Job enlargement is a job design technique that adds tasks and responsibilities to a job. Its goal is to increase job satisfaction by reducing the monotony of a job. Effective job enlargement can benefit both the company and its employees by creating a work environment which rewards and challenges workers as their responsibilities increase.
Potential Negatives of Job Enlargement
In some workplaces, employees may think of job enlargement as a way for the company to get more out of them, especially in the absence of a pay increase or in a unionized workplace. This has the potential to undermine the goal of job enlargement and may create an adversarial relationship between management and staff.
Job Enlargement Versus Job Enrichment
Job enlargement is quantitative, giving employees more to do but adding work at a comparable level of difficulty and responsibility. Job enrichment is qualitative, adding value to an employee's position through more training and resources aimed at personal and professional growth. Job enlargement often has benefits for the employee such as decreasing tedium. In contrast, job enrichment is a job design technique that strives to enhance the employee work experience through education and building more advanced skills. These investments in human resources, in turn, help the company by increasing engagement and adding to the available pool of skills and experience.
Job enlargement can be empowering for employees by increasing their ability to perform a range of tasks. The work and responsibilities added to a position through job enlargement tend to be horizontal and at a comparable skill level. With job enlargement, an employee performs a greater range of tasks which makes their job more complex and interesting. If your employee’s job is to simply fill orders in a warehouse, she may only understand this one job and may not appreciate how it affects other processes. However, if she learns to receive and manage inventory from suppliers, she will approach the work of filling orders with a greater understanding. Even if your employee’s enlarged position does not include management or decision making, her broader perspective on company operations leads to her job satisfaction and increases the productivity and efficiency of your business.
Training for Job Enlargement
Job enlargement usually adds tasks that are at the same or a comparable level of skill. Since the work is new to the employee, they may need some training. Human resource managers should plan for this learning period, which can decrease efficiency in the short term as employees get familiar with their new responsibilities. Employees may need help in understanding the big picture to make a judgment call about which skill will be most useful in a specific situation.
Devra Gartenstein founded her first food business in 1987. In 2013 she transformed her most recent venture, a farmers market concession and catering company, into a worker-owned cooperative. She does one-on-one mentoring and consulting focused on entrepreneurship and practical business skills.