Unit 7 Study Guide: Work Systems Design

7a. evaluate the appropriateness of a work systems design for a given operational context to optimize performance

  • What are the key elements of job design?
  • What are some popular theoretical models of job design?
  • What are some of the techniques of job design?
  • How can a high performance work system improve performance?

Job design elements include the task, which is the work expected to be completed within a specific amount of time. Motivation encompasses the forces within individuals that influence the effort put into their work. When workers are motivated, they bring passion and excitement to their tasks. Resource allocation relates to the materials and elements that are provided to workers to enable them to complete their jobs. Proper allocation is essential in ensuring efficient production processes. Finally, a reward system describes the compensation a worker will receive and includes, pay, bonuses, raises, benefits, etc. This package should be established when the job is designed.

Frederick Taylor developed his theory of scientific management so that each job within an organization would be based on an organizing principle. These include creating a standard method for each job, selecting and hiring the right workers, and training and supporting these workers.

The Socio-Technical Systems Approach proposes that the work of individuals leads to work groups. Here, employees are actively involved in the design of the overall organization, variances in products are addressed as close to the source as possible, tasks are completed in self-contained units of work, and the design allows for a positive work environment.

In the Core Characteristics Model, motivational and performance factors are defined by skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy and job feedback. The positive expected outcomes are determined by psychological factors including meaningfulness, responsibility and knowledge of results.

In the Psychological Empowerment Theory, when workers are aware of the impact they have on the organization, they will enjoy greater benefits than if they did not have knowledge of any positive impact from their activities.

In order to enhance motivation, increase productivity and improve overall organizational and employee performance, many companies incorporate job design into their operations. This enables workers to bring a fresh perspective to their tasks and also feels greater job satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.

Job enlargement allows individuals to work at their own pace, giving them full responsibility for their output, mistakes, and strategies for accomplishing their tasks.

Job enrichment is similar to job enlargement but it also offers the worker complete autonomy.

The Human Relations School looks at businesses as social systems where psychological and emotional factors play a large role in productivity. The elements in this theory focus on the relationship between performance and good human relations, the connection between managers and their staff, a democratic managerial leadership style, and that workers are motivated by more than financial reward.

In a high-performance work system, many employees participate in the HR process and keep track of important information through online business solutions and systems. In these kinds of business environments, employees are very involved in creating, designing and implementing all workplace process and, as a result, are more engaged and perform at higher levels. Overall organizational performance improves and succession planning becomes more efficient since employees are involved in all aspects of organizational operations and activities.

To review, read Defining Job Design, Job Design, and Designing a High-Performance Work System.

 

7b. explain the principles behind using a motion study to improve process performance in service industries

  • What are the differences between time studies and motion studies?
  • What are the steps involved for conducting a time-motion study?

A time study is a continuous observation of a task, and records the time taken to complete a task. Each aspect of a job is broken down into various component parts and rearranged into the most efficient way of working. This is done by using a timekeeping device, and is applied when there are repetitive cycles of varying duration, when there is a variety of work being performed, and when process controls are part of the cycle. Winslow Taylor was a pioneer in the field of time studies, and sought to bring science and business together to solve problems in the workplace.

Motion studies, on the other hand, use technical language to explore work motions. Frank and Lillian Gilbreth pioneered this theory, and used film recordings of workers' activities to study their body posture and movement to see how work was actually done. This enabled them to formulate strategies for getting their work done more effectively, and creating standardized practices for completing various tasks.

An effective direct time study should include set goals, a clear design for the procedures, timing for data collection, and how the data will be analyzed. Once all information is collected and evaluated, a report of findings should be created. This process can be applied to any repetitive task in the manufacturing, as well as in the service, sector.

To review, read Time and Motion Study and Frederick Taylor's Scientific Management.

 

7c. analyze worker output in non-repetitive job tasks using work sampling

  • What are the four elements of the workforce scorecard?
  • How can an organization effectively implement a scorecard initiative?
  • How can the employee experience be measured?

The Workforce Scorecard identifies and measures a variety of employee factors such as behaviors, skills, and attitudes, and how this impacts overall company success. The four factors measures include: the workforce mindset and culture, workforce competencies, leadership and workforce behavior, and workforce success. In combination, these factors ensure that the organizational environment is conducive to worker productivity, that employees have the necessary skills to meet corporate goals, that leadership behaves in a way that enables the company to achieve stated objectives, and has the company achieved those goals.

In order to apply a scorecard method, a company must first identify their human capital--an organization's most important asset. Management must utilize methods that can measure the success rates of their employees including reviewing employee retention, promotions, employee training, etc. to illustrate how they add value to the company. Both lagging and leading indicators should be used to identify what has been accomplished, as well as what is forecasted for the future.

Companies that use a scorecard tend to perform better overall, and when paying close attention to the metrics associated with this process, are more likely to be identified as industry leaders.

The question of employee experience encompasses the nature of the measurement and an identification of what elements are to be measured. It is important to note that an employee experience can describe both positive and negative feelings about being at work. Even if employees are coping with poor experiences, companies should still seek to improve conditions. When it comes to being happy at work, factors that go beyond the actual jobs are relevant including internal relationships, corporate culture and atmosphere, as well as the work-life balance. Both qualitative and quantitative factors should be used for measurement, but results of outcomes are essential.

To review, read Using the HR Balanced Scorecard and How to Measure Employee Experience.

 

Unit 7 Vocabulary

This vocabulary list includes terms that might help you with the review items above and some terms you should be familiar with to be successful in completing the final exam for the course.

Try to think of the reason why each term is included.

  • Job design
  • Task
  • Motivation
  • Resource allocation
  • Scientific management
  • Job design
  • Socio-technical systems approach
  • Psychological empowerment theory
  • Core characteristics model
  • Job enlargement
  • Job enrichment
  • Human relations school
  • High performance work system
  • Time study
  • Motion study
  • Frederick Taylor
  • The Gilbreths
  • Workforce scorecard
  • Employee experience
Last modified: Wednesday, July 17, 2019, 5:57 PM