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Job Design: Definition and Purpose

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  • 0:05 Job Design
  • 1:51 Scientific Management
  • 2:51 Job Enlargement & Rotation
  • 4:03 Job Enrichment
  • 4:50 Job Characteristics Theory
  • 5:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
A correctly defined job design will attract the right applicants and decrease job turnover by helping everyone understand their responsibilities up front. This lesson explores four approaches that companies can use to create a job design and communicate job tasks to current and potential employees.

Job Design

Violet Jones's first job out of high school was working at a popular pizza restaurant as a waitress. She was so excited to earn her first paycheck. Unfortunately, her excitement faded very quickly when she realized that she had no clue as to what her job responsibilities entailed. She was fired within the first week. The reason was because Violet thought her only responsibility was to wait tables and provide food deliveries. She did not know or understand that she was also responsible for other tasks, such as cleaning tables, restocking supplies, and even taking out the trash at the end of the shift.

Violet's bad experience in the restaurant world could have been avoided if her company provided a job design. This is a written document outlining the job responsibilities, qualifications, and required duties of a job. It also details how, what, and in what sequence tasks should be completed for the job. A properly designed job should also attract the right candidate because the potential employee will know exactly what to expect from the position. Violet would not have applied for the pizza job if she knew that she was also responsible for cleaning and trash collection. A correctly defined job design will also decrease job turnover and quitting, since the applicant will understand their responsibilities up front. Scientific management, job enlargement/job rotation, job enrichment, and the job characteristic theory are four approaches to developing job designs that companies can embrace. Now Violet Jones has been hired to be a manager at Intestinal Distress Taco Restaurant. The franchise is brand new, and the company needs to decide which approach they will use in establishing job responsibilities.

Scientific Management

The first approach, called scientific management, emphasizes work simplification and explicit specifications regarding the job tasks. This approach is best suited for jobs that are scientifically-specific. The details are set so the employee does not need to concern themselves with analyzing or thinking about their duties. The jobs usually defined by scientific management are repetitive piecework, such as factory work. The advantages to this type of work are that it allows all workers to understand their tasks and create efficient production due to repetitive, precise work.

The big disadvantage is that it does not allow for any worker thought or creativity. This would eliminate worker feedback, which helps with job productivity. Intestinal Distress Taco initially thought about using this approach for the food preparation part of the restaurant. But, they believe that it might cause high turnover and limit creativity, so they decided not to use this exact approach.

Job Enlargement and Rotation

Companies can use another approach to help eliminate boredom that can occur in highly specialized jobs. Job enlargement and rotation are two methods of job design that can help overcome issues with repetitive work. Job enlargement is an approach to job design that tries to increase the number of tasks to eliminate boredom of specialized work. Intestinal Distress Taco has embraced this approach for most of their stores. For example, the food preparation workers have to prepare the tacos by following specific steps and ending with wrapping up the final product. As part of the job enlargement approach, the taco restaurant also asks the employees to handle washing of produce and restocking inventory shelves.

Job rotation, also called cross-training, is an approach where workers are subjected to a variety of specialized jobs to help eliminate boredom. For example, Intestinal Distress Taco also has their workers rotate from food prep, to order taker, to front office finance to expose them to different skills and to keep them challenged. This is also of value to companies, as employees who have excellent skill sets are more valuable overall.

Job Enrichment

Violet Jones was identified by management early on at Intestinal Distress Taco as a high-potential employee. The managers created a job enrichment program to keep her motivated and challenged at work. This approach is when an employee is given more vertical responsibility and recognition. Violet was entered into the management training program early. She was given management-type responsibilities with her waitress job. She had to track inventory, place orders, and tally receipts at the end of the shift.

One problem with job enrichment programs is that employees can get overwhelmed with the additional responsibilities. It is a good way for companies to give employees a try in different positions before promoting them permanently. The last approach is radically different from the other three types.

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