This post is the second post in a series running throughout 2022 taking a deep dive into the new era work. This post is all about job design and how it links to employee satisfaction and productivity.
There’s no denying the past few years have triggered a major shift in how people view work, life and the existential crises that has accompanied living through a pandemic. Even if, like me, you live in Western Australia and have largely been unaffected by lockdowns, poor health and loss of income, there is no doubt that at some point throughout 2020 and 2021 you were given cause to pause and reflect on whether you are truely living an authentic life or not.
Effective job design has an impactful relationship on the achievement of operational objectives and goals. It drives alignment of the HR function to the business structure, process and people goals to better mitigate risks.
The purpose of a job analysis is to provide an in-depth understanding of the competencies required for success in order to select appropriate candidates. The job analysis and design process looks at the current workforce situation and future workforce needs to future proof the organisation. It looks at continuous improvement / automation, grouping of logical tasks and job families, person specifications to best match the position profile, technical skills, capability, societal expectations and influence.
Societal Expectations and Influence
Thanks to a mixture of living through a pandemic and differing personal values of Millennials and Gen Z compared to Boomers and Gen X, the lens through which we view the social construct of work has been turned on its head.
Work from home mandates from 2020 continuing into 2022 has sped up the shift in flexible work arrangements, the connectivity of teams and how job tasks are completed in a remote environment.
The balance of power has shifted to employees, according to this recent ABC Australia article work from home arrangements have increased from 8% of Australians prior to the pandemic to 40% over the past 2 years and is expected to continue at high levels until the pandemic ends. This has opened the job market up to people who may have had barriers to employment in the past such as people with disabilities and primary carers.
There is greater understanding that an employee brings their whole self to work, personal obligations don’t go away when they clock on and return when they clock out. The employee offering is now being looked at as a human deal; inclusivity is all about offering employees choice and a level of control.
The ability to work from in an environment you are physically comfortable in and a structure to suit personal commitments such as child and elder care and home schooling has led to the desire to hyper personalise the work day. Think standing desks, plant lady obsessions, playing soft music and taking breaks when they suit you and your work style best.
What was a niche philosophy of allowing teams to design their own job roles and allocation of tasks to suit individual strengths and career aspirations has grown in popularity.
It’s an understanding that one size doesn’t fit all, that the key to a happy, healthy workforce is about doing the right work, at the right amount, at the right pace and the right time, in the right location.
Does the grouping of job tasks make sense? Are your employees dying of boredom?
When allocating tasks do they complement each other or are you building hybrid roles of very different beasts?
Let me explain, and I’m being very broad here, quite often in smaller organisations there will be an employee who undertakes finance, payroll, HR and marketing tasks.
When recruiting you split the role between what is required skills wise and what is required behavioural and capability wise. Building a person specification (info which guides organisations to determine which employees are best fit for specific jobs) based on the above brief is an exercise in contradictions.
Finance people tend to be black and white, numbers focussed, introverted, problem solving is viewed strategically and focussed on cost. Good HR and Marketing people are creative, empathic and can weigh up the shades of grey to determine a win win solution to problems. Problem solving is viewed both holistically and strategically with bent towards risk minimisation, even if that may be the most expensive option.
How easy is going to be to find an employee that fits a person profile ticking all those boxes?
Jobs need to be looked at realistically and critically, maybe the answer is to have two part time employees instead of just one?, or maybe outsource some tasks? It isn’t just about what needs to be done but who is around to do it.
And of course once you have a clear picture of the knowledge, skills and abilities of the job at hand it is much easier to determine an appropriate pay level that reflects the position requirements.
Another factor of job design that greatly impacts productivity and retention is the “sexiness factor” of the job.
Think about a receptionist / switchboard operator for a large corporate. If you’ve ever sat at a switchboard with 20 incoming phone lines you will know this to be true:
a) it’s very busy and talking all day is draining
b) people are rude
c) it can be soul destroying
To provide some variety to keep employees engaged, productive and employed, the organisation may choose to invest in automation to divert incoming calls to the relevant department greatly reducing calls at the front desk. This would free up the employee to undertake a greater range of duties, aiding to break up the day and maintaining focus and attention.
This is a simple but effective example of using technology to address factors contributing to turnover in the organisation. This reduces costs, increases efficiencies and retains corporate knowledge.
We will have a lot to unpack in the coming months, so if you don’t already, follow us on our socials here and here, navigate back to our blog roll and sign up for newsletters, or, follow me on Linkedin for regular education posts just like this.
It’s time for HR to move beyond policies, practices and processes, HR’s value proposition to business is to ensure HR professionals and their practices’ produce positive outcomes for key stakeholders, employees, line managers, customers and investors.
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