As Singapore advances into its Bicentennial in 2019, three words have been discussed in an ever-increasing frequency: Disruption, Digitalisation and Demographics.
With 59% of companies in Singapore planning to invest more in automation this year, AI and automation continue to transform the competitive landscape and reshape how work gets done, according to Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends Report.
As excited as we are for the opportunity this presents, are we prepared and have we fully explored the technology for sustainable productivity enhancement?
Now, let’s talk about job redesign and how this fits in with this transformation.
In about five years, there will be fewer locals entering the Singapore workforce and more exiting. In 2012, for every one local exiting the workforce, there were two locals entering. In 2030, for every one local exiting the workforce, there will only be 0.7 entering. Singapore will also have a higher number of Silvers than Japan has today. This means that jobs need to be reconsidered and redesigned so that employees are confident and capable in their job and throughout their career.
What is Job Redesign?
Job redesign is the process of rearranging tasks and responsibilities to better align roles with the changing environment inside and outside the organization. Let’s start with the last part of the definition. Due to changing environments both inside and outside organisations, job roles change. Today’s world has never been more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (also referred to as VUCA). Inside the organisation, digitisation and automation also impact job roles.
The second part of the definition is about the rearrangement of tasks and responsibilities. Most of the time, jobs don’t get automated 100%. Rather, certain tasks get automated. This means that over time, a junior accountant, for instance, doesn’t have to manually check receipts anymore. This can now be done automatically, using an algorithm, changing the role of a junior accountant into more of an advisor kind of position.
In line with this, HR administration is nowadays often digitised and in the hands of employees and managers through self-service tools. This reduces the administrative tasks for people like HR advisors, opening up their schedule to focus on value-adding analysis and strategic advice. Similarly, HR reporting is increasingly automated with integrated, self-service dashboards. This enables the data analyst to focus more of their time on more advanced, value-adding reports.
The Job Redesign Process
When it comes to ‘job redesigning’, there is a commonly used five-step approach. This structured job redesign approach will help you navigate through each of these phases.
1) Changing Reality
The first phase of job redesigning is a changing reality.
Job redesign becomes relevant when there is a suspicion that job requirements have changed and need to be updated. This can be because tasks are automated and need to be replaced, or because tasks require new skills.
There could also be an organisational incentive for job redesign. When a consulting firm wants to focus their future service offering on giving advice, or when a brick and mortar chain wants to invest in online capabilities, they require different people in sometimes existing roles. This is also where job redesign comes in. Usually, the changing reality triggers something in the organisation that leads to the request for job redesign.
For example, a request to look into the digital skills of admin staff may come from a direct manager, while an update of the company’s core values will originate from the C-suite. Depending on the request, your analysis and your stakeholder management will be different.
The goal of the first phase is to identify the changing need and selection of a number of jobs or job categories that are most impacted by this change and therefore should be analysed for redesigning.
2) Individual job analysis
In the second job redesigning phase, the selected jobs are analysed. There are different methods to do this, including the functional job analysis, the task inventory, the job element method, narrative task or function descriptions, or the critical incident technique.
- Functional Job Analysis: the data, people skills, and things required to do the work are recorded
- Task inventory: tasks are identified and for each task, the importance, time spent, and frequency are recorded.
- Job Element Method: characteristics of excellent performers are identified to give a more worker-oriented view
- Narrative task/function descriptions: require interviews with the goal of creating a story that explains the key activities
- Critical incident technique: zooms in on outstanding performance (either in a good or bad way) and evaluates the context, behaviours, and consequences of those behaviours
Describing all techniques in detail would go beyond the scope of today’s blog post. However, they all boil down to three elements. First, they analyse what tasks are being done now. Second, they rate how important these tasks are. And third, they inquire about the skills required to do the work properly.
3) Core competency analysis
Depending on the scope of the job redesigning project, there may also be a change on the organisational level. Many organisations work with clearly defined competencies that apply to everyone in the organisation. These are called core competencies as they are not function-specific. These competencies are required for everyone in the organisation – not at the same level but everyone needs at least a basic proficiency in these.
Changing or updating these company-level competencies means that all functions will be affected. This level of analysis is therefore key in job redesigning.
4) Job redefining
In phase four, all the input of the previous phases is used as input to redefine the job. This can be a minor redesign, or the job can be combined with others, effectively disappearing. Depending on the impact and degree to which the job has changed, different stakeholders will be involved. The key stakeholders should be managed from the get-go but in this phase, you can once again get back to them and check if they agree with your findings. Oftentimes they are better able to put things into perspective as they understand the nuances of their own day-to-day reality better than you.
There is also the employees. Most existing jobs are already occupied by an employee with a unique skill set. Fitting the employee with the job will create a person-job fit which leads to more satisfaction.
Once confirmed, changes to jobs and roles are often codified in the company’s competency framework. Different jobs will be affected differently, but changes will have to be communicated. This is where the last stage comes in, that of the job redesign implementation.
5) Redesign implementation
The final phase is the implementation phase. Here, the work that has been done on the redesign will be officially communicated to different employees, and action will be taken.
Job redesigning efforts may result in learning and development programs that reskill people in the newly required skills. It may also change the criteria based on which people are hired, promoted, compensated and fired. This means that it may also result in people leaving the company. This can be voluntary when people don’t see themselves fit in the new roles, or involuntary when the company does not believe that a person has the ability to be successful in the new role.
A crucial part of this phase is communication. Changes that will impact many people, like updated core values, or the redesign of key job roles, will have to be communicated early and clearly, with ample opportunity for people to get involved and develop themselves towards the new reality. People need to understand the need for change, preferably be involved, and be motivated to go along with it.
The world changes and jobs are changing along with it. Job redesign is one of the tools in the organisational development toolkit. When applied well, it can help to create a job that aligns with the needs of the business and the external environment, while also fitting with the skills and capabilities of the employee.
To find out more about job redesigning, do take a look at these courses: