5 Steps to Design a Job That Motivates Employees

Supporting a work environment that motivates employees is one of the most important things within any business.

If you don’t have motivated employees to put forth the effort required to do well, it’s likely that your company will face some challenges. Employees are with you to keep your business running and moving forward, but if you don’t encourage employee motivation, the business is likely to remain stagnant — or worse: begin to decline. However, you can work to combat these 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 tasks 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. Including these characteristics in your jobs affects the following work-related outcomes — motivation, satisfaction, performance, absenteeism, and turnover.

Let’s dive deeper into each of these characteristics to help you design a truly motivational job.

1. Skill variety

This refers to the range of abilities needed to perform a job. Monotony is not what many people look for in their dream job; conversely, employees want to be able to enlist various skills throughout their employment so as to not get bored. Employee motivation will increase if your team members are using a variety of diverse skills in their positions, rather than one set skill repeatedly.

You can introduce more skill variety to your roles through job shadowing opportunities and extended learning courses, or by encouraging cross-collaboration with other teams in your organization. 

2. Task identity

Task identity means the extent to which a job involves completing an identifiable piece of work from start to finish, with a visible outcome. Motivated employees will be more likely to complete tasks if they identify with them and have seen them through from start to finish.

And if you encourage employees to 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 employee motivation.

Many specialized jobs are low in task identity because employees are responsible for only one facet of a larger project. In this case, make sure that their piece of the larger project has a beginning and end that they can measure completion against.

3. Task significance

The extent to which a job is important to and impacts others within and outside of the organization is known as task significance. When employees feel that their work is significant to their organization, they are motivated to do well and this will lead to increased employee productivity. If they feel that their work is going unnoticed, or isn’t affecting anyone, this will cause employee engagement to take a hit and your team will be less motivated to complete tasks. In fact, 79% of employees who quit their jobs claim that a lack of appreciation was a major reason for leaving.

Every employee is essential to your operations, so each role should be given proper recognition. At Hireology, we hold weekly all-company meetings to clue in every single team member on business performance. We also announce employee-submitted shoutouts to ensure each of our team members feels recognized and appreciated. 

4. Autonomy

Autonomy measures each employee’s level of freedom and ability to schedule tasks. 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. A certain level of autonomy can lead to an improved employee experience and, as a result, a boost in productivity.

When an employee’s success depends on their own capabilities and drive, they feel a greater sense of responsibility for their efforts. You can give any role more autonomy by encouraging employee independence and personal responsibility for projects and their day-to-day activities. If you traditionally run a tight ship, it may seem difficult to hand off responsibility, but it will make your team more motivated and productive.

5. Job feedback

This refers to the degree to which an employee receives direct feedback on their performance. Your team needs feedback in order to motivate employees long-term. Managers need to provide feedback on performance throughout each employee’s tenure, and not just at an annual or biannual performance review.

Recurring one-on-one meetings between employees and their managers will create a consistent avenue for communication, including feedback on projects and performance.   

All in all, employee motivation comes from many areas. While employees need to have some intrinsic — or internal — motivation to complete the tasks assigned to them, 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.


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