The concept of job enrichment is not new, by any means. In fact, most material on the subject points back more than 50 years to Frederick Herzberg, who is credited with the system and its name.
In its basic form, a job is an activity for which a person is compensated with money or other items of value. In exchange, the individual must produce a physical object or perform some useful service.
Enrichment is the process through which something gets better, more pleasing, more satisfying etc. This expansion and change may take place in a number of ways.
For some, an enriched job is one in which the employee has additional activities or responsibilities that he is anticipating. These tasks must have meaning for the individual worker as well as for the company or organization in which it is being done. For the job to be truly enriching in these circumstances, a manager or company owner should be prepared to provide information about the results.
For job enrichment to be successful there must be a detailed plan, from the start. As one great motivational speaker said, you can’t hit a target you can’t see. The goals and objectives must be realistic and obtainable, and well-within the capabilities of the workers ask to participate.
The employee must also have the proper tools to perform the job, whether these are in the form of physical equipment, written outlines or design plans. One of the key factors in job enrichment is open sharing of all information about the task and its results. Keeping this information from the employee has the effect of nullifying any prior enrichment of the job and work atmosphere.
Those who champion job enrichment as a way to improve production, profits and employee satisfaction emphasize that this process is not the same as making a job more challenging or difficult. That alone may lead to resentment and dissatisfaction on the part of the employee.
During the planning and implementation of job enrichment, the manager, supervisor or other task leader must also introduce variety. This will help with employee satisfaction and can truly enrich the job as an educational process.
One of the most effective ways to determine if any change is needed in a work situation is to ask the right questions. In the case of job enrichment, a manager on his or her toes would ask if the employees are bored.
If the answer is yes, then something must be done to stimulate interest and improve the atmosphere in which the work is being done. At the heart of this process is retention of the best people in the organization. Managers and business owners have found out, too late that good employees often leave out of boredom, rather than because of a pay issue.
A company will find itself in trouble if the decision makers avoid change by saying “we never did it that way before.” In fact, job enrichment means shaking up the established order in a careful and well-designed way.
Experience has taught businesses large and small that unsatisfactory results may often be traced back to improperly implementing a job-enrichment program. While it is admirable to seek employee growth and company strength by enriching the worker’s position, the initial plan is a most critical factor.