Two managers discuss how to redesign a role

Broaden your appeal: Redesign a job role

Redesigning a job role may be necessary to keep your employees engaged, and attract candidates in a skills-short market.

Redesigning a job role may be necessary to keep your employees engaged, and attract candidates in a skills-short market.

When to redesign a role

As a hiring manager, you’ll spend a lot of time assessing an applicant’s suitability for a role. However, in a skills-short market, you may find you’re sourcing great candidates who meet 90 per cent of the search criteria, are a culture fit and have ambition, but just don’t check every single box in the JD.

In instances like this, it may be worth redesigning a job role instead of letting the candidate slip through your fingers.

Approaches to redesigning a job role

There are three main approaches to redesign:

  • Job enlargement
  • Job enrichment
  • Job rotation

The first focuses on adding new duties to an employee’s work scope, broadening their role horizontally. The second focuses on providing more autonomy and responsibility in a vertical move. The third focuses on moving the employee to a completely different area of the business in a lateral move.

You may need to redesign a role if it is a candidate-short market

When you might redesign a role

You might need to redesign a job role before you make a hire, or instead make changes to a long-term employee’s role due to advancements in the business.

Here are some instances where redesigning a role may be necessary:

  1. Job requirements are outdated

If you’ve introduced new software into the business that has automated tasks in a job role, you will need to update an employee’s JD to reflect this. It’s also likely that automation will free up time for this employee, allowing job enlargement.

  1. Employees are no longer engaged

If employees become bored or experience burnout, you are at risk of losing them to another company. Challenges and variety to work will help to keep your employees engaged. This is especially necessary if there are a number of repetitive tasks on an employee’s job roster.

  1. Organisational goals change

The development of a new business goal may mean internal resources need to be redirected. It’s usually most appropriate for companies to use longstanding employees who understand the business and can map requirements as they explore this new goal. This is a good example of job rotation.

  1. You find a great candidate

Often, you might happen upon a superstar applicant but the skills and experience they would bring to your company are just slightly different to the requirements of the role they are applying for. Instead of losing a great candidate because they don’t check one or two boxes, it’s worth looking at redesigning the job role. An existing employee, for instance, could be offered horizontal or vertical growth by taking on job requirements that the applicant cannot complete.

There are many ways to redesign a role

The theory of job redesign

There are many ways to approach job redesign, however, there is only one long-held theory whose results were tested and deemed reliable and conclusive. This is the ‘Jobs Characteristics Theory’ (Hackman and Oldham). We’ve included a lite summary of the theory below.

The theory specifies that the employee must experience responsibility, meaningfulness and knowledge of the outcomes of their work to find motivation in their work. The creation of these three “psychological states” come from a job having all five job characteristics:

  1. Skill variety

Involving the use of different skills and talents of a person.

  1. Task identity

Completing the job from beginning to end with a visible outcome.

  1. Task significance

The felt impact the task has on other people and whether this is on other colleagues or has a wider impact.

  1. Autonomy

The degree of independence granted to complete the task and the procedure that will be used.

  1. Feedback

Whether there is clear feedback provided by the work itself or the team on how effectively the task is being completed.

The absence of job characteristics

The absence of any of these characteristics will affect the meaningfulness an employee may feel at work. The degree of complexity to a characteristic, for example, the number of skills or degree of significance, will also affect meaningfulness.

Imagine there are two jobs that are monotonous and repetitive. One is entry-level and the second is more complex requiring more skills from the employee. When comparing the two employees, it’s much more likely that the one using more of their abilities will find the job more challenging and therefore more meaningful. The first employee engaging in elementary and monotonous tasks is more likely to become bored and disengaged.

Using priorities to redesign a role

This theory can then be used as the basis for adjusting a job that isn’t working for an employee. If the employee would like more variety, consider combining a number of tasks so the types of skills required to complete the jobs will be more varied. Instead, if the employee would like more autonomy, consider loading tasks vertically. This is an example of job enrichment.


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