Job Enrichment

What Is Job Enrichment?

Job enrichment is a method of motivating employees by providing them with variety in their tasks while giving them some responsibility for, and control over, their jobs. At the same time, employees gain new skills and acquire a broader perspective about how their individual work contributes to the goals of the organization.

At times, job enlargement, expanding a worker’s assignments to include additional but similar tasks, can lead to job enrichment. Whereas job enlargement Opens in new window does not really change the routine and monotonous nature of jobs, job enrichment does.

Proponents of job enrichment insist that increasing the range and variety of tasks is not sufficient by itself to improve employee motivation. Providing workers with both more tasks to do and more control over how they perform them, job enrichment gives an employee more responsibility for what s/he does. As such, job enrichment is a motivation technique that attempts to increase both the number of tasks a worker does and the control s/he has over the job.

In particular, job enrichment removes many controls from jobs, gives workers more authority, and assigns work in complete, natural units. Moreover, workers frequently are given fresh and challenging job assignments. By blending more planning and decision making into jobs, job enrichment gives work more depth and complexity.

Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene Opens in new window theory is one rationale for the use of job enrichment; that is, the added responsibility and control that job enrichment confers on employees increases their job satisfaction Opens in new window and motivation Opens in new window.

To implement job enrichment, managers remove some controls from the job, delegate more authority to employees, and structure the work in complete, natural units. These changes increase employees’ sense of responsibility. Another part of job enrichment is to continually assign new and challenging tasks, thereby increasing employees’ opportunity for growth and advancement.

AT&T, Texas Instruments, IBM, and General Foods are among the firms that have implemented the job enrichment technique. This approach, however, also has disadvantages. For example, work systems need to be analyzed before enrichment, but this seldom happens, and managers rarely ask for employee preferences when enriching jobs.

Job enrichment works best when employees seek more challenging work. Of course, not all workers respond positively to job enrichment techniques. Employees must desire personal growth and have the skills and knowledge to perform enriched jobs.

Lack of self-confidence, fear of failure, or distrust of management’s intentions are likely to lead to ineffective performance on enriched jobs. In addition, some workers do not view their jobs as routine and boring, and others even prefer routine jobs because they find them satisfying. Companies that use job may face extra expenses, such as the cost of retraining.