Job Enrichment: Definition, Advantages, Disadvantages & Examples

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  • 0:04 What Is Job Enrichment?
  • 1:20 Reason for Enriching Jobs
  • 1:48 Principles of Job Enrichment
  • 3:43 Advantages & Disadvantages
  • 4:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Alexander von Sternberg
Expert Contributor
Jerry Allison

Jerry holds a Doctor of Business Administration and a Master’s in Mathematics. He has taught business, math, and accounting for over 25 years.

What is job enrichment? What are the benefits of a job enrichment program? Are there disadvantages to enriching jobs? In this lesson we'll discuss what job enrichment is, how to do it, and the good and bad of modifying jobs in your organization.

What Is Job Enrichment?

Job enrichment is a management concept that involves redesigning jobs so that they're more challenging to the employee and have less repetitive work. The concept is based on a 1968 Harvard Business Review article by psychologist Frederick Herzberg titled ''One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?'' In the article, Herzberg stated that the greatest employee motivators, based on several investigations, are (in descending order): achievement, recognition, work itself, responsibility, advancement, and growth. To improve employee motivation and productivity, jobs should be modified to increase the motivators present for the employee.

To make this concept more usable, let's imagine you're a company manager and want to increase the satisfaction of your staff. As you walk through the process of job enrichment, you'll need to keep in mind these goals:

  • Reduce repetitive work.
  • Increase the employee's feelings of recognition and achievement.
  • Provide opportunities for employee advancement (as in promotions into jobs requiring more skills).
  • Provide opportunities for employee growth (as in, an increase in skills and knowledge without a job promotion).

Reason for Enriching Jobs

The purpose of job enrichment is to make the position more satisfying to the employee. Overall goals for the company often include increasing employee job satisfaction, reducing turnover, and improving productivity of employees.

To rephrase this as if it's coming from the mouth of the company manager or even the CEO: ''We want to enrich our staff's positions so that they'll be happier, more productive, and less likely to seek a job elsewhere.''

Principles of Job Enrichment

Vertical job loading is the terminology used by Herzberg to describe his principles for enriching positions and giving employees more challenging work. It's intended to contrast with job enlargement, a.k.a. horizontal job loading, which often involves giving employees more work without changing the challenge level.

To enrich a position, you first need to brainstorm a list of potential changes to the position. Once you have a list of options, Herzberg recommends using the following seven principles to review the options, and shortlist only those that invoke one or more of the following:

  1. Removing some controls while retaining accountability
  2. Increasing the accountability of individuals for own work
  3. Giving a person a complete, natural unit of work
  4. Granting additional authority to employees in their activity
  5. Making periodic reports directly available to the workers themselves rather than to supervisors
  6. Introducing new and more difficult tasks not previously handled
  7. Assigning individuals specific or specialized tasks; enabling them to become experts

For example, you might have on your list ''Allow staffer A to present the monthly report directly to senior management.'' When you review this option against our list above, you find that it will meet the following goals:

  • Increasing the accountability of individuals for own work by having them present directly to senior staff.
  • Granting additional authority to employees in their activities by trusting them to make a presentation to a second-level manager.

Since it does meet some of the goals on our enrichment list, it would be added to the shortlist. Once you have a final list, prioritize the options and document implementation steps and dates for each option you plan to implement.

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Additional Activities

Job Enrichment

Research Project

Read some writings on the Internet regarding Herzberg's work. Herzberg stated seven principles that can be used to enrich a position. Do the writings you find suggest other ways of enriching a position other than Herzberg's. Is there anything in Herzberg's list or from the writings you feel should not be there and do not enrich a position? If so, what is it, and why do you believe it does not belong? Is there anything that you feel should be a part of enriching a position that is not mentioned by Herzberg or the writings you found? If so, what is it and why do you feel it belongs in the list. Write a report about your findings.

Discussion Question

Gomez has a business and wants to enrich the positions of his employees. He knows that by enriching the jobs, he can create job satisfaction. He approaches two of his employees, Pugsley and Wednesday, at different times and suggests giving them new and more difficult tasks they have not had before (#6 in Herzberg's list). Do you think Pugsley and Wednesday will react the same way? Why or why not? Do you think Pugsley and Wednesday will view this job enrichment the same way? Why or why not? Do you think they will have the same amount of job satisfaction increase (if there is one)? Why or why not?

Survey Project

Make a list of at least ten people who have jobs and that you know well. Ask them the following questions and record their answers:

1. Describe a time when your job (or former job) became better, and you became more satisfied with your job. What happened to cause this change in your job, and why did it make you feel more satisfied?

2. Describe a time when your job (or former job) became worse, and you became more dissatisfied with your job. What happened to cause this change in your job, and why did it make you feel more dissatisfied?

3. What could change in your current job that would cause you to feel more satisfied? Why would this cause satisfaction?

4. What could change in your current job that would cause you to feel more dissatisfied? Why would this cause dissatisfaction?

Analyze the responses from these individuals and determine how Herzberg's list of seven principles is involved.

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