The Learning Activity titled “Approaches to Job Design” mentions several ways to motivate employees through job design. Select two of the examples mentioned in the reading and elaborate on how these ideas worked for the industries in the examples. Then, describe whether or not these ideas would work for your organization and explain why or why not.
JOB CHARACTERISTICS MODEL
Approaches to Job Design
Many of us assume the most important motivator at work is pay. Yet, studies point to a different factor as the major influence over worker motivation—job design. How a job is designed has a major impact on employee motivation, job satisfaction, commitment to an organization, absenteeism, and turnover.
The question of how to properly design jobs so that employees are more productive and more satisfied has received attention from managers and researchers since the beginning of the 20th century. In this activity will review major approaches to job design starting from its early history.
Motivating Employees Through Job Design
Perhaps the earliest attempt to design jobs came during the era of scientific management. Scientific management is a philosophy based on the ideas of Frederick Taylor as presented in his 1911 book, Principles of Scientific Management. Taylor’s book is among the most influential books of the 20th century; the ideas presented had a major influence over how work was organized in the following years. Taylor was a mechanical engineer in the manufacturing industry. He saw work being done haphazardly, with only workers in charge. He saw the inefficiencies inherent in employees’ production methods and argued that a manager’s job was to carefully plan the work to be performed by employees. He also believed that scientific methods could be used to increase productivity. As an example, Taylor found that instead of allowing workers to use their own shovels, as was the custom at the time, providing specially designed shovels increased productivity. Further, by providing training and specific instructions, he was able to dramatically reduce the number of laborers required to handle each job.
This Ford panel assembly line in Berlin, Germany, is an example of specialization. Each person on the line has a different job.© Comstock/Stockbyte/Thinkstock
Scientific management proposed a number of ideas that have been influential in job design in the following years. An important idea was to minimize waste by identifying the most efficient method to perform the job. Using time–motion studies, management could determine how much time each task would require and plan the tasks so that the job could be performed as efficiently as possible. Therefore, standardized job performance methods were an important element of scientific management techniques. Each job would be carefully planned in advance, and employees would be paid to perform the tasks in the way specified by management.
Furthermore, job specialization was one of the major advances of this approach. Job specialization is the breaking down tasks to their simplest components and assigning them to employees so that each person would perform few tasks in a repetitive manner. There are a number of advantages to job specialization. Breaking tasks into simple components and making them repetitive reduces the skill requirements of the jobs and decreases the effort and cost of staffing. Training times for simple, repetitive jobs tend to be shorter as well. On the other hand, from a motivational perspective, these jobs are boring and repetitive and therefore associated with negative outcomes such as absenteeism (Campion & Thayer, 1987). Also, job specialization is ineffective in rapidly changing environments where employees may need to modify their approach according to the demands of the situation (Wilson, 1999).
Today, Taylorism has a bad reputation, and it is often referred to as the “dark ages” of management when employees’ social motives were ignored. Yet, it is important to recognize the fundamental change in management mentality brought about by Taylor’s ideas. For the first time, managers realized their role in influencing the output levels of employees. The concept of scientific management has had a lasting impact on how work is organized. Taylor’s work paved the way to automation and standardization that is virtually universal in today’s workplace. Assembly lines where each worker performs simple tasks in a repetitive manner are a direct result of job specialization efforts. Job specialization eventually found its way to the service industry as well. One of the biggest innovations of the famous McDonald brothers’ first fast-food restaurant was the application of scientific management principles to their operations. They divided up the tasks so that one person took the orders while someone else made the burgers, another person applied the condiments, and yet another wrapped them. With this level of efficiency, customers generally received their order within one minute (Spake, 2001).
Note: Adapted from “Motivating Employees Through Job Design,” by Bauer, T., and Erdogan, B., 2010, Organizational Behavior, v. 1.1, Chapter 6. Copyright 2010 Flat World Knowledge, Inc.
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the application of scientific management and job strategy can help in reducing the cost of operation, such as handling the claims (Su, 2017). The company needs to replace the current simple habits and replace them with scientific methods in studying the work and determine the most efficient method of performing different tasks such as processing claims. Secondly, the company needs to train its employees before allocating them to any position to work as maximum efficiency and boost their motivation. It also needs to monitor the job performance and offer additional instruction and supervision to ensure that the most efficient methods are used. Lastly, it needs to allocate work between the employees and managers so that the managers spend most of their time planning and training the employee to execute the tasks efficiently. The company can utilize these ideas to reduce employee turnover and increase the number of claims handled after a specific duration. It will eventually improve customers satisfaction and the number of policy sales.