Environmental elements affect all activities of HRM, and job design is no exception. The external factors that have a bearing on job design are employee abilities and availability, and social and cultural expectations.
Employee Abilities and Availability: Efficiency consideration must be balanced against the abilities and availability of the people who are to do the work. When Henry Ford made use of the assembly line, for example, he was aware that most potential workers lacked any automobile-making experience. So jobs were designed simple and required little training. Therefore, considerable thought must be given as to who will actually do the work.
Social and Cultural Expectations: There were days when getting a job was the primary consideration. The worker was prepared to work on any job and under any working conditions. Not anymore. Literacy, knowledge and awareness among workers have improved considerably, so also their expectations from jobs. Hence jobs must be designed to meet the expectations of workers.
When designing jobs for international operations, uniform designs are almost certain to neglect national and cultural differences. Hours of work, holidays, vacations, rest breaks, religious beliefs, management styles, and worker sophistication and attitudes are just some of the predictable differences that can affect the design of jobs across international borders. Failure to consider these social expectations can create dissatisfaction, low motivation, hard-to-fill job openings and a low quality of work life, especially when foreign nationals are involved in the home country or overseas.
Behavioral factors have to do with human needs and the necessity to satisfy them. Higher-level needs are more significant in this context. Individuals inspired by higher-level needs find jobs challenging and satisfying which are high on the following dimensions:
Feedback :Individuals must receive meaningful feedback about their performance, preferably by evaluating their own performance and defining the feedback. This implies that they should ideally work on a complete product or on a significant part of it.
Autonomy: Autonomy is being responsible for what one does. It is the freedom to control one’s responses to the environment. Jobs that give workers authority to make decisions will provide added responsibilities, which tend to increase the employee’s sense of recognition and self-esteem. The absence of autonomy, on the other hand, can cause employee apathy or poor performance.
Use of Abilities: The job must be perceived by individuals as requiring them to use abilities they value in order to perform the job effectively.
Variety: Lack of variety may cause boredom. Boredom, in turn, leads to fatigue and fatigue causes mistakes. By injecting variety into jobs, personnel specialists can reduce errors caused by fatigue.