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5 Steps to Design a Job that Motivates Employees

By Adam Robinson

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 is likely that your company will face some challenges. Employees are with you to keep the business running and moving forward. 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.

1. Skill Variety

This refers to the range of abilities needed to perform a job. Employee motivation will increase if your team members are using a variety of diverse skills in their positions, rather than one set skill repeatedly.

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. 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.

3. Task Significance

The extent to which a job is important to and impacts others within and outside of the organization is known as tasks 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.

4. Autonomy

Autonomy means 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.

5. Job Feedback

This refers to the degree to which the employees work receives direct feedback on their performance. Your team needs feedback (both positive and negative) in order to remain motivated 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.

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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