Job Enrichment, Job Enlargement – eine Gegenüberstellung

Job enrichment and job enlargement – a comparison

With change cycles getting ever shorter, many organizations are looking at how they can mold the skills and job roles of their staff more effectively to fit their objectives. Ideally, they would like to do this in the workplace so as to minimize the impact on productivity. Job enlargement and job enrichment may well offer a solution, but how do these measures work, what are their advantages and disadvantages and what do organizations need to be careful of when rolling them out?

Organizations that want to continuously adapt to new competitive scenarios have no option but to continuously realign their employees’ work with their evolving business strategy. Job enlargement and job enrichment are two ideal tools for doing just that.

The background

Job enlargement and job enrichment – along with job rotation – make up the holy trinity in the toolkit of human resources management. Each aims to motivate and enrich employees by giving them the opportunity to try out and learn new activities through on-the-job training.

The effectiveness of these measures is based, among other things, on elements and techniques of motivational psychology, such as Frederik Herzberg’s two-factor theory. Herzberg recognized that factors such as monotony-busting skill variety and the opportunity for autonomy boost intrinsic motivation. This makes staff more prepared to develop their skills and abilities and utilize their full potential in their jobs.

The distinctions

Job rotation is when workers systematically swap between jobs within a team. Its main objective is to enrich the employee experience. By contrast, job enlargement and job enrichment are designed to enrich the personal strengths and qualifications of workers in harmony with their organization’s strategy. Here is a brief definition of both these terms:

Job enlargement is when employees are given extra duties that extend their previous role. These are usually upstream or downstream activities that tie in with the employee’s current job description. Their range of activities is thus extended horizontally and specialist training is usually only required in exceptional cases.

Job enrichment also involves employees taking on new duties. However, the new responsibilities gained through job enrichment usually involve more in-depth specialist techniques and a greater degree of responsibility – staff get more scope for making decisions. As a springboard for progression to the next level in the hierarchy, job enrichment often involves training measures.

Job enlargement

Job enrichment

Extra tasks with requirements at the current hierarchy level – quantitative job expansion

Extra tasks with requirements at the next hierarchy level – qualitative job expansion

Range of activities increases

Wider range of responsibility and decision-making authority

Horizontal expansion of existing skills

Acquisition of new skills

Horizontal restructuring

Vertical restructuring

No need for additional training

Additional training necessary

When to use which tool

Job enlargement and job enrichment can be used in virtually any area of activity as a way of efficiently managing how staff work and adapting working structures to the organization’s current development. For example, they are useful tools when implementing restructuring measures, carrying out automation and digitalization projects, expanding business fields, tapping into new markets or undergoing extensive organizational growth.

Let’s look at a specific example. Imagine that a mechanical engineering company has launched a new product range. To help speed up the assembly line in production and make it more flexible, a robot is introduced to perform repetitive activities, such as gluing or screwing components together.

  • Job enlargement: A worker with excellent technical abilities is given the additional job of programming the robot. This employee is given an induction directly in the work environment and shown how to operate the robot – enlarged jobs often follow this kind of pattern.
  • Job enrichment: The new product line requires an additional shift. A team member is sent on a training course to learn about staff management. This person is appointed shift leader and tasked with supervising the other members of the team and overseeing quality control – this is job enrichment in action.

Benefits and risks

Both job enlargement and job enrichment have the advantage of motivating staff by injecting more variety into their workplace. However, each method also has its own very specific benefits – and certain disadvantages or risks.

Job enlargement – opportunities for the organization

Improving process efficiency

Organizations can make their workflows more efficient by pooling tasks in one person. This reduces the need for internal coordination and enhances agility.

Boosting flexibility

Job enlargement gives organizations more room for maneuver. Just like job rotation, it breaks up silos, generates more flexibility for deploying employees and ensures staff can support each other as necessary. As a result, the organization is better able to cope with short-term staff shortfalls.

Increasing productivity

Job enlargement can help prevent physical monotony, boredom and imbalanced strain in exactly the same way as job rotation can. It enhances job satisfaction and motivation.

Identifying talented employees

Managers can keep track of how individual employees cope with their extended remit. As a consequence, they can better judge the capabilities and potential of these employees.

Job enlargement – what to be careful of!

Overload

Taking on additional tasks cannot be allowed to mean simply piling up the workload on specific individuals. Working hours must stay the same. If a staff member’s work-life balance is skewed, the intended performance-enhancing effects of this method can tip over into stress and burn-out.

Frustration

Staff don’t see it as fair when they are given additional work without getting more time to do it or any financial compensation, particularly if they get the impression their employer simply wants to save on staffing levels. That means it’s a good idea to be very clear that any job redesign measures are about personal development and not about cutting jobs.

Opportunities

Risks

Improved performance and process efficiency

Excessive time pressures

More flexibility in personnel deployment

 

Higher levels of satisfaction

Declining motivation

Identification of potential

 

Job enrichment – opportunities for the organization

Preparing talented staff for more senior positions

By entrusting jobs with a significant amount of autonomy to carefully selected employees, an organization can very deliberately nurture those workers for the next level in the hierarchy and test out their suitability for the job. For their part, the chosen individuals gain practical insight into what is involved and can very quickly decide whether they actually want to climb to the next rung of the career ladder.

Saving outlay on recruitment

If an expansion in business activities creates a job opening, there is no need to look outside the organization for new staff – new appointments and selection processes become unnecessary. That saves time and costs.

Easing the workload of managers

If job enrichment can cover a new level in the hierarchy or if some portion of management responsibility can be transferred to employees, that frees up capacity elsewhere. Managers can delegate work and focus more closely on strategic tasks.

Promoting employer branding

A secure job and good pay are no longer enough on their own, particularly when it comes to motivating younger employees. Many skilled workers are looking for companies that offer attractive development options. Job enrichment boosts an employer’s image.

Enhancing employee engagement

Tasks that are more demanding and more interesting eliminate boredom, add variety and send out positive signals. They help to motivate staff, enhance job satisfaction and boost employees’ loyalty to the organization.

Job enrichment – what to be careful of!

Risk of overload

The additional strain of taking on more responsibility can result in staff becoming overwhelmed if they are not given targeted support and training.

False expectations

Enhanced skills and more responsibility don’t automatically translate into better pay. Employees can become frustrated if their organization is not transparent about whether and when their pay will be adjusted.

Costs of training

Job enrichment also brings additional costs. Staff need to be trained for their new tasks and gain appropriate qualifications.

Dissatisfaction

Not all employees want to climb the career ladder or take on jobs with more authority. To avoid demotivation, the organization needs to respect their views.

Opportunities

Risks

Preparation of talented staff for more senior roles

Overload

Reduced outlay on recruitment

Higher training costs

Less strain on managers

False expectations or disappointment

Increased enthusiasm

Dissatisfaction

Better employer branding

 

Implementing job enlargement and job enrichment with a clear focus

The more focused and transparent an organization can be in rolling out job enlargement and job enrichment, the more effectively its HR department will be able to get personal development in sync with the organization’s aims. There are five steps to hitting the target:

  1. Analyze the current situation: The HR department should carefully check whether job enlargement and job enrichment are feasible and, if so, which staff should be involved. For these tools to work, the new range of activities must link in to the professional and personal profile of the staff in question.
  2. Involve managers: Direct line managers can provide valuable input. They know their staff from their day-to-day work and can assess their skills, interests and motivation very accurately.
  3. Adopt a step-by-step approach: Job enlargement and job enrichment should be put into practice as learning processes that gradually introduce staff to their additional and/or more demanding tasks, otherwise there is a risk of overwhelming employees and causing resentment.
  4. Provide support through training and mentoring: Experienced colleagues should help staff work their way into their new activities. External training measures should be planned as additional measures, particularly if there is a lack of internal capacities or a gap in the necessary knowledge. Mentors provide support and advice so staff quickly feel at home in their new position.
  5. Regularly review measures: Feedback meetings between staff and their managers should clarify whether the intended objectives have been achieved or some adjustment is needed. This process should be based on continuous performance management or a software solution such as SAP SuccessFactors Performance & Goals.

Tip: Software makes the roll-out easier

Using a software package such as SAP SuccessFactors Performance & Goals is a good way of ensuring job enlargement and job enrichment can be implemented to professional standards for little outlay. This solution brings many advantages, helping the HR department and managers to break down an organization’s aims to specific and measurable goals for each individual. The software also provides an objective and transparent means of measuring the performance of individual employees. During special meetings with line managers or evaluations carried out by colleagues, staff receive the feedback they need to achieve their goals. This kind of 360-degree feedback culture creates the transparency organizations need if they are going to identify the employees who could potentially cope with taking on additional duties or a more responsible position. For their part, staff can also get more autonomy for their own performance and development.  creates the transparency organizations need if they are going to identify the employees who could potentially cope with taking on additional duties or a more responsible position. For their part, staff can also get more autonomy for their own performance and development.  creates the transparency organizations need if they are going to identify the employees who could potentially cope with taking on additional duties or a more responsible position. For their part, staff can also get more autonomy for their own performance and development.

Bringing an organization’s human resources management into harmony with its strategy

Job enlargement and job enrichment give the HR department practical staff development tools. Both measures can do so much more than just provide more variety to incentivize staff and make their work more enjoyable. When implemented correctly, they help to professionalize job design. The tasks and personal goals of employees can be rapidly adapted to any new circumstances affecting the organization, thus helping it safeguard competitiveness – and that can be done on the job, cost-effectively and without putting too much strain on ongoing operations.