Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Job Design

Job design refers to the way that a set of tasks, or an entire job, is organized. Job design helps to determine:

  • what tasks are done,
  • how the tasks are done,
  • how many tasks are done, and
  • in what order the tasks are done.
"A well designed job will encourage a variety of 'good' body positions, have reasonable strength requirements, require a reasonable amount of mental activity, and help foster feelings of achievement and self-esteem".

Today’s organizations are more complex, more flexible, and have flatter structures. So it’s critical to ensure that the jobs within your organization are designed to reap business strategy rewards efficiently and cost-effectively.

Hay Group, with its unmatched research and six-plus decades of working with clients, understands the value that well-designed jobs add to any organization. For example, well-designed jobs show a clear correlation to the effectiveness of the World’s Most Admired Companies. They also are a driver of superior performance. And, when coupled with an effective organizational structure, well-designed jobs can reduce direct employment costs by 10% or more.

Hay Group’s approach to job analysis and design brings significant benefits:

  • Organizational strategy—not politics, history or arbitrary decisions—drive job design.
  • Job design emerges from the work people must do in order to deliver on organizational strategy.
  • Jobs evolve from narrow, task-oriented modes to multi-dimensional.
  • Workers are more focused on and accountable for delivering results.
  • We identify and help eliminate jobs that are not adding value.

Hay Group’s foundations spring from our pioneering work measurement efforts. We use this rich expertise to create a structured method in job design, working from the “outside in.” In doing so, we consider three simple questions:

  • What is the strategy designed to achieve?
  • What jobs are needed to deliver that strategy?
  • What capabilities will ensure workforce success?

We help clients design, assess, and describe jobs in ways that improve their contribution to business success, using a variety of tools and techniques to:

  • Understand how strategy is translated into work processes;
  • Identify key activities;
  • Define the work flow; and
  • Understand the skills and abilities individuals will need to be successful in the job.

Based on that information, we design jobs that are “doable,” with clearly defined accountability for delivering results, and with optimum problem-solving and know-how levels.

Most of all, we focus on designing jobs that add value and are clearly connected to business strategy. Our approach to job analysis and design is used globally, in all types and sizes of organizations and cultures.

Through the decades, thousands of organizations in the public and private sectors have asked us to analyze and design more effective, productive jobs, and add value by improving accountability, increasing productivity, and reducing employment costs.

The vast majority of Canadians say that they want work that is interesting, meaningful and allows for ability and skill development. Providing this kind of work means taking a close look at how jobs are designed. For example, by organizing work into teams, or making better use of job rotation and cross training strategies, employers can better meet the expectations that Canadians have of work. As well, job rotation and multi-skilling (training employees to perform a wider range of tasks) can provide workers with better opportunities to use their skills, greater variety in their working day, and more say over how they perform their work. Such strategies can also help improve a firm’s capacity to adapt to changing markets through a more skilled and flexible workforce. At least that’s what research suggests. In light of the potential benefits to be reaped by redesigning jobs in a more flexible manner, how common are such practices in Canadian workplaces? Are some firms better suited to organize work differently than others? Are there notable differences in the organization of work by industry or by region?

Define job design to increase productivity

EMPLOYEES today no more hold jobs which require them to handle a single task and work within set boundaries. With companies expanding, subject matter increasing and the scope widening, one often finds that our job tasks do not revolve around a single work allotment. It is often a combination and a mix 'n match of varied tasks, which makes up a single job post.

Your job could also entail you to take on inter-related elements, which broaden the job outlook. Your area of specialisation might be the central subject of work, but certain amount of variance does enter your work. This is due to the multi-displinarity of job tasks and scope of particular posts. At the end of the day, your job must be in co-ordination with that of your colleagues and other employees of your company.

Nevertheless, when the tasks a job requires are diverse, one is often confused about what exactly one does for the organisation or what the exact field of work is. To counter this chaos and to make it to work in favour of the organisation, defining your job is vital. This is a HR focal point, which is termed as 'Job Design'. This translates into meaning that job integration could be productive for the organization, if employees are enlightened and informed about why certain tasks are integrated, and the exact importance of their tasks to the organisation. Primarily, it is important to look into what are the varied factors that influence the integration of specific tasks in your workload.

Structure: As the first step, analysing the essential structure of a job is taken up. Every job requires working on the lines of planning a task, implementing the planned framework and finally, organising the executed task. Once this is comprehended, matching the three with the ultimate requirements of your company is needed.

Ergonomics: With stress-related disorders becoming very common, organisations are looking to plan and design jobs, with special importance being given to physical conditions and limitations of workers. Therefore, designing jobs as per the physical qualities and characteristics of the workers helps develop comfort, maintenance of health and thereby better productivity.

Work output: Having the knowledge about the role your organisation plays in the market, the products and services it renders to consumers and the like, helps evolve a set pattern of work among employees, as they work towards attaining the output needed. If the content of output is known, it could motivate workers to work towards achieving that target. Similarly, the quality of the products and the final costs they would garner is to be kept in mind, while deciding how much work you need to put in, in which spheres and what would be the result. Once a set pattern is seen, it can be worked upon to chalk out the job design of different posts.

Practices: Over a period of time, there has been an evolution of particular modes of performing certain tasks. Traditional ways of working have been combined with modern psychologically and professionally tested modes of work. This again exudes a pattern of work, which when observed can help frame job designs for varied posts.

Society and environment: The social setting plays an important role in affecting the way a person perceives his job. Certain beliefs and traditional approaches can differ from place to place. Besides this, the technological settings rule the disposition of a job. It is important to consider the same, in designing the job of an employee, to create an understanding and a cooperative work setting.

How can job design help with the organization of work?

Job design principles can address problems such as:

  • work overload,
  • work underload,
  • repetitiveness,
  • limited control over work,
  • isolation,
  • shiftwork,
  • delays in filling vacant positions,
  • excessive working hours, and
  • limited understanding of the whole job process.

Job design is sometimes considered as a way to help deal with stress in the workplace.

What are features of "good" job design?

Good job design accommodates employees' mental and physical characteristics by paying attention to:

  • muscular energy such as work/rest schedules or pace of work, and
  • mental energy such as boring versus extremely difficult tasks.

Good job design:

  • allows for employee input. Employees should have the option to vary activities according to personal needs, work habits, and the circumstances in the workplace.
  • gives employees a sense of accomplishment.
  • includes training so employees know what tasks to do and how to do them properly.
  • provides good work/rest schedules.
  • allows for an adjustment period for physically demanding jobs.
  • provides feedback to the employees about their performance.
  • minimizes energy expenditure and force requirements.
  • balances static and dynamic work.

Job design is an ongoing process. The goal is to make adjustments as conditions or tasks change within the workplace.

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