5 Key Steps to Enrich Your Job
Job Enrichment occurs when a job is redesigned in order to make it more challenging and/or less repetitive. Instead of moving an employee to a different job, the job itself changes.
A recent survey found that 53 percent of employees say the number one reason they love their company is interesting and challenging work. If you want your employees to love you, making their work more interesting can be the first step along that path. If you want to love your job, you can make changes yourself (with management support).
Making Your Job More Enriching
Of course, not all work is interesting. We call it “work” because it's not playing. The idea that a boss needs to turn work into a circus is laughable. But, you can still make a job more enriching without dropping the important tasks. Here are 5 ways to make your own job more enriching, which will motivate you to perform better. If you wait for your boss to enrich your job, you may be waiting for a long time.
- Identify key tasks. If your hours were suddenly cut from 40 to 20, what are the things you would do first? If you are told at 8:00 am that the regional vice president is showing up at noon to check on how things are going, what tasks do you start working on?
Thought exercises like this can help you to identify the tasks that are truly important. Sometimes the things that take up much of our time aren't the things that are the most important.
Consult with your boss as well. Ask what she sees are the key tasks. Pay special attention to the answers, because it's critical that you don't accidentally eliminate something that your boss sees as important.
- Get rid of useless tasks. How often do you go to work and do something that seems like a tremendous waste of time? Do you ever make reports that no one ever uses? File paper copies in a filing cabinet, when the same information is available electronically? These tasks aren't key to the job, but they take up a lot of time. Take a few minutes to sit down and identify what is not adding value.
Once you've identified tasks that don't add value, you will need to speak with the other stakeholders. You may be 99 percent sure that no one looks at the report you create, but if you just stop sending it, someone will be angry.
Figure out what will happen if you stop doing the tasks you've identified as unimportant. Consider the consequences before suggesting a change. Make sure you check with your boss before quitting each task.
- Think about automating. Maybe that report you do is really critical and lots of people rely on it, but it's boring as all get out to make. If that's the case, ask yourself, “Can I automate this?” Reports put together in Excel can often be automated in Microsoft Access.
Additionally, if you reorder your tasks, you may find that things function more quickly and easily with a few tweaks. For example, if you have to spend a lot of time handling paper, you can institute a one-touch rule. That is, each piece of paper only gets handled one time. You receive it, do what needs to be done, and file it away in one fell swoop. It practically eliminates the dreaded filing days.
- Figure out what will bring value to the business. While you want to enrich your job in order to make your life better, your boss will be much happier if you put the business first. Identify areas within your department or company that could use a bit more support or additional knowledge. If you've freed up some time by automating and eliminating tasks, you can propose to do something different.
Don't just jump in and start doing the new tasks (unless your boss is totally hands off), but bring them up to your manager. Point out that you've managed to free up some time and since the company could really use an additional person trained to do X or Y, you'd like to start working on that. Smart bosses will jump on the opportunity for you to do something that helps the company grow.
- Add enrichment yourself. Sometimes your boss won't be amenable to making changes to your job. If that's the case, figure out where you want to be in a year, or two years, and start working towards that.
Some of your preparation can be official, work-related activities. Asking to attend a specific meeting, for example, may not be considered “out of bounds” but will open you up to new opportunities and ideas.
If that doesn't work, try taking a class or learning a new task on your own. It may seem silly to enrich your job by doing something outside of work, but as you gain new skills and knowledge, your boss may be willing to let you make internal changes.
You can enrich just about any job. If you desire to learn and work hard, your boss will see your hard work and hopefully reward you with more interesting and engaging tasks.
Suzanne Lucas is a freelance writer who spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers.