How to keep employees engaged through job redesign

As a manager, you spend a lot of time in the hiring process trying to gauge whether a candidate will be a solid fit for the role. This assessment is essential. You want to ensure your new employee will be successful — and you want to avoid making a costly bad hire.

However, given how quickly business and the nature of work are changing, your determination of “candidate-job fit” at the time of hire may not hold up for long. Employees’ skill sets, interests and career goals can evolve fast. So, their roles and responsibilities need to evolve, too.

Enter job enrichment and job enlargement — two facets of the job redesign process. Through job redesign, you can keep employees engaged and feeling valued. That can help to boost their productivity and morale, as well as your company’s retention efforts.

Before we take a closer look at the differences between job enrichment and job enlargement, it’s important to break down how to keep employees engaged through a possible job redesign:

How to keep employees engaged

The future may offer a world where financial professionals and AI work together, each playing to the other’s strengths. This will require a redesign of many jobs so that human workers can move away from routine tasks to focus more on strategic projects.

Increasing employees’ ability to future-proof their careers and preparing your business for the future is a twofold advantage of job redesign. Here are three other benefits:

Helping your employees avoid boredom and burnout

Machines don’t get tired of repetitive tasks; people do. Employees need some variety in their work, with new responsibilities and learning opportunities to challenge them. Job redesign can prevent the kind of work burnout that causes people to grow frustrated and fatigued — and look for other positions.

Allowing your business to do more with less

Every manager is under pressure to increase their team’s efficiency. Sometimes, greater efficiency can be realised by redesigning jobs, so that employees can focus more on tasks that add value, and less on ones that don’t. (Again, the rise of job automation and the use of emerging technologies like AI will only increase the need to rethink the everyday responsibilities of many employees.)

Making the need to adapt to change less daunting

Occasionally, changes in the organisation’s business goals, or how the company operates, will demand that you explore redesigning jobs for some team members. Even if the change is unexpected and disruptive, the job redesign process still can be positioned as an opportunity. Employees have the chance to gain new skills, move out of their comfort zone — and shine.

Job enlargement vs. job enrichment

Now, as for the difference between job enlargement and job enrichment, here’s a quick explanation:

Job enlargement is giving additional duties to an employee. These new tasks are in line with the worker’s existing duties. Think of it as a horizontal expansion of a job.

Enrichment, meanwhile, involves adding more responsibility and autonomy to a role. This is a vertical expansion of a job, moving the employee closer towards the management tier.

How do you decide which approach is best? Here’s an example: Let’s say you manage a team of business analysts. One of your top analysts complains that she’s tired of running the same reports each month, and she’s struggling to stay motivated. In response, you could:

  • Use job enlargement to give the analyst some new responsibilities, such as preparing more complex reports or presenting data directly to executive management. These tasks add some variety to the employee’s job but are still in her wheelhouse.
  • Alternatively, you could use job enrichment to challenge the analyst a bit more. For instance, you could assign a new project that requires collaborating with the IT team on improvement projects like enhanced data collection or AI implementation. Job enrichment will allow the business analyst to develop new skills, and potentially, prepare her for a management role.

Do’s and don’ts of job redesign

While job redesign may sound straightforward, it isn’t always easy to implement. First, you need to be in tune with your employees’ interests and abilities — and know whether they are open to and ready for either job enrichment or job enlargement. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind as you consider whether to use job redesign as a strategy to keep employees engaged:

Do discuss the opportunity with employees one-to-one

Your team members probably have some ideas already about how they would like to change their roles and responsibilities. So, as a first step, talk with them one-to-one to get their input. Ask them where they might excel and how they think they could add the most value to the organisation.

Don’t fail to think about the future

When redesigning a job, consider how the position might evolve in the near term. How would technological advances or a new business direction impact the role? You may not be able to fully future-proof a position, but you can think about what might be required further down the line.

Also, avoid over-tailoring job enrichment or job enlargement opportunities. If you redesign a job to suit a specific individual, then you may face some organisational challenges if that person leaves. So, when redesigning jobs, think about how changes to a role could benefit the whole team, and not just how they might increase one person’s job satisfaction.

Do offer support and mentoring

A job redesign may require a transition period, especially if the employee is assuming new responsibilities through the job enrichment path. So, give every team member in a redesigned role the best chance of success by offering coaching, mentoring and additional training, as needed.

Backed by good planning and communication — and appropriate support — job enlargement or job enrichment can help you learn how to keep employees engaged and thus, motivated to stay with your organisation for the long term. Your workers can gain new skills and experience by either expanding their responsibilities or taking on more complex challenges. Either way, they’ll be able to add even more value to your business.