Are You Providing Good Jobs?
Larger organisations may want to seek more detailed information about what their workers in various departments think about their jobs.
This can usually be accomplished by guided questioning between the line manager and individual workers and groups of workers on a regular basis during one-to-one performance reviews, team meetings and more informal meetings.
Positively framed questions are best. Use these to determine whether jobs are as good, satisfying, and comfortable as they can be. The main areas to consider are:
Physical Aspects of the Job Affecting Groups of Workers
Physical conditions (e.g. heat, temperature, light, noise, etc)
Psychosocial Aspects of the Job Affecting Groups of Workers
Support/resources provided the line manager
Considerate/supportive line manager
Job resources – job control, skill development & use, variety in tasks, role and clarity about the future, co-worker support & behaviour, career and development.
Opportunities for social contact
Reasonable job demands
Physical security and safety
Lack of role conflict
Organisational support for line managers
Group perceptions of kit suitability
Relationships (including co-worker support)
Questions to Ask
Q1. What are work demands and conditions like?
Good jobs are 'balanced' with work that is challenging and motivating, but not too difficult or too easy. This means there should be enough work to stop people feeling bored, but the pace of work should not be so fast that people cannot work to an adequate or safe standard in normal working hours. The physical environment at work is safe and as agreeable as possible.
Jobs that are not so 'good' are those where the work is either too difficult or too easy; without enough to do to sustain motivation and attention; or, with so much to do that it is not really possible to finish things to a good and/or safe standard in normal hours or working hours may need to become excessively long (and possibly interfere with family life). The physical environment may be uncomfortable and there might be obvious and unmanaged threats to safety.
Q2. Are there opportunities and support to use and develop skills?
Good jobs provide support and opportunities to develop skills. This means people feel supported by work colleagues when they have problems, and the team swaps advice on how to tackle difficult work problems. People feel they are treated fairly, and are clear on their job responsibilities. In addition workers are able to make decisions relevant to their work, and appropriate to their levels of skill; and, have opportunities to practice a variety of skills relevant to the work and develop these skills further. This can be through training, but also through on-the-job learning. People should have some idea of how their work and development will pan out over a foreseeable time
Jobs that are not so 'good' are those that offer few or no opportunities to take decisions relevant to workers’ tasks and levels of skills. There is little support from co-workers and people feel unfairly treated. There is little or no opportunity to use and develop a range of skills, and workers will not be clear on their responsibilities or what the future holds.
Q3. What do those I manage think I am like as a line manager?
For good jobs, managers need to communicate regularly and well with workers, and offer support when it is wanted. Offering support does not always mean ‘a shoulder to cry on’. It can be a lot more concrete than that – such as offering advice on how to complete tricky work tasks, or finding out about skills development opportunities.
Q4. Can people cope when problems occur?
Problems inevitably occur at work, e.g. difficult customers, equipment breaking, or conflicts with other work teams. For good jobs, workers need to be able to cope with problems when they occur. This can mean having the skills and ability to take decisions to solve problems in a timely manner, and to have support from others to help solve problems in a timely manner. It can also mean things like having the opportunity to take breaks from particularly demanding problems or work within the working day in order to ‘recharge’ batteries and look at problems anew.
Q5. Is work interesting for people?
Good jobs are sufficiently interesting and motivating to the people doing them. Different people have different things that motivate and interest them. For example, some people are interested in helping customers, whereas others like solving technical problems. Good jobs allow people to pursue these interests, provided they are reasonable and consistent with work unit or organisational goals.
Q6. Can workers help themselves to make their work more comfortable and agreeable?
We are all unique in some way or other, although we may have similarities too. This extends to our ability to solve problems and the way we each experience our work. One way to take these differences into account, is to support work groups and individuals make their own work more comfortable and agreeable. People will need the skills, support and opportunities to do so, and will also have to negotiate with others, so that any changes to work do not compromise the work of others, the work unit or organisational goals.