How to use job specification to boost employee productivity

The key to creating jobs that have high job satisfaction and motivate employees is striking a balance between specialization and flexibility. As working environments transitioned from single production cottage industries to standardized mass production, repetitive tasks requiring very little involvement became a symbol of the unsatisfied employee. By creating more dynamic roles that incorporate elements of specialization but with enough flexibility to make jobs interesting. Let’s start by looking more closely at specialization and flexibility.

Specialization:  One worker performs one specific task or narrow group of tasks as part of a large production system. In general, a specialized working environment promotes:


  • A quicker learning curve due to repletion and simplicity
  • Faster production due to increased efficiencies
  • Reduced labour costs due to lower wages and faster production

Flexibility: One worker performs several tasks in the same production process or they may rotate, performing different tasks at different times. In general, a flexible working environment tends to promote:

  • A happier, more dedicated workforce, due to reduced tedium
  • A more educated workforce with the ability to multi-task when necessary
  • Reduced hiring and training expenses due to lower turnover rates
  • Reduced overtime expenses due to more flexible working schedules

Specialization and flexibility are two ends of a continuum

If your employees find the work in your production process to be excessively tedious and repetitive, you may be able to improve the situation with one or more of the following techniques:

1.  Job Rotation

Consider rotating employees through different production jobs on a predetermined schedule. It gives employees the opportunity to expand their skill set.

2.  Job Enlargement

This is the horizontal expansion of the number of different tasks performed by each worker, for example, a factory worker, who previously was just installing the upholstery, may get the opportunity to assemble the entire chair. The additional activities may alleviate boredom and encourage employees to expand their skills.

3 Job Enrichment. 

This is the vertical expansion of a job by involving workers in various aspects of the production process, specialized workers preforming specialized tasks, for example, a salesperson may be given approval to offer discounts on certain products, without first seeking approval from the sales manager. This technique requires more authority on the part of the employee and more trust from the employer because they are part of the entire process more directly.

Job satisfaction has a major impact on employee productivity

When people are inspired by the work they do they will work to complete tasks with more energy and ingenuity. Increasing job satisfaction comes hand in hand with a strong company culture, one where the right working relationships, conflict resolution and team work come into play.


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