Most organizations view job redesign with a degree of fear and dread.  However, job redesign should be viewed as a regular and necessary process for every organization in response to changes in the business environment, improvements in technology, statutory requirements, and shifts in employee demographics.

The benefits of job redesign are numerous.  Companies that have successfully completed job redesign:

  • experience higher productivity;
  • have happier and more motivated staff;
  • have enhanced ability to attract and retain talents; and
  • benefit from greater knowledge retention.

Employees too, stand to gain from successful job redesign by having:

  • more interesting and value-adding jobs;
  • better opportunities for career progression;
  • enhanced earning potential; and
  • extended careers.

The following should serve as a useful guide as you embark on your own job redesign project.

1. Be clear about the objectives.  There is nothing that will jeopardize the project more than setting the wrong objectives, or being unclear about the desired outcomes.  State what the redesign is about – to improve productivity, to improve quality, to improve staff retention, to increase job satisfaction, to facilitate a growing number of elderly workers etc.  These objectives will drive how the redesign is approached, and what solutions will be developed.

2. Get stakeholder buy-in.  By its very nature, any job redesign project will have impact beyond the immediate functional area or department.  Getting the relevant stakeholders to buy-in to the project up-front will ensure that the project will proceed even though there may be set-backs or distractions.  Key stakeholders usually include the organization’s leadership team and management team, employee unions, the HR department, the finance and IT departments (for funding and IT infrastructure if necessary), and any other groups that may be impacted by the redesign.

3. Ensure staff involvement.  One of the best ways to ensure successful job redesign is to involve the affected staff right at the beginning.  The staff know best what works well and what doesn’t, and have a good sense what ideas are feasible and what aren’t.  Involving them from the onset not only puts you in-touch with the ground, but also ensures widespread acceptance during implementation.

4. Set aside resources.  Job redesign is not a paper exercise.  Unfortunately, many organizations assume that job redesign can be accomplished by a manager on a part-time basis – and then realize too late that much more is needed.  It is highly recommended that a job redesign team be formed, with clear terms of reference and resources.  Resources such as time, money, and manpower should be clearly spelled out and set aside.

5. Set realistic timelines.  If there isn’t time to do it right the first time around, there will not be enough time to make repairs later.  Set realistic timelines for the study, design, and implementation of the project, taking into account black-out dates such as the year end when many employees are on vacation, or at business peak periods when staff are busy with meeting customer demands.

6. Explore alternatives.  There is no prescribed form of job redesign.  The eventual solution will depend on the desired outcomes, the nature of the jobs being redesigned, and the people who will be affected.  Traditional approaches include job enlargement (expanding the breadth of a person’s job), job enhancement (expanding the depth of a person’s job), job rotation (doing different jobs), mechanisation and automation (introducing technology to reduce burden, perform boring repetitive tasks, and reduce errors), and improving the quality of the workplace (through better layout of the workplace, enhanced benefits, better systems and policies).

7. Review and address linkages.  Job redesign is almost never a stand-alone project.  For the project to be successful, the project team should also look at the implications and how to address them.  Examples of the more common linkages include structural changes (is there a need to change the reporting structure following job redesign?), performance review systems (how should performance appraisals be changed to take into account changes in the job scope?), and process flows (how will upstream and downstream processes be impacted by the redesigned jobs?).

8. Manage change.  It is important that organizational and individual change is closely monitored and carefully managed.  Change management is focused on ensuring that the organization and its people are ready to accept the changes that will inevitably surface when the project reaches the implentation phase. A failure to properly manage change may result in project failure as staff reject the proposed changes or are unprepared or untrained to take on new roles.  Change management ensures successful implementation by communicating the project benefits to relevant staff, by organizing training for affected staff, and by facilitating the redeployment of staff where necessary.  Additional resources on change management can be found here.

9. Measure, monitor, and adjust.  Most job redesign solutions take some time before steady-state is achieved.  It is useful to revisit the redesigned jobs periodically post-implementation to evaluate if things are progressing as they should, and make refinements where necessary.

10. Celebrate success. The celebration of success and recording of success stories builds the foundation for future changes to be made.  Experience has shown that organizations with a rich store of success stories are much more adept at managing and accepting change.  Needless to say, it is also a fitting way to recognize the many people who have worked so long and so hard on the job redesign project.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require any further information.