What is Job Design?
The logical sequence to job analysis is job design. Job analysis provides job-related data as well as the skills and knowledge expected of the incumbent to discharge the job. Job design, then, involves conscious efforts to organize tasks, duties, and responsibilities into a unit of work to achieve certain objectives.
Thus, job design involves three steps
1. The specification of individual tasks,
2. The specification of the method(s) of performing each task, and
3. The combination of tasks into specific jobs to be assigned to individuals.
Steps l and 3 determine the content of the job, while Step 2 indicates precisely how the job shall be performed. While designing a job. requirements of the organization and individual needs of the job holder must be considered. The key to successful job design lies in balancing the requirements of the organization and the job holder.
Job design is affected by organizational, environmental and behavioral factors. A properly designed job will make it productive and satisfying. If a job fails on this count, the fault lies with the job designers who, based on the feedback, must redesign the job.
Various Factors Affecting Job Design
Organizational factors include characteristics of task, work flow, ergonomics, and work practices.
Characteristics of Task: Job design requires the assembly of a number of tasks into a job or a group of jobs. An individual may carry out one main task which consists of a number of interrelated elements or functions. On the other hand, task functions may be split between a team working closely together or strung a long an assembly line.
In more complex jobs, individuals may carry out a variety of connected tasks, each with a number of functions, or these tasks may be allocated to a group of workers or divided between them. Complexity in a job may be a reflection of the number and variety of tasks to be carried out, or the range and scope of the decisions that have to be made, or the difficulty of predicting the outcome of decisions.
The internal structure of each task consists of three elements: (i) planning (deciding the course of action. timing and the resources required), (ii) executing (carrying out the plan), and (iii) controlling (monitoring performance and taking corrective action when required). A completely integrated job will include all these elements for each of the tasks involved. The worker (or group of workers) having been given objectives in terms of output, quality and cost targets, decides on how the work is to be done, assembles the resources, performs the work, and monitors output, quality and cost standards. Responsibility in a job is measured by the amount of authority someone has to put to do all these things. The ideal job design is to integrate all the three elements.
Work Flow: The flow of work in a firm is strongly influenced by the nature of the product or service. The product or service usually suggests the sequence and balance between jobs if the work is to be done efficiently. For example, the frame of a car must be built before the fenders and the doors can be added later. After the sequence of jobs is determined, the balance between jobs is established.
Ergonomics: Ergonomics is concerned with designing and shaping jobs to fit the physical abilities and characteristics of individuals so that they can perform their jobs effectively. Ergonomics helps employers to design jobs in such a way that worker’s physical abilities and job demands are balanced. Ergonomics does not alter the nature of job tasks but the location of tools, switches and other facilities, keeping in view that the handling the job is the primary consideration.
Work Practices: Work practices are set ways of performing works. These methods may arise from tradition or the collective wishes of employees. Either way, the HR department’s flexibility to design jobs is limited, especially when such practices are part of a union-management relationship. Failure to consider work practices can have undesirable outcomes.
Work practices were, till now, determined by time and motion study which determined the standard time needed to complete a given job. The study required repeated observations. The accuracy of the readings depend on the competence of the engineer. Deviations from the normal work-cycle caused distortions in measurement, was biased towards existing work practices with little effort at methods improvement, and could be carried out only when production was underway.
Environmental elements affect all activities of HRM, and job design is no exception. The external factors that have a bearing on job design are employee abilities and availability, and social and cultural expectations.
Employee Abilities and Availability: Efficiency consideration must be balanced against the abilities and availability of the people who are to do the work. When Henry Ford made use of the assembly line, for example, he was aware that most potential workers lacked any automobile-making experience. So jobs were designed simple and required little training. Therefore, considerable thought must be given as to who will actually do the work.
Social and Cultural Expectations: There were days when getting a job was the primary consideration. The worker was prepared to work on any job and under any working conditions. Not any more. Literacy, knowledge and awareness among workers have improved considerably, so also their expectations from jobs. Hence jobs must be designed to meet the expectations of workers.
When designing jobs for international operation, uniform designs are almost certain to neglect national and cultural differences. Hours of work, holidays, vacations, rest breaks. religious beliefs, management styles, and worker sophistication and attitudes are just some of the predictable differences that can affect the design of jobs across international borders. Failure to consider these social expectations can create dissatisfaction, low motivation, hard-to-fill job openings and a low quality of work life, especially when foreign nationals are involved in the home country or overseas.
Behavioural factors have to do with human needs and the necessity to satisfy them. Higher-level needs are more significant in this context. Individuals inspired by higher-level needs find jobs challenging and satisfying which are high on the following dimensions:
Feedback: Individuals need to receive meaningful feedback about their performance, preferably by evaluating their own performance and defining the feedback. This implies that they need to ideally work on a complete product or on a significant part of it.
Autonomy: Autonomy is being responsible for what one does. It is the freedom to control one’s responses to the environment. Jobs that give workers authority to make decisions will provide added responsibilities, which tend to increase the employee’s sense of recognition and self-esteem. The absence of autonomy, on the other hand, can cause employee apathy or poor performance.
Use of Abilities: The job must be perceived by individuals as requiring them to use abilities they value in order to perform the job effectively.
Variety: Lack of variety may cause boredom. Boredom, in turn, leads to fatigue and fatigue causes mistakes. By injecting variety into jobs, personnel specialists can reduce errors caused by fatigue.