Job Rotation, Job Enlargement and Job Enrichment

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Hawthorne Effect > Best Practices > Job Rotation, Job Enlargement and Job Enrichment

Job Rotation, Job Enlargement and Job Enrichment
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT
At first, a very strong, rational division of tasks may seem logical, effective and efficient. However employees are not machines and such scientific approach is neither good for the motivation of employees, nor for their personal/professional development.

HUMAN RELATIONS MOVEMENT
That's why in the 1940-60's, following the Hawthorne experiments, 3 forms of social work structuring are slowly being introduced: job enlargement, job enrichment and job rotation.
  • Job Enlargement. The tasks of an employee are extended with other tasks of the same (horizontal) level in the organization chart.
  • Job Enrichment. The tasks of an employee are extended with other tasks of a higher (vertical) level in the organization chart. This means more skills are needed, more important work is done, more autonomy and responsibilities are given to such employee.
  • Job Rotation. An employee is performing the job and tasks of another employee. This may be ad hoc (like when you are taking over tasks from someone else during his/her illness), temporarily (like in case of a pregnancy) or more or less permanently (as a planned HR initiative).

BENEFITS OF JOB ROTATION, ENLARGEMENT AND ENRICHMENT
Employers and employees both benefit from offering and opting in to these techniques. Employers practice these work design techniques for a number of reasons, including:
  • Increased employee morale / motivation (reduced boredom, better promotion chances).
  • Increased workforce flexibility / versatility through employee learning (easier takeover of tasks in case of illness of an employee, easier promotion to higher levels).
  • Relieved stress and musculoskeletal (Repetitive Strain Injury) levels leading to lower absenteeism.
DRAWBACKS OF JOB ROTATION, ENLARGEMENT AND ENRICHMENT
  • Productivity losses caused by less specialization.
  • Increased training costs.
  • Possibility of having to pay incentives to workers for cooperation with the job rotation / enlargement / enrichment implementation.
  • Perceived inequality by those not participating.
CONTINGENCY FACTORS OF JOB ROTATION, ENLARGEMENT AND ENRICHMENT
So, should all employers apply these work design techniques and to what extent? The answer depends on the situation and circumstances like:
  • The type of company (manufacturing plant, bank, or local government).
  • The type of work (manual or knowledge work).
  • The traits of the employee (knowledge, skills, growth aspirations, needs, level).
 

     
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