In today's competitive job market, companies are looking for ways to attract and retain top talent. Job enlargement is a common tactic. This approach involves expanding an employee's job responsibilities and tasks beyond their current role, offering new challenges and opportunities for growth.
Job enlargement can have numerous benefits for both the organization and its employees. For businesses, it can lead to a more flexible and adaptable workforce, better workflow and productivity, and increased employee engagement and satisfaction. For employees, job enlargement can mean the chance to develop new skills and knowledge, take on more responsibility and leadership roles, and feel more invested in their work.
Implementing job enlargement, however, requires careful planning and execution. HR leaders must consider factors such as employee readiness and willingness, resource availability, and the impact on team dynamics.
Definition of Job Enlargement
Job enlargement is an employee development approach that involves increasing the number of tasks associated with a particular job role.
It differs from traditional job enrichment, which focuses on deepening the responsibilities of a particular job by providing additional opportunities for autonomy and decision-making. Job enlargement broadens the scope of employees' activities to include a wider variety of roles and responsibilities, allowing them to become more well-rounded in their work.
By expanding the scope of their daily activities and making them more interesting, job enlargement can help reduce boredom and increase motivation. Additionally, it can give employees a greater sense of fulfillment, as they are able to see the impact of their work on a larger scale.
Job Enlargement vs. Job Enrichment
Job enlargement and job enrichment are both strategies used to increase job satisfaction and motivation — but there is a key distinction.
Job enlargement refers to increasing the number of tasks an employee performs within their existing role. In other words, it involves adding more responsibilities that are related to their current job.
On the other hand, job enrichment refers to the practice of making a job more satisfying and rewarding by increasing the level of challenge, autonomy, responsibility, and scope of tasks. It is designed to motivate employees by providing greater variety in their job, thereby increasing their sense of ownership. Job enrichment also focuses on upward development—giving employees more decision-making power and creative freedom—rather than simply expanding the number of tasks they are required to perform. By offering additional feedback and recognition for a job well done, in addition to higher levels of responsibility, job enrichment seeks to increase job satisfaction.
While job enlargement increases the quantity or diversity of tasks an employee does in a given role, job enrichment improves the quality of those tasks.
Advantages of Job Enlargement
Job enlargement allows an employee to gain more knowledge and experience while develop a greater sense of ownership in their roles. Other benefits include:
Doing the same tasks every day can leave employees bored with their job and feeling disengaged. If your employees are looking for variation in their tasks, job expansion can help satisfy them and reduce monotony.
Enabling them to switch their routine and assign more stimulating work gives them the opportunity to use their skills in a unique, creative way. By reducing monotony and encouraging growth, you can create an environment that fosters more meaningful engagement from employees.
Improved Employee Motivation
Learning new things motivates people, so an expanding professional skill set can help people stay motivated in their role. By strategically introducing additional tasks into a role, organizations can create culture or learning and development, helping employees feel a deeper connection to their work and more invested in the company.
Increased Employee Engagement
Development fuels engagement. Job enlargement, in particular, enables employees to grow while maintaining a sense of purpose within the organization. By facing challenges that stretch their abilities without overwhelming them, individuals can develop a greater sense of purpose in their work. As research from Gallup shows, having purpose is a significant driver of employee engagement.
Examples of Job Enlargement
There are two types of job enlargement: horizontal and vertical expansion.
Horizontal expansion is increasing the scope of an employee's role by giving them more tasks within their existing skill set. For instance, let's say one of your front end web developers creates landing pages for ticket sales. If you add creating landing pages for merch sales to their responsibilities, they now have a larger job scope — but it uses the same skills as before.
Vertical expansion happens when an employee has upskilled or reskilled and they are able to take on a task they didn't previously have the skills to do. For example, say you have a marketing manager who recently finished a graphic design course. Adding graphic design projects to their workload would be a vertical enlargement of their role.
Job expansion also happens when a company assigns cross-functional tasks to an employee. For instance, if the HR department has an employee who is involved in recruitment and onboarding, they could be asked to also handle training initiatives as well. This would require them to develop new skills and expand their knowledge beyond recruitment and onboarding processes.
Best Practices for Job Enlargement
When you expand an employee's job, it’s important to consider the impact of adding new tasks on an employee's workload. It's important that any job enlargement is done in collaboration with the employee — taking into account their skill level and capacity — so you avoid burnout driven by overwhelm. There are several tactics you can deploy to keep the enlargement within a realistic scope.
Limit the Number of New Tasks
To avoid overwhelming your employees, try to limit the number of new tasks added to an employee's workload at once. While variety is the spice of life, trying to learn too many new things at once can leave employees feeling scattered instead of more capable.
Assign Tasks Related to Their Role to Avoid "Job Creep"
Job creep — which is when employers continually require an increasing amount of work from employees rover time — is different from job enlargement.
When a company assigns tasks too far outside an employee's current job and skill set, it can make them feel frustrated or incompetent, decreasing their confidence. This can result in a lack of motivation or the ability to complete these tasks properly. By limiting job enlargement tasks to those related to an employee's role, companies can better engage their workforce without stretching team members too thin.
Collect Feedback from Employees With Enlarged Jobs
By gathering employee feedback, you can evaluate if the added tasks are actually helping employees learn and develop new skills or if they are overwhelmed by their increased workload. Collecting feedback also helps identify any areas where employees may need extra support to execute their new tasks. For example, you may learn that additional training resources or more flexible working hours would make the additions more sustainable over time.
Tactics to Foster Employee Engagement
Job enlargement is a great way to increase employee engagement, as it gives employees a greater sense of ownership and control over their work. This helps employees to gain insights into different aspects of the business, thereby increasing their engagement with the company.
Employee wellness plans are another valuable tool for improving employee engagement. Providing wellbeing tools — like gym memberships and meditation app subscriptions — can help create a more positive working environment, keeping employees mentally and physically engaged in their roles.
Gympass is the workforce wellness platform trusted by more than 15,000 companies. Our flexible subscription options provide employees with the unique blend of wellness tools they need to thrive.
Speak to an employee wellbeing specialist today to discuss how Gympass can help your employees!
- Ditta, A. S., Strickland-Hughes, C. M., Cheung, C., & Wu, R. (2020, November). Exposure to information increases motivation to learn more. Learning and motivation. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7483035.
- Gallup. (n.d.). What Is Employee Engagement and How Do You Improve It?. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/285674/improve-employee-engagement-workplace.aspx.
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.