Written by: Renée LeMoine
Photo by: V&V
“Our company has been working on improving productivity through enhanced team processes. We are also looking at other alternatives, such as improving the screening procedure to better match the employee to the position.
Your approach is correct. In fact, you may consider taking it a step further and re-designing some positions to improve productivity. There is extensive research supporting the view that most people have common preferences in job characteristics. Therefore, we can draw the conclusion that a high correlation will exist between your ability to integrate these characteristics into a job, and the probability that productivity will improve as a result of employee satisfaction. According to one work design study conducted by J.R. Hackman*, there are four types of job design improvements that are more likely to lead to increasing productivity.
- Institute direct relationships between the client and the employee. Production staff often knows the product better than the sales staff, so while they may not possess the finesse of the sales team, it will make it more interesting and diverse to allow the production staff to receive customer feedback on their performance.
- Enlarge jobs vertically. Vertical expansion gives employees responsibility that was formerly held by management. By doing so, the gap between “doing” and “controlling” is narrowed, increasing employees’ autonomy. Implementing self-managed teams is an effective way of achieving this.
- Combine tasks by taking existing and fractionalized tasks, and putting them together to form a new and larger unit of work. For example, employees who are only working on one component of the product will be much more satisfied if they can put together larger pieces of the product.
- Emphasize feedback channels. Immediate and direct feedback as the employee does the job, rather than occasionally from management, will help employees learn how well they are doing their jobs, and encourage performance improvement. Immediate feedback also alerts them to mistakes they may be making, thus helping to prevent deteriorating performance.
*J.R. Hackman, “Improving Life at Work,” 1977.
Article prepared by Renée LeMoine, Executive Director, LeMoine & Associates