By Tony Deblauwe
economy picks up, more job opportunities are becoming available. We’ve already
started to see many companies like Cisco and Intel open jobs that were absent
through much of 2009. Internal opportunities are surfacing as well with many
employees looking to make a change within their current company. Unfortunately
for many, the change they seek may not be in the form of a promotion with new challenges;
rather the new role is merely a piling on of additional duties to an existing
Job enlargement increases an employee’s scope (and workload) to accommodate a business need. That need can mean increasing competences against a new customer or industry demand, or to offset lack of resources brought about from lack of hiring or turnover. The employee on the receiving end may interpret the added duties as positive at first, but often the change is not accompanied with any reward or removal of other tasks The employee gains more responsibility but remains largely in the same role.
Job enrichment takes a different stance. Rather than simply adding duties, an employee’s talents are leveraged to address various business challenges. Meaningful tasks are assigned to an employee based on their interests and performance history. This could include researching trends, project managing a new program, doing a job rotation – basically anything that aligns what the employee wants to do, and is good at, against a business deliverable. Enrichment is the true win-win for a company and its employees.
Why the Disconnect?
After a year of little movement or change, the level of employee engagement is suffering. Surveys from Gallup and the Conference Board, show employee motivation, morale, and high performance output, is at an all time low. Even with merit budgets slightly de-thawed, this latest round of increases has not perked people up to pre-recessionary production levels. Workers are still interested in having a job of course, but they want more. They crave challenges that show off their abilities and yield real rewards. Companies are beginning to see the effects as people seek outside employment rather than be assigned more duties disguised as a benefit.
Finding the Balance
an exact science finding the intersection of job enrichment versus enlargement.
Many factors are at play including employee’s perceptions of what constitutes
tasks that they feel utilize their talents well versus help the company’s interests
only. As with most workforce planning and career development programs, open
communication and aligned needs and interests becomes key. Here are three tips
management and HR can do to strike a balance:
1. Have a talent matrix
Many problems around job duty changes, task re-direction, and career growth stem from a missing talent management plan. A talent matrix is an organization’s accounting for the skills that exist – both in skills that aren’t immediately used in the business and those that are critical. All of the skills are captured from individual growth plans, resume data, and conversations with employees. A good matrix shows who is good at what, and what people want to do. With this data it’s easier for managers to know who to assign to what when the opportunity arises. Click here to see an example presentation including a simple matrix form from Knowledge Infusion consultants.
2. Conduct career development discussions
People processes are as important to maintain engagement and connection as being a solid task master. Under stressful conditions, like the survival mode many companies have faced in the last several months, paying attention to employee growth needs takes a back seat. This is a mistake. A regularly planned discussion with employees demonstrates a commitment to talent regardless of the business conditions.
Most people are not entitlists – they can see conditions are poor and don’t count on promotions or enrichment offers. What they do care about is communication. When managers ignore or abandon a career development discussion, that’s when employee’s think they’re not cared for or feel valuable. It’s important to set-up regular quarterly check-ins to make sure employees know what the conditions are and that they are heard in terms of what they want to do and where they want to go. Click here for sample guidelines about career development programs in the workplace.
3. Tie practices to strategic value
Just having data about your talent and talking about career development isn’t enough. A corporate philosophy has to surround these practices because it benefits the company. This concept seems simple enough but many companies insert “be happy you have a job” as a measure to job enlargement or enrichment. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether you’re doing exactly what you should be doing in your job duties – we’re paying you to work and that should be enough.
It may not
be communicated in this overt style, but behaviorally from management, the subtly
is there in the form of no commutation or action. That’s why management and HR
have to show the value of these programs. The data has to connect with competitive
advantage that also leads to increased productivity and job satisfaction. Click
here for some ideas on workplace planning strategies from Washington State’s
Department of Personnel.
Building business-relevant connections with employee talent and interests will continue to be a vital tool for company’s to survive the economy and maintain competitive advantage. Creating the right motivational foundation through carefully planned job enrichment and enlargement practices will mean the difference between dealing with retention issues due to turnover versus an engaged workforce.
Please share your opinions and links regarding job enrichment and enlargement!