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Business LibreTexts

7.4: What Makes a Great Place to Work?

  • Page ID
    4019
  • Learning Objective

    1. Identify factors that make an organization a good place to work, including competitive compensation and benefits packages.

    Every year, the Great Places to Work Institute analyzes comments from thousands of employees and compiles a list of “The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America,” which is published in Fortune magazine. Having compiled its list for more than twenty years, the institute concludes that the defining characteristic of a great company to work for is trust between managers and employees. Employees overwhelmingly say that they want to work at a place where employees “trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do, and enjoy the people they work with” (Great Place to Work Institute, 2011). They report that they’re motivated to perform well because they’re challenged, respected, treated fairly, and appreciated. They take pride in what they do, are made to feel that they make a difference, and are given opportunities for advancement (Great Place to Work Institute, 2006). The most effective motivators, it would seem, are closely aligned with Maslow’s higher-level needs and Herzberg’s motivating factors.

    Job Redesign

    The average employee spends more than two thousand hours a year at work. If the job is tedious, unpleasant, or otherwise unfulfilling, the employee probably won’t be motivated to perform at a very high level. Many companies practice a policy of job redesign to make jobs more interesting and challenging. Common strategies include job rotation, job enlargement, and job enrichment.

    Job Rotation

    Specialization promotes efficiency because workers get very good at doing particular tasks. The drawback is the tedium of repeating the same task day in and day out. The practice of job rotation allows employees to rotate from one job to another on a systematic basis, eventually cycling back to their original tasks. A computer maker, for example, might rotate a technician into the sales department to increase the employee’s awareness of customer needs and to give the employee a broader understanding of the company’s goals and operations. A hotel might rotate an accounting clerk to the check-in desk for a few hours each day to add variety to the daily workload. Rotated employees develop new skills and gain experience that increases their value to the company, which benefits management because cross-trained employees can fill in for absentees, thus providing greater flexibility in scheduling.

    Job Enlargement

    Instead of a job in which you performed just one or two tasks, wouldn’t you prefer a job that gave you many different tasks? In theory, you’d be less bored and more highly motivated if you had a chance at job enlargement—the policy of enhancing a job by adding tasks at similar skill levels (see Figure 7.7 “Job Enlargement versus Job Enrichment”). The job of sales clerk, for example, might be expanded to include gift-wrapping and packaging items for shipment. The additional duties would add variety without entailing higher skill levels.

    Figure 7.7 Job Enlargement versus Job Enrichment

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    Job Enrichment

    As you can see from Figure 7.7 “Job Enlargement versus Job Enrichment”, merely expanding a job by adding similar tasks won’t necessarily “enrich” it by making it more challenging and rewarding. Job enrichment is the practice of adding tasks that increase both responsibility and opportunity for growth. It provides the kinds of benefits that, according to Maslow and Herzberg, contribute to job satisfaction: stimulating work, sense of personal achievement, self-esteem, recognition, and a chance to reach your potential.

    Consider, for example, the evolving role of support staff in the contemporary office. Today, employees who used to be called “secretaries” assume many duties previously in the domain of management, such as project coordination and public relations. Information technology has enriched their jobs because they can now apply such skills as word processing, desktop publishing, creating spreadsheets, and managing databases. That’s why we now hear such a term as administrative assistant instead of secretary (Kerka, 2011).