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Job Redesign as a Tool for Reducing Organizational Stress

Instructor: Scott Tuning

Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.

Employees who are unmotivated an unsatisfied often increase cost and reduce productivity. This lesson explores techniques for reducing organizational stress by maximizing employee satisfaction through job redesign.

Employee Stress Contributes to Organizational Stress

Negative employees are toxic to a workplace, and employees who lack motivation cost companies millions in lost productivity. Additionally, employee turnover is expensive, and unhappy employees are more likely to undermine their employer in any number of intentional and unintentional ways. One of the most effective tools to optimize job satisfaction is to consider job redesign. Redesigning a job is the process of modifying the responsibilities and accountabilities associated with a role within the organization. Employers use the job redesign process to provide their employees with an increase in job satisfaction and motivation.

Indifferent employees can increase organization stress quickly and exponentially.
Fig1

Using Job Redesign to Reduce Employee Stress

In the United States, a long-term shortage of registered nurses has created challenges for hospitals. Some innovative health organizations have made job redesign an integral part of reducing the impact of nursing shortages while simultaneously improving job satisfaction, motivation, and productivity.

Texas Health Resources (THR) is one such organization. Using a process called gap analysis, the organization sat down with employee representatives to determine if the company was making good use of the whole of their ability and expertise.

Once the gaps were identified, the organization launched a program they called the ''clinical ladder''. The clinical ladder was a series of job redesigns that created a pathway for employees to advance within the organization, and to work to their full capacity each step of the way. The ladder was remarkable in the sense that it provided a way for an employee entering the organization at the lowest level, to make steady progress toward more challenging roles.

This program was, and still is, very effective at improving and maintaining a high level of employee satisfaction.

The first and best place to start talking about job redesign is with the people who are actually performing the work.
Fig2

Using Job Redesign to Reduce Organizational Stress

Employee Benefits Realized by Job Redesign

We've already identified that employee stress can quickly lead to organizational stress, but the inverse is also true. Satisfied employees are far more productive than their unmotivated counterparts. THR's clinical ladder works to reduce the stress of the organization because it fills the gaps between current performance and future potential.

One of the most significant job redesigns undertaken by THR was the nursing ladder. Since the organization identified a nursing shortage as an ongoing threat, one of the first jobs to be redesigned was that of the certified nursing assistants (CNA). At THR, this role was an entry-level position with job duties including patient hygiene, assisting with ambulation, and transferring patients within the hospital. The job paid around $11 an hour and required about eight weeks of training.

After a year of employment, individuals in this role were eligible to apply for a program that would fund the education process to become a registered nurse and pay the regular wages of the employee during the training process, which was about two years at the time. In return, the employee was required to commit to a minimum of four years full-time employment after obtaining registration as a nurse. When these four years had been completed, the same terms were offered for RNs who wanted to become advanced practice nurses.

Employer Benefits Realized by Job Redesign

The ways in which a program like this reduced organizational stress by job redesign are almost too good to be true. The potential for advancement over an entire career brought in employees who, if desired, could essentially stay with the employer for the majority of their working years. Naturally, this significantly decreased the cost associated with both voluntary and involuntary turnover.

The nationwide nursing shortage was one of THR's most significant long-term threats, and this job redesign process provided the organization with a long-term, sustainable solution to its most significant danger. The job redesign process associated with this nursing ladder was so profound that nursing employees routinely turned down employment opportunities with a substantially higher base rate of pay, because their job satisfaction at THR was incredibly high, and the advancement potential was more important than a few dollars an hour on a paycheck.

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