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Job Enrichment Essay

The cost of not applying this people-oriented philosophy is that workers become unmotivated, and dissatisfied which leads to low productivity and quality and high absenteeism and turnover rates. The average turnover rate in the building service industry is more than 100 percent. This means that if you have a crew of 10, you will have to hire more than 10 new people over the course of a year just to maintain your crew. You will spend a lot of time filling in for the employees who quit, adjusting work schedules, training replacements and answering a thousand questions from people

who don’t have the authority or the knowledge to make decisions on their own.
High turnover in the industry is even more significant for another reason: It means that we aren’t doing our job well as supervisors and managers. All levels of management must know how to work with people. Compensation and the work itself are factors, but management certainly shares responsibility when a worker quits. Study after study shows that workers can be motivated to work hard if they are involved, given responsibility and recognized. Job enrichment is one way to accomplish this.

The Case For Job Enrichment
Most employees are trying to reach the economic level at which their basic needs for food, shelter, health care, job security and the like will be
fulfilled. Usually less fulfilled but equally important, are the employee’s intangible needs for knowledge, achievement and general self-satisfaction. These higher-level needs can be fulfilled only through work that is personally significant or meaningful to the employee. Meaningful work not only improves the motivation of employees and serves their human needs, but also increases their productivity and the overall effectiveness of the organization. 10

Meaningful work:
❋ Involves employees in the identification and solution of problems that affect them and the organization. ❋ Provides employees with the feeling – not the pretense – that they are personally contributing to the organization.

❋ Provides employees with the opportunity to do the work they do best.
If employees are performing meaningful work, they are highly involved in solving work problems that touch them personally and they share in the planning, organizing and controlling of what they do. With this comes increased understanding, achievement and stimulation, which combine to boost motivation and the organization’s effectiveness.

One of the most effective ways to make work more meaningful is through vertical job loading or job enrichment. It goes a long way toward ensuring that the job satisfies people’s higher level needs and that employees are motivated to greater performance. Job enrichment can reduce turnover and give supervisors more time for work that cannot be easily delegated. Taking the time to build in motivators can result in increased job satisfaction and much smoother operations for your company.

The argument for job enrichment can be summed up quite simply: If you have people on the job, use them. If you can’t use them on the job, let them go. If you can’t use them and you can’t let them go, you will have a motivation problem.

Principles Of Job Enrichment
Job enrichment is essentially a structured system of increasing employee responsibility and authority through effective, welldirected delegation.
However, it is important to remember that only responsibility and authority can be delegated; accountability cannot. With that in mind, let’s look at the five principles of job enrichment.

Principle 1: Remove controls. The first principle of job enrichment is to remove some controls while still retaining accountability. As dis-

BSCAI Services Magazine

November 2005

cussed above, the supervisor must always retain accountability but can remove or lessen some of the controls on subordinates when they are ready for it. Obviously, this can’t be done with employees who have just started on the job. If it is, they’ll be overwhelmed and confused, and the results will be disastrous— for them and for their supervisors. But it can and should be done when the employee is ready for it.

Example 3. A lead person with a particular knack for training is made an on-the-job trainer.

Example. When a cleaner has completed an initial training period, the supervisor checks on his work less often, perhaps weekly instead of nightly.

Vertical Versus Horizontal Loading

In this example, the employee has achieved a certain level of expertise. That achievement is recognized, not just with words, but also with actions. The fact that some controls are being removed demonstrates confidence in the employee. It increases the employee’s responsibility and control over his or her own work, and that improves motivation.

Principle 2: Assign a complete natural unit of work. The second principle of job enrichment is to assign employees a complete project—a complete natural unit of work—whenever possible. Doing this increases their sense of
accomplishment. They can see the results of their own work more clearly. It increases their accountability for that work and fosters pride in a job well done. Example. A cleaning team is given complete responsibility for everything within their area.

Of course, the employees must see these as positive changes, and be interested in making them. Assigning new or specialized tasks recognizes some special ability in an individual employee, and it provides an opportunity for growth and advancement.

One warning: It is important to distinguish between vertical job loading and horizontal job loading. Job enrichment involves vertical loading, or increasing the importance of the job upward. Horizontal loading merely increases the amount of work

required without providing for growth and more responsibility. Here are some examples of horizontal job loading:
❋ Rotating the assignments of a number of jobs that need to be enriched. This means general office cleaning for a while, then restrooms, then trash removal, etc.
❋ Removing the most difficult parts of the assignment in order to free the worker to accomplish more of the less challenging assignments.
❋ Challenging employees by increasing the amount of production expected. If the employee cleans 4,000 feet a night, see if he or she can clean 5,000.

Principle 3: Give employees additional authority. The third principle of job enrichment is to give employees additional authority and freedom. Whenever possible, people should be given the authority to make decisions about their own work. Example. An experienced work crew is given responsibility for inspecting their own work.

Obviously, the additional authority has to be realistic and consistent with the person’s job, and the person has to be ready for it. This is different from just piling on more work. It is giving the person some new authority and responsibility because he or she has demonstrated competence in other
areas. This gives people recognition and a sense of achievement, and that again improves their motivation.

Principle 4: Make reports directly available. The fourth principle of job enrichment is to make periodic reports available directly to employees rather than just to their supervisors.
Example. Inspection reports are given directly to the crew responsible for cleaning the area.

Again, this lets employees know that they are important. It gives them recognition, keeps them informed, and gives them direct feedback on their performance.
Principle 5: Assign new or specialized tasks. The last principle of job enrichment is to assign people new or specialized tasks, enabling them to become experts.
Example 1. A general cleaner is trained to become a floor machine operator.
Example 2. An employee is given responsibility for quality control for an entire account or series of accounts.
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These examples of horizontal job loading do nothing to make a job meaningful and should be avoided at all costs. They actually reduce the employee’s personal contribution rather than providing an opportunity for growth within the job. In confusing horizontal for vertical loading, supervisors and managers often merely enlarge a job’s meaninglessness instead of enriching it.

Developing A Job Enrichment Program Whether or not you apply these job enrichment principles depends on you and the people who work for you. While nearly everyone needs recognition and a sense of accomplishment, not all employees want more challenging work, additional responsibility, and a chance for advancement.

Some workers may be meeting their higher level needs off the job, they may have other needs entirely, or they may simply lack the ability. Other employees, though, will have the potential and desire for more. They may need to be coached because of fear or a sense of inadequacy or they may need to be prodded because of a lack of ambition.

But they should be encouraged to take advantage of opportunities, if they have the potential to better themselves and the company. For those employees who have the potential and the drive to move up, managers and supervisors have a responsibility to provide opportunities for further training and advancement. According to Steve Garcia, CBSE, of SMI Facility Services of Albuquerque, New Mexico, job enrichment begins when the employee is hired. The employee needs to feel that his or her employment is not a dead-end job. It should be explained to him or her that the goal of the company is to train, develop and promote employees.  And, notes Garcia, it is important that the company follows through with this process.

“In most cases, company training involves learning only how to clean, which is fine, in the beginning, but I think shortly thereafter it should go a step further by teaching employees how to inspect, how to interact with customers and how to train new employees.” “Imagine telling your cleaner that you will be stopping by tonight to review an inspection report he has filled out himself,” he continues,“I think you will find in most cases the facility will meet or exceed the expectations of the company and the customer. Your employee will also feel his role with the company is more than just a janitor. He will realize he plays a key role in the entire process.”

In addition, Garcia believes job enrichment allows a company to have a pool of well-qualified, loyal employees, which can move into higher positions
within the company.

Approach these jobs with the positive attitude that they can be changed even though years of tradition may have led managers and supervisors to believe that the content of the jobs is

Get Employee Input
Once the jobs are selected, the next step is direct participation by the employees whose jobs are to be enriched. Get a group of workers together to develop a list of changes that may enrich these jobs. They will be a valuable source of ideas and their participation will help ensure the success of any changes. Do not be concerned about the practicality of their suggestions at this time. Just generate a list without getting sidetracked into discussions about how they could be implemented. Once the list is complete, you and the group

should screen the list to eliminate suggestions that involve dissatisfiers rather than actual motivation. (You may want to implement changes that eliminate dissatisfiers as well, but right now your focus should be on

job motivators.) You should also screen the
list to eliminate any horizontal loading

Be sure suggestions are specific and concrete. Generalities, such as “Give us more responsibility,” are very difficult to implement
and are virtually meaningless. You want
things you can carry out and measure or observe in some way. For example:The work team will inspect their own work nightly and the supervisor will inspect weekly. This actually gives the team more responsibility but in a specific, defined way that can be implemented and observed for its effectiveness.

Use direct participation by the employees whose jobs are to be enriched. They will be a valuable source of ideas and their participation will help ensure
the success of any changes.

Implement The Program
Once the job enrichment program begins, there may initially be a drop in performance. This is because changeover to a new job or way of doing things can lead to a temporary reduction in efficiency. But don’t lose faith! If the above steps are taken and the principles of vertical job enrichment followed, your employees will be motivated to achieve the growth and self-fulfillment they need and want.

Clearly, job enrichment takes some work. It has to be built into a job. That takes some time and effort at the beginning but like good training, it will pay off with more motivated employees who are willing to work hard and capable of working independently. Ultimately that means improved motivation and job satisfaction.

Select The Right Jobs
The first step in putting job enrichment into practice is to select those jobs as candidates for job enrichment that meet the following criteria: $
Current attitudes are poor
Motivation will make a difference in performance
Changes will not be too costly

This article was excerpted from the Building Service Management Program Volume Three – Motivation And Training. The program is a multi-volume training course that covers the technical aspects of cleaning and maintaining buildings as well as the management skills required in an increasingly complex and demanding industry. For more information on the program, contact BSCAI’s Information Central at 1-800-368-3414 or visit www.bscai.org go to the on-line store and click on publications.

BSCAI Services Magazine

November 2005

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