What is Job Design?

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss the concept of job design
Photograph of a man writing on a pile of papers

The Business Dictionary defines job design as a “work arrangement (or rearrangement) aimed at reducing or overcoming job dissatisfaction and employee alienation arising from repetitive and mechanistic tasks.”[1] The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS) elaborates on that definition, noting that job design “refers to the way that a set of tasks, or an entire job, is organized” and addresses factors such as:[2]

  • What tasks are done.
  • How the tasks are done.
  • How many tasks are done.
  • In what order the tasks are done.

The primary purpose of job design is to increase employee motivation, productivity and satisfaction. However, as CCOHS notes, there is also a safety and health component to job design. Specifically, in addition to motivation factors such as job rotation and job enrichment, job design for safety takes into account factors such as task/machine pacing and work breaks to reduce risk. Net net: CCOHS states that “a well designed job will encourage a variety of ‘good’ body positions, have reasonable strength requirements, require a reasonable amount of mental activity, and help foster feelings of achievement and self-esteem.”[3]

Practice Question

  1. "Job design." Business Dictionary. Accessed September 12, 2019.
  2. "OSH Answers Fact Sheets." Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. Accessed September 12, 2019.
  3. Ibid.