Motivating by Enriching Jobs to Make Them More Interesting and Challenging Fred C. Lunenburg
Sam Houston State University
ABSTRACT Job enrichment is a job-design strategy for enhancing job content by building into it more motivating potential. Expanding on the work of Frederick Herzberg, Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham provide an explicit framework for enriching jobs. Based on their own work and the work of others, they developed a job characteristics model. In particular, the model specifies that enriching certain elements of jobs alters people’s psychological states in a manner that enhances their work effectiveness.
Job enrichment is directed at improving the essential nature of the work performed. The idea behind job enrichment is that motivation can be enhanced by making the job so interesting and the worker so responsible that he or she is motivated simply by performing the job. Specifically, job enrichment gives employees tasks requiring higher levels of skill and responsibility and greater control over how to perform their jobs. Job enrichment has its roots in Frederick Herzberg’s (2009) two-factor theory of motivation.
The Job Characteristics Model How can jobs be enriched? What elements of a job need to be enriched for it to produce desired outcomes? J. Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham (1980) developed a job characteristics approach to job enrichment. The model is based on the assumption that jobs can be designed not only to help workers get enjoyment from their jobs but also to help workers feel that they are doing meaningful and valuable work. Specifically, the model identifies five core job characteristics that help create three critical psychological states, leading, in turn, to several personal and work outcomes (see Figure 1).
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Core Job Characteristics
Critical Psychological States
Personal and Work Outcomes
Skill variety Task identity Task significance Autonomy
Experienced meaningfulness of the work Experienced responsibility for outcomes of the work Knowledge of the actual results of the work activities
High internal work motivation High growth satisfaction High general job satisfaction High work effectiveness
Moderators Knowledge and skill Growth-need strength Context satisfaction
Figure 1. Job enrichment model.
Components of the Model The five core job characteristics are skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and job feedback. Let’s examine each one of these more closely. Skill variety. Skill variety is the degree to which a job requires a variety of different activities and involves the use of a number of different skills and talents of the employee. Jobs that are high in skill variety are seen by employees as: more challenging because of the range of skills involved; relieve monotony that results from repetitive activity; and gives employees a greater sense of competence. For example, an administrative assistant with high skill variety may have to perform many different tasks (e.g., schedule meetings, make airline and hotel reservations, do research, prepare written reports, and meet with customers). Task identity. Task identity is the degree to which a job requires completion of a “whole” and identifiable piece of work—that is, doing a job from beginning to end with a visible outcome. When employees work on a small part of the whole, they are unable to
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identify any finished product with their efforts. They cannot feel any sense of completion or responsibility for the whole product. However, when tasks are broadened to produce a whole product or an identifiable part...