JOB DESIGN NOTES

11.0 Introduction
Jobs are fundamental to organizations. They are the principal vehicles for the allocation of tasks, duties and roles to the various personnel employed by the organization. Most organizations are faced by change in one form or another. Adapting the organization to respond adequately to change, is a growing focus of attention in business and public services. Job design is therefore a key element in responding to changing conditions.

11.1 Job Design
The concept of job design is ascribed to Davis and Canter (1955), who saw job design as the organization (or structuring) of a job to satisfy the technical –organization requirements of the work and the human requirements of the person performing the work. Davis’s work led him to identify a number of design problems relating to the structuring of jobs. These were:

  • Identifying job boundaries
  • Identifying the factors of work in jobs
  • Determining methods of estimating and controlling these factors
  • Developing systematic design methods
  • Developing criteria for evaluating designs

Davis concluded that in order to achieve more effective performance and greater job satisfaction on the part of the employee, it was necessary for jobs to be meaningful to the individual concerned.

11.2 Approaches to Job Design
1. Job Design and Scientific Management
The rationale of Scientific Management is where human work and effort is seen in terms of its relationship to machines and the systems created for them. The hallmarks of job design according to scientific management approach are as follows:

  • Maximum degree of job specialization
  • Minimal level of skill
  • Minimal level of completion of tasks
  • Minimal learning time
  • Maximum use of machines
  • Minimal degree of flexibility or discretion in the job
  • Measurability of job tasks

2. Socio –Technical Systems
Jobs are seen as arising from, and dependent on, the way in which the management approached the technical and social features of their organization. The social system embraces both formal and informal groups, for example, official work-teams and unofficial groupings based on friendships and other informal relationships. The technical system encompasses tasks and production processes as well as visible features such as plant and equipment.

3. The Quality of Working Life
The aim of quality of working life is geared towards creating conditions in which employee needs are given a high priority compared with the requirements of technology. In relation to tasks:

  • Tasks should form a coherent job
  • Tasks should provide some variety of peace, method , location and skill
  • Tasks should provide feedback on performance
  • Tasks should provide for some degree of discretion by the person concerned

In relation to job and work organization:

  • There should be opportunities for learning and development
  • Some sort of desirable future should be available
  • People should be able to contribute towards decisions affecting their job
  • Work goals should be clear and provide a degree of challenge
  • Adequate resources should be available to the job holders

In relation to the work context:

  • Industrial relations procedures should be jointly agreed between management and employees
  • Payments systems should be seen to be fair and should be related to contribution made.
  • Personnel policies should be fair and adequate
  • Physical surroundings should be reasonable

4. Job Enrichment and Job Enlargement
The term job enrichment was coined by Hertzberg (1968) to denote the vertical enlargement of a job by adding responsibility and opportunity for personal growth. Job enlargement generally involves only the horizontal extension of the job i.e. more of the same
thing. Hertzberg (1968) puts it thus: Job enrichment provides the opportunity for the employee’s psychological growth while job enlargement merely makes a job structurally bigger. In job enrichment the emphasis in redesigning jobs is directed towards individual job satisfaction rather than towards increased efficiency.

5. Autonomous Work Groups
The idea of autonomous work groups is an extension of job enrichment to a collection of jobs. Such groups tend possess the following characteristics:

  • They permit full labour flexibility by job rotation
  • They have a considerable degree of autonomy in the allocation of work between members

11.3 Changing Technology in Office Systems
Microelectronic technology has a number of distinctive features. It is flexible. Instantaneous and can be rapidly modified. It is reliable, available and cheap. The new technology poses a challenge to trade union representatives. If questions of job content, skills, training and grading are neglected (by the union) there is a danger that a large potion of the office workforce will find itself in more routine and less satisfying jobs. Information Technology presents opportunities as well as threats to employees.

Advantages

  1. Learning new skills
  2. Tedious jobs can be relegated to machines
  3. Possibility of upgrading
  4. Easier and quicker access to information
  5. Easier means of remedying typing errors/ amending text
  6. More jobs for those who are skilled in maintenance of electronic equipment
  7. More jobs for programmers and software designers
  8. Opportunities for shorter working day/week

Disadvantages

  1. Fewer jobs will be required
  2. Office workers might become machine minders
  3. Individuals might be tied to their work stations
  4. Health problems associated with Visual Display Units/printers, etc
  5. Difficulties of learning to operate electronic machines
  6. Strong competition between employees for available jobs
  7. Loss of personal contact as information is passed by machine instead of mouth
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