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Hackman and Oldman suggested that these characteristics should produce the following outcomes:
High intrinsic motivation, leading to high productivity High job performance (quality)
High employee satisfaction Low absenteeism Low employee turnover
Job design in practice
The practice of deliberate improvement in a job‘s characteristics can be called ’job enrichment‘ of which there are three types:job enlargement,job rotation and (with rather confusing terminology)a method known as job enrichment.
Job enlargement means allowing an employee to take on more tasks,but still at the same level. So if you were working on a car assembly line,instead of merely fitting the front wheels,you are now asked to fit the front and rear wheels and the bumpers (fenders)。The job cycle time is increased (you would spend longer on each car),there is some more variety and therefore less boredom. Note however,that all of these tasks are at the same level: basic,repetitive assembly tasks.
Job rotation moves employees round,perhaps on a daily basis,from one simple task to another. So,one day the car worker might be on wheels and bumpers,the next day the worker might be fitting the front and rear windows. The third day would be a different set of tasks. Again this introduces the employee to some additional skills (though all at the same level)reduces boredom and is perhaps beginning to give more insight into task identity:building a car.
Job enrichment is a vertical change because it gives an employee some responsibility,discretion and authority that would previously been exercised by supervisors and managers. So now the car worker might be expected to perform some quality control checks as the car is being worked on,or might be responsible for reporting production problems. Not only does this increase task significance but it adds to autonomy. Feedback can also become more comprehensive.
In 1974 the Volvo car company built a new plant at Kalmar in Sweden which was based on teams of workers responsible for entire sub-units of car assembly,such as the wiring system. Encouraged by these results,the company built a much larger plant at Uddevalle where each team was responsible for entire car construction. Employees were happy,quality was improved,but productivity was reduced because this approach took about twice as long to build a car as it would in a conventional production line. Neither factory lasted for long;the final irony was that Volvo was sold to Ford (still with its conventional production lines) in 2000.
However,the Volvo experiment in fully autonomous group working should not be seen as evidence that all forms of group working and job enrichment are undesirable. As explained below,Japanese work practices make use of these techniques.