Do you automatically recruit like-for-like when an employee leaves your business? Have you had the same job roles with the same job descriptions for ages? That can be perfectly fine, but taking a more progressive approach to how you organise the various different tasks and responsibilities you need to happen in your business can be worth taking a look at.
In HR language this is “job design”, but it’s really just thinking about the best way to get everything done you need doing- which tasks and responsibilities go in which job, and how they all interact with and relate to each other. There has been lots of theory written about job design, but broadly the consensus is that the more variety and autonomy a person has in their role, the more fulfilled they will be and the better they will perform.
Something else that frequently comes up in surveys is that people feel underused, and as though their skills and knowledge aren’t being made the most of, so designing jobs to reduce that feeling is a good idea where you can.
Being flexible and creative about job design can actually be very achievable in a small business. Although normal practice would be to design the job and then recruit the best people to fill those jobs, something you can consider if you’re looking at roles outside a recruitment process is taking into account the people you have, and the individual strengths, skills and experience they have.
This might result in someone’s job being slightly unconventional in content, but if it means they feel stretched, fulfilled, interested, and their skills are being made the most of – why not? You might have an administrator who is also really good at something very technical or creative, or a sales person who is also an IT geek and can take responsibility for day to day IT support.
Where you have very manual jobs, it might seem easier to keep people on a narrow range of tasks, simply doing the same thing over and over, on the basis it reduces how much training is needed and people should get really efficient at the thing they do. But a high degree of repetitiveness and little variety can reduce performance, not increase it, as people get bored and demotivated easily.
Training people in lots of different tasks and making sure they have the opportunity to do all of them can make a big difference. You can rotate jobs, so that one week someone is making widgets, the following week they are testing them, or you can move people around more frequently, such as daily or during the day. Or you could give people ownership of a larger part of whatever your business does, so that they see progress and involvement in more of the organisation’s goals. Either of these will involve someone developing a wider range of skills, and, as well as increasing their interest in their job, it also make cover much easier in the event of holidays and other absences.
Giving teams the freedom to decide for themselves how to organise the work they need to complete is also a progressive option. The process of deciding encourages collaboration, creativity and compromise, and having had an input themselves means your team members will feel more involved and more invested in the system working, so will work harder.
Have an open mind, when you’re recruiting, and actually on an ongoing basis. Take time to consider whether tasks need doing at all, and whether a traditional, expected job is really the best, most efficient and most motivating and engaging way of delivering those tasks. Seek input from those who work with you, who know what needs to be done and may have views about improvements, and incorporate flexibility and autonomy into jobs where possible.
If you’d like some advice on progressive approaches to organising job roles, do get in touch.