Motivating employees is always one of every manager’s goals. Motivated employees contribute to productivity thus directly increasing profitability for the organization. Structuring jobs and roles correctly is very important in elevating the motivation of employees.
The main stream theory on motivation in general is based on Maslow’s needs hierarchy. Maslow’s constitutes a hierarchy of needs made of: Existence, Security, Social Relations, Esteem/Reputation, Autonomy and Self Realization. Every person strives to progress in the pyramid from existence to self realization. Motivation stems from the next unattained level. Each step forward is accompanied by satisfaction and each step back with frustration.
As most employees have realized the basic need in the hierarchy as existence, security and social relations motivation stems from the attempt to attain esteem, autonomy and self realization. Hence efforts to increase motivation should concentrate on providing employees with the proper chances and tools. Job enrichment is one of the most basic tools available.
The Job Characteristics model (JCM) proposed by Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham is a very influential model of job enrichment. This model is in compliance with Maslow’s needs hierarchy and tries to constitute job characteristics which will help motivate an employee in his quest for progress.
According to JCM there are five basic dimensions to job enrichment. The presence of these dimensions makes each job a platform of need fulfillment for the employee. Here are the five basic dimensions:
1. Skill Variety – A variety of tasks which require a variety of skills (not to be mistaken with many tasks which require the same skill).
2. Task Identity – Each task as clear and definite. Task identity should allow completing tasks and creating a sense of achievement.
3. Task Significance – Each task as important in the general scheme of the organization. Each task should also have perceived importance by other members of the organization.
4. Autonomy – Employee freedom to plan and execute decisions as one sees fit.
5. Feedback – Informative input to an employee on his or her performance by management and co-workers.
Creating these dimensions in a specific job could be challenging. Here are some suggested actions according to the model:
1. Combining Tasks – Combining tasks increases task significance and skill variety. An employee which handles various tasks needs do develop and adopt new skills and improve existing ones. For example, an employee for personnel may also be in charge of forming the personnel department’s goals for next year together with other related departments.
2. Forming Natural Work Units – Each task is regarded as several work units. In order to create task identity work units should be joined for possible task completion. If we take a look at many day to day processes such as bookkeeping or assembly line jobs it is easy to see each employee is under-motivated as his task is a very small work unit out of a whole task (Build a car). The larger the bundles of work units the more motivated the employee as he gets too see the fruits of his labor, so to speak.
3. Establishing Client Relationships – Establishing client relationships greatly enhances job autonomy as many decisions are called for on an everyday basis. Many more situations present them selves and allow employees to evolve through facing them.
4. Vertical Loading – Assigning more task variety and responsibility to a job.
5. Opening Feedback Channels – Opening feedback channels enables employees to receive valued information on their performance. This is very easy to achieve through timely evaluations, occasional personal chats, co-worker evaluations and more.
A manager’s intuition should play a key role in implementing this model. Managers often delegate authority and tasks to gifted employees. In turn these employees acquire new skills and develop old ones, show greater initiative and commitment and are usually highly motivated. Analyzing jobs through-out the organization using the JCM model will be very effective in creating more motivated employees for the organization.