Design a Job that Motivates Employees

By Adam Robinson,
February 11, 2014

Having motivated employees is one of the most important things within any business. If your employees aren’t motivated to put forth the effort required to do well, it is pretty likely that your company will face some problems. Employees are there to keep the business running and moving forward. If they have no motivation to do so, the business is likely to remain stagnant, or worse, begin to decline. However, you can work to combat employee motivation issues by designing a job that provides ongoing motivation.

Job Design is a psychological theory of motivation that is defined as the systematic and purposeful allocation of task to groups and individuals within an organization. The five core characteristics of job design are skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and job feedback.

Skill Variety: The range of abilities needed to perform a job. People will be more motivated if they are using a variety of skills in their positions, rather than one thing repeatedly.

Task Identity: The extent to which a job involves completing an identifiable piece of work from start to finish, with a visible outcome. Employees are motivated to complete tasks if they identify with them and have seen them through from start to finish. If employees identify with a task, they are more motivated to complete it and achieve the outcome. Employees who contribute a small piece to multiple projects, but never see the outcome will identify less with their work, creating lower motivation.

Task Significance: The extent to which a job is important to and impacts others within and outside of the organization. When employees feel that their work is significant to their organization, they are motivated to do well. If they feel that their work is going unnoticed, or isn’t affecting anyone, they will be less motivated to complete tasks.

Autonomy: The level of freedom and ability to schedule tasks that the employee has. Employees like to be able to make decisions and have flexibility in their roles. Most employees will have lowered motivation if they feel they have no freedom or are being micromanaged.

Job Feedback: The degree to which the employees work receives direct feedback on their performance. Employees need feedback (both positive and negative) in order to stay motivated. Managers need to provide feedback on performance throughout and employees tenure, and not just at an annual or biannual performance review.

All in all, employee motivation comes from many areas. Though employees need to have some intrinsic motivation (internal motivation) to complete the tasks assigned to them in their roles, they also need to be motivated by their employers. By designing jobs that encompass all of the core characteristics, you can help increase employee motivation, in turn improving performance.

About the Author

Adam co-founded Hireology with the mission to help growing companies make better hiring decisions through data and better technology. Adam is passionate about entrepreneurship, donating time to a number of organizations that support the entrepreneurial cause. Adam completed his undergraduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

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