Topic 6: Work organisation: the analysis and design of jobs

Job design—what you already know
Job analysis: understanding existing jobs
Trends in the nature of work
Alternative work arrangements
What does this mean for the people manager?

The aim in designing jobs is to achieve both high performance and job satisfaction. Job satisfaction is the degree to which an individual feels positively or negatively about a job. Satisfaction is usually related to effort—people who are dissatisfied are unlikely to put as much effort into their work as those who are not. Satisfaction is also a determinant of absenteeism and staff turnover rates: satisfied staff have lower absenteeism and are less likely to leave.

Doing a job requires ability, support and effort. An employee requires certain skills and knowledge in order to do a job. For complex jobs, greater levels of skills, knowledge and experience are needed and the higher the performance expected. Support covers the working environment—the tools and equipment to do the job, the environmental conditions, the advice and assistance of colleagues and management. Any job requires effort, and the more effort applied, the more is generally achieved. These three factors should be balanced.

To increase performance, a manager should examine whether an individual's current need is more training, greater support, or changes designed to increase job satisfaction.

There are different approaches to job design. The first is job simplification, which looks at the easiest way to do a task and proposes allocating similar activities to a staff member. However, this can often lead to boredom and dissatisfaction. Participative design involves the workers themselves in designing jobs to use their skills and knowledge most effectively; it usually generates increased job satisfaction. Job enrichment is a popular approach found especially in industrialised countries. It involves adapting jobs to give task variety, creating tasks which have a clear significance and provide a complete product or service, rather than part of it.

The design of jobs has become more difficult in recent times due to several factors. The first is the growth of work teams, where it is often a problem to define individual tasks and co-operative work is the norm. The second is the development of technology, which has affected many jobs and often allows a number of different ways for doing a task. The third is the growth of non-standard work arrangements, such as part-time work, teleworking, contracting, outsourcing and job sharing.

A wide range of people management tasks cannot be performed properly unless you understand the nature of existing jobs in an organisation. Carrell et al.
(2000: 103–104) identify the following areas of people management as requiring job analysis:

* Recruitment and selection: In making decisions about how to advertise jobs and who to select to fill them, it is crucial to be able to specify precisely what the jobs involve.

* Decisions about pay: In making decisions about pay it is necessary to decide what a particular job is worth.

* Job design: Job design involves combining tasks and duties to create new jobs.

* Training: In deciding what training employees need it is necessary to know what they do in their jobs.

* Performance management: Performance management—assessing employees' performance and seeking to improve it—obviously cannot be carried out without knowing what they do.

* Avoiding discrimination: This point is related chiefly to recruitment and selection, but it is sufficiently important to treat separately.

Job analysis generally involves collecting information on jobs and producing:
* job descriptions
* job specifications.

A competency approach is usually more appropriate for complex and/or knowledge-based jobs, where the individual tasks are often vague, but the areas of responsibility can be defined. iddique (2004) describes the competency-based approach: "The competency-focused approach, by contrast [to traditional job analysis methods], places greater emphasis on motivation, adaptability, similar characteristics of employees considered essential for successful job performance."

The competency-based approach to job design requires a great deal more analysis on the part of the job designer. The traditional method of listing the tasks involved in a job can be done by observation, or by discussion with the person doing the job. Identifying the competencies means a deep understanding of how the job is performed and the skills involved in various stages.

A manager has an obligation to organise his/her staff to meet organisational goals in an efficient and effective manner. The way the manager defines and adapts the jobs of the staff illustrates some crucial HR parameters. The manager should be aware of the skills and experience of the staff, so that tasks and responsibilities can be assigned to the people most capable of doing the work. A manager also needs to know what is being done in the department or group that he/she manages. All too often, the manager has little idea of what the staff actually does, and is incapable of intervening to resolve problems or improve performance. The manager also has at his/her disposal a range of working arrangements which can provide a better match between the organisational and individual needs. Finally, the manager has an ethical obligation to provide decent, satisfying work for the staff, and to allow for their human needs.


From: Management Research News, 2002, 25(3):73–81.

The main steps in the process of job analysis can be set out as follows: Identify and isolate the component tasks in a job; Examine how tasks are performed
Identify the main areas of responsibility; Note the prevailing working conditions in respect of the physical, social and financial aspects of the job; Identify the personal demands which a job makes on an individual incumbent

The most widely used method of job evaluation is the ranking system. Under this plan, a job is ranked against other jobs, without assigning point values. Evaluators simply compare two jobs and judge which is more difficult. Once this determination has been made, a third job is compared with the first two and similar decision made. The process is repeated until all jobs have been ranked, from the most difficult to the least difficult. There is a tendency to judge each job on the basis of its dominant characteristics, which can result in inconsistencies. In addition, it is extremely difficult to explain or justify the results of ranking to employees or managers, because there is no record of the judgements of evaluators.

Under the point evaluation system, various factors which measure a job are selected and defined. A separate yard-stick for different degrees of each factor is prepared. A job is then rated against every yard-stick. In essence, this is the same process as the classification system except that the job is evaluated on a separate scale for each factor. In addition, each degree of each factor has point weightings.

The final basic approach used in traditional job evaluation is the factor comparison system. In this system, factors must also be identified, as under the point system. Within each factor, a ranking system rather than a classification system is used. That is, for each factor, the evaluator ranks all jobs from highest to lowest.

In the combination system, there are five steps involved. Firstly, factors are selected and defined. These are usually the five basic factors of responsibility, authority, knowledge, skill, and working conditions. Secondly, benchmark jobs are selected and priced if they can be priced in the market, and all benchmark jobs are ranked under each factor. This includes both those which were priced in the market-place and those which were not. Ranking of market-priced jobs, however, must reflect market pay relationships. Ranking of other jobs is done primarily by comparison with jobs that have been priced. Thirdly, points are assigned to each degree of each factor on the basis of a standard system. The relative maximum weight of each factor is a function of the number of degrees established in the ranking process. Fourthly, each degree is defined. This is done in terms of the company jobs that have been ranked in each degree. Finally, all other jobs are evaluated, by comparison against degree definitions and on a job-against-job ranking system, particularly using benchmark jobs priced under each factor.