How to Reduce Employee Turnover with Job Enrichment
The Great Resignation has put pressure on employers to reduce employee turnover and find ways to combat disengagement. Thankfully, there are many strategies we can leverage to reduce employee turnover and strengthen employee retention. As we discussed in recent blog posts, showing gratitude, leveraging compensation and benefits, and promoting wellness are all avenues by which we can safeguard ourselves from the costly impacts of turnover.
Recently published research has delved deeply into how strategies such as these can impact employees’ likelihood to stay with their organization and found that one additional factor is critical: job variety. More than compensation, more than fairness, even more than supervisor support—many employees care most about the actual work they are performing every day.
So, how can managers add some diversity to their employees’ day-to-day tasks to help them be more engaged with their work, and subsequently, more likely to want to remain with the company? How can a manager combat boredom and convert monotonous jobs into exciting ones? The answer is through job enrichment.
Job enrichment is the process by which existing jobs are “upgraded,” through several different avenues, to make roles more exciting and complex for employees. By enriching existing positions, job variety can be inserted at the very base level of the job description. Often, managers will wait until they are looking to backfill a position to evaluate the role and make any enrichments changes. However, this may not be the most effective way to leverage this process. Instead, companies may benefit from looking at existing employees in current positions and making changes now, before staff members start looking for more fulfilling jobs at other companies.
Here are two methods to incorporate job enrichment into your workplace:
1. Combine Tasks
Rather than splitting up jobs and allowing each employee to specialize in one element of a process, we may want to consider combining tasks to allow more variety, making jobs more interesting and engaging.
Take, for example, Corning Glass Works (CGW). CGW had each element of their hotplate assembly process separated into different roles—one employee to assemble the base, one employee to input the wiring, one employee to inspect. But then, CGW redesigned their process, combining all of these tasks into several identical roles where each employee was fully assembling and inspecting each hot plate that they worked on. As a result, productivity increased by 84%, controllable rejects dropped from 23% to under 1%, and absenteeism dropped from 8% to under 1%*.
Employees want to take ownership of their work—they don’t want to be a cog in the machine. When employees are involved in more than just one tiny piece of the whole, they become more invested in the outcome of their work, they begin to see the bigger picture and, thus, they become more engaged and committed.
2. Allow Autonomy
Hand-in-hand with establishing opportunities for employees to take ownership of their work through combining tasks, we should consider ways to permit and encourage autonomy for employees.
In the most sudden and dramatic worldwide workplace shift in history, precautions of the pandemic resulted in many employees working from home, and two years later, remote work is still incredibly popular. While schedule and location are two areas where we have allowed autonomy, many did this because they had to—and because it worked well, it has continued.
So, where else can we allow autonomy? Systems and processes may be another area where autonomy could be impactful. Companies are typically hesitant to evaluate a system or process if it seems to be working well. While generally, we abide by the mantras, “don’t reinvent the wheel,” or “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” sometimes allowing employees the autonomy to develop and utilize their own processes instead of forcing them to leverage something already in place can provide job enrichment, subsequently boosting the employee’s sense of pride and ownership and possibly uncovering a better way of doing something. We must be willing to conduct experiments, carefully relinquishing control in other areas to see what works well for employees and the Company.
Affecting job variety through job enrichment provides managers with a unique opportunity to maintain some level of control over retention in a low-cost way, while simultaneously increasing employee engagement and productivity. Berger HR Solutions can help your Company assess job variety and determine ways for job enrichment.
We are expert HR advisors who provide customized employee solutions that elevate your business. If you have questions about how to engage and retain your employees, please contact us at info@bergerhrsolutions or (410) 695-9888. Berger HR Solutions is here to help.
*Reference: Cummings, T. G., Worley, C. G., & Donovan, P. (2020). Organization development and change. Cengage.
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