, and promote a positive working environment.

Job design breaks down complex tasks into simple tasks for the employees

According to Hackman & Oldham’s job characteristic theory, the designing of job should focus on stimulating three essential states of the job holder’s mind (Bakker & Leiter, 2010). The employee should develop a sense of responsibility, understanding and decipher meaning in the tasks assigned to them. These states of mind should result in engagement between the employee and the task they are performing to achieve personal satisfaction and better organisation performance (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001). Job design should help the workers to visualise their contribution to the organisation completing the assigned task thus bringing satisfaction.

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Job characteristics theory identifies five characteristics considered essential for employee satisfaction.  They include “skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy and feedback” (Bakker & Leiter, 2010, p. 88). Skill variety focuses on knowledge the employee may require performing the same task. Employees are motivated by jobs that require the application of various skills. The characteristics of task identity is concerned on whether the employee is responsible for completing part of the task or the entire job (Elliott, 2014).  Employees are motivated by being responsible for the entire task.  Task significance focuses on the significance of the job to the organisation. Employees get draws greater satisfaction from jobs that have a higher value to the organisation (Reinfeld, 2015). Autonomy is the extent to which employees are in control of the entire task and the more control they have, the higher the satisfaction. Finally, feedback involves the extent to which employees can get information regarding their performance. Employees are interested in how their supervisors or managers perceive of their performance and would like to work on the task in whose performance is easy to evaluate (Russell & Russell, 2010). The job with the five characteristics motivates employees because they are meaningful, make employees feel responsible and keep employees informed of the results their performance.

Through job design, the organisation can develop tasks with consideration of these five characteristics to achieve employee satisfaction. Employees get satisfaction and motivation from knowing their effort is adding value to the organisation and once the employee achieves they are likely to be appreciated by the top managers. Job design leads to employers delegating some responsibilities to the employees (Morgeson, & Humphrey, 2006). The employee gets satisfaction by having the authority to oversee execution of a particular task from initiation to completion.  The employees responsible for a certain task brings creates a sense of personal achievement and satisfaction.  When employees have an opportunity to handle challenging tasks they feel empowered and contented (Grant, & Parker, 2009). The human resource managers should design jobs in a way that ensures each employee is given a challenging task. Employees invoke innovation as they try to get a solution when faced with challenging situation (Ajayi, 2012). After overcoming the challenges, employees can rejoice and get satisfied with their achievement. According to Hertzberg’s two factor or motivation hygiene theory, there are two factors that motivate or demotivate employees.

Job design helps the organisation to focus on specific factors affecting employees

The Herzberg’s two-factor theory recognises organisational factors that can motivate or demotivate employees.  Motivators are the factors intrinsic to the work, and they motivate employees (Ajayi, 2012). The motivating factors include responsibility, recognition and personal achievement. The other category of factors referred as demotivating factors termed hygiene factors are extrinsic to the work. Hygiene factors include pay, supervision, working conditions, etc. (Daft & Marcic, 2012). The two-factor theory asserts that organisations can motivate their employees by offering them challenging task, recognising employees’ inputs and offering them an opportunity for growth. However, the only way an organisation can provide the hygiene factors is through proper job design.

Job design enables organisation to determine specific tasks for various employees. Smaller tasks can be merged to create a challenging for a particular employee. The employee becomes more efficient and productive by performing the task repeatedly (Bolweg, 2012). Since the employee has a better understanding of the task assigned to them, they motivated to accomplish the task efficiently. In addition, employees are motivated by having total control of the specific task assigned to them (Nargunde, 2013). Furthermore, considering that job design enables the organisation to assign a specific task to a certain employee, it becomes easy for the organisation to evaluate the employee’s performance and recognise their performance (Bratton, 2015). Therefore, job design contributes to employee motivation through recognition as stated by Herzberg two-factor theory.

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Job design helps employees to achieve personal growth

According to Abraham Maslow’s theory on hierarchy of needs, individuals needs can be satisfied from the most basic to the highest level. Maslow classifies human needs into five levels presented in a pyramid. Beginning from the bottom of the pyramid, Maslow puts physiological need at the bottom followed by security, affiliation, esteem and self-actualization at the top (Morgan-Clark, 2017). This is the order in which every person operates, and everyone begins with physiological or basic needs such as food. It is only after one has fully satisfied the needs at the lower level that they start pursuing the needs at the higher level. For instance, an employee will start with a basic need which the pay after which they start pursuing job security and the need for recognition at the level of affiliation.

Through job design, the organisation can help employees to satisfy their basic needs by assigning them a task, which they can handle effectively and earn wages or pay. By ensuring the employee has a task, they can repeatedly perform for a long time helps the employee to achieve job security, which is the second level in the hierarchy of needs (Chevalier, 2007). The employee at this level will be motivated to pursue the third level, which is affiliation such as seeking for recognition. The organisation should design challenging tasks that enable the employee to exercise creativity and effort to achieve recognition after completion of the task. Employees are motivated to continue pursuing higher needs such as esteem in which they seek an opportunity to express themselves and self-actualization such as by engaging in critical decision making at the top management level (Daft & Marcic, 2010). Therefore, job design plays significant role motivating employees to discover their potential in the organisation and engage in significant decision-making.

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Job design enables the organisation to improve working environment

According to Franklin (2006), job design is the very effective technique of motivating employees if implemented effectively. The management uses the various approach of job design to achieve employee satisfaction and organisational performance. The various approaches used by employers include job rotation, job enrichment and job enlargement (Benowitz, 2011). When these approaches are implemented the employees feel energised because they have the opportunity to exploit their knowledge and achieve higher satisfaction.

Job rotation is a job design approach that enables workers to shift from one task to another over a short period. Job rotation improves employees’ satisfaction and creates motivation by avoiding the monotony synonymous with job specialisation (DuPrey, 2009). The managers achieve job rotation by assigning the different employees tasks to be accomplished within a short period. This enables employees to assess their performance and appreciate their contribution to the organisation (Hiriyappa, 2015). Employees are motivated to complete each task assigned to them effectively and efficiently hence they become more productive.

Job enlargement aims at offering employees the opportunity to exploit their potential by taking personal responsibility. Employees manage their activities and correct their mistakes to achieve better performance (Parker, Wall, & Cordery, 2001). Organisations achieve employee motivation through job enlargement by improving the working environment for their employees. The jobs are structured in such as a way that employees understand their responsibilities and expected outcome with precision.

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Job enrichment empowers employees to make autonomous decisions on how to conduct their activities. Employees are motivated by having the power to decide how to execute various tasks (Lauby, 2015). This also promotes creativity as employees seek for better ways of doing things.  Employers should design jobs and let employees exercise autonomy over assigned tasks to improve employee motivation.

Financial incentives can offer better employee motivation

According to Bratton (2015, p. 178) using job design to motivate employees to involve changing intrinsic to influence how employees perceive the job. However, job design focus on individual satisfaction. Unfortunately, individuals differ in the way they perceive same working conditions or job (Garms, 2014). Therefore, it is difficult for managers to achieve a consistent outcome by changing the working environment or job design because each employee will have a different perception that affects their satisfaction and motivation. Therefore, financial incentives are most important employee motivation.

According to Adams equity theory, employees are motivated by the pay. Employees always compare their pay with what peers are earning. When employees are not comfortable with their pay, they will continue looking for greener pastures in other organisations (Stockdale & Steeper, 2014). Lack of financial motivation is considered the major cause of high labour turnover in organisations that pay their employee’s low wages. Some organisations tie financial benefits to employees’ performance to ensure both organisation and employees are benefiting from employees motivation.  Use of financial incentives to motivate employees is considered very expensive to the organisation although there is no guarantee that it will improve employee’s productivity (Bourne & Bourne, 2009). Furthermore, employees may work for money, but the lack of employee satisfaction cannot result in motivated employees.

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Conclusion

Job design is a very effective tool used by the employers to motivate employees. Instead of focusing on financial motivations employers can help employees to exploit their potential. The management can design jobs to provide motivating factors for the employees as described by the two-factor theory. In addition, as discussed in the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the employers can design jobs to enable employees to achieve various levels of needs as they accomplish various tasks in the organisation. Furthermore, designing jobs to achieve various characteristics described. Although monetary incentives are also important motivation for employees, non-financial motivations such as job design are very effective for employees motivation, employees productivity and organisational performance.

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