What is job enrichment?

Job enrichment is a motivational strategy that focuses on making the work people do more rewarding and satisfying. More specifically, job enrichment gives greater scope for personal achievement, more challenging work, more responsibility, and the opportunity for personal growth and development.

We all want to feel good about the work we’re doing, yet only 15% of people feel engaged with their work. This is where job enrichment plays a vital role, leading to happier, more motivated team members.

Examples of job enrichment

People like to feel challenged, accepted, and valued. HR managers need to adopt the right job enrichment strategies to facilitate this on an ongoing basis, so they can nurture workplace engagement.

So, where to start? Helpfully, these strategies fall into four main categories and techniques: 

  • Increasing the level of difficulty and responsibility of a role. This could involve giving a team member more autonomy or control over their day-to-day tasks, for example.
  • Adding new tasks that require new skills. This will help make the role more interesting and add to the team member’s professional and personal development.
  • Making team members part of the decision-making process. This should be related to their job or department and can help people feel more valued and invested in their work.
  • Offering training opportunities to propel career development. So people can build on their existing skillset and stop stagnation from creeping in.

What’s the difference between job enrichment and job enlargement?

Job enrichment and job enlargement are terms that often get confused. We know that job enrichment is about making a job more interesting, challenging, and rewarding—and much of this involves adding more meaningful tasks into the mix.

However, job enlargement involves ramping up the breadth of a job and adding more tasks of a similar level of difficulty or skill. It’s thought of as vertical job expansion, where adding responsibilities within a skillset reduces boredom but doesn’t necessarily increase motivation.

In essence, both strategies aim to increase job satisfaction, but job enrichment does it by making a job more complex and rewarding, while job enlargement simply makes a job more varied.

What are the benefits of job enrichment?

Here are the benefits of job enrichment that will improve the employee experience:

  • Greater job satisfaction

When tasks are more complex and meaningful, job enrichment makes the job more satisfying—and you get happier team members and a more positive working environment as a result.

  • Success with retaining talent

Satisfaction in a job means your top talent will be less likely to leave. This can reduce the costs that are linked with high turnover rates, and also means that the business keeps moving forward with top talent at the helm.

  • Reduced absenteeism

Absenteeism costs U.S. employers $3,600 per hourly employee per year. It makes sense that when team members feel engaged they will be more present, more motivated, and turn up ready to do their best work.

  • Succession planning and career pathing

Challenging people means you can see their true potential and capabilities emerge. As you know, it’s far more cost-effective to recruit from within your company—and job enrichment is an easy way to sense-check who would be a great fit for higher-level roles in the future.

  • Empowerment leads to productivity

When people feel empowered, productivity starts to soar. Empowerment helps to build self-esteem, which springs from autonomy, trust, and responsibility.

What are the challenges with job enrichment?

Job enrichment comes with many benefits, but—like everything—it comes with potential challenges:

  • A misalignment of skillsets. It’s important that new tasks and responsibilities are in line with a team member’s career goals. Loading on complex tasks that aren’t of interest, or simply aren’t within a person’s skillset can actually lead to dissatisfaction.
  • Increased workload. When not managed properly, job enrichment can cause an overload of tasks that could result in burnout. It’s key that employees are given the resources and support to handle the increased responsibility.
  • A need for training and support. Taking on new skills and complex tasks may mean a team member needs extra training and ongoing support. This will need careful foresight to watch over budget and resource management to make sure training costs don’t spiral.

How can HR tech help with job enrichment?

HR tech can be an ally on the road to job enrichment. It can help identify the strengths and abilities of employees, making it easier to match them with tasks and roles that are challenging and satisfying. In turn, this can also support succession planning and career pathing by identifying the people who are ready for a role shift.

An HR platform that gives space for feedback and recognition is a key part of job enrichment, especially as people are reaching for new skillsets and taking on challenges. Giving kudos to colleagues can be a great way to motivate and make people feel good about their work.

Alongside this, HR platforms can offer a feedback feature such as an employee satisfaction survey. This lets you monitor how well job enrichment is working—and what needs to change.