Term Paper: Job Redesign

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¶ … job design and redesign for an accounting position. For an accounting position, the main responsibilities involved are related to financial reporting, accounting operations, accounts payable, payroll (payments). Usually, an accounting department consists of a general director, a supervisor, and accountants. Below the case of a media company will be considered. The accounting department consists of a director or head of department, and several clerks that manage the general ledger, accounts payable and receivable, fixed asset, and cost accounting. Each task is carried out by an accountant. For instance, the general ledger contains a page for each account in use by the company. The media company utilized all of the following accounts for the transactions made: Cash, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Notes Payable, Capital Stock, Service Revenue, Advertising Expense, Utilities Expense. All the clerks had access and the responsibility to preserve the accuracy of such documents.

The work is assigned and supervised by a senior accountant. The main tasks of the clerks are: record, review, balance, check. Special clerks have a special task of processing special functions.

The specific tasks for the job of accountant are the following (available at (www.onetonline.org):

Prepare, examine, or analyze accounting records, financial statements, or other financial reports to assess accuracy, completeness, and conformance to reporting and procedural standards.

Compute taxes owed and prepare tax returns, ensuring compliance with payment, reporting or other tax requirements.

Analyze business operations, trends, costs, revenues, financial commitments, and obligations, to project future revenues and expenses or to provide advice.

Report to management regarding the finances of establishment.

Establish tables of accounts and assign entries to proper accounts.

Develop, maintain, and analyze budgets, preparing periodic reports that compare budgeted costs to actual costs.

Develop, implement, modify, and document recordkeeping and accounting systems, making use of current computer technology.

Prepare forms and manuals for accounting and bookkeeping personnel, and direct their work activities.

Survey operations to ascertain accounting needs and to recommend, develop, or maintain solutions to business and financial problems.

Advise management about issues such as resource utilization, tax strategies, and the assumptions underlying budget forecasts.

Usually, job design must take into account the following factors (Armstrong, M., 2006):

The process of intrinsic motivation,

The characteristics of task structure,

Te motivating characteristics of jobs,

The significance of the job characteristics model,

Providing intrinsic motivation.

The case of accounting jobs is characterized by a strong tendency to routine operations. Such jobs do not provide much variety, and much sense of independence. Moreover, feedback is missing very often. Accounting does not provide the job holder with the opportunity for independent thought or action or with a great variety at work. The tasks mentioned above are usually divided among the clerks in an accounting department; therefore they do not have the chance of doing the job from the beginning to the end.

A complete integrated job has three elements: planning (deciding the course of action, timing and resources), executing (carrying out the plan), and controlling (monitoring performance). A completely integrated job includes all three elements for each of the tasks involved (Armstrong, M, 2006). The accountant in our case should be in a position to decide, after being given the objectives in terms of output, on how the work has to be done; he should assemble the resources, perform the work, and monitor output, quality and cost standards. Authority and autonomy related to goal setting increase job satisfaction and motivation on the job.

Intrinsic motivation on the job is provided by the existence of three conditions: feedback about performance, use of abilities, self-control - individuals must feel they have a high-degree of self-control over setting their own goals.

In the presented case with the four clerks that made up the accounting department, the intrinsic motivation is low, and job characteristics do not allow for self-management or sense of choice.

The company's goal set in relation to the accounting department involves reducing costs and improve cash flow with faster processing. This is a short and medium term objective that aims the company's global productivity. The specific goals of the accounting department are established annually. For instance some of the most important specific goals established by the head of department are:

To supervise the accuracy and integrity of financial reports and financial resources;

To extend and improve access to automated services (access to software);

It is obvious, therefore that the department is mainly outcome and technology oriented.

The senior accountant should establish the goals for each task assigned, but since he randomly assigns tasks, he doesn't fix objectives, either. The employees are not in the position to establish goals and make decisions with respect to their work.

It appears that the objectives are fixed only at the higher levels and they are not adapted to the concrete workflow of the department.

In order to improve the efficiency of the department, a redesign of the department's work should be ensured. First of all, the reasons of the action are the lack of individual control over one's work, the blurring borders between tasks and lack of coordination of tasks.

Typically, work redesign is aimed at providing the employees with additional responsibilities for planning, setting up and checking their own work; for making decisions about methods and procedures; for establishing their own work pace within broad limits. The most important approaches to job design have been termed to be the following (Armstrong, M., 2006):

Job rotation - employees are moved from one task to another.

Job enlargement - combining previously fragmented tasks into one job.

Self-managing teams - teams that work without job supervision.

High-performance work design - setting up working group in environments where high performance is required.

Work redesign can minimize the impact of highly repetitive and monotonous work and has positive effects on work productivity and motivation. The negative consequences for the repetitive jobs lead to distractions, the decrease of work alertness, finding excuses to take unjustified breaks etc. The most important remedy favored by job redesign has been suggested in the form of job rotation. Rotating jobs among workers has a positive impact on job motivation as well.

The most well-known theories that guide job redesign are concern activation theory (regarding routine operations), intrinsic motivation, and the job characteristics theory Hackman R, 1980).

The most influential theory of work redesign has been recognized to be the two-factor theory of satisfaction and motivation (Herzberg, 1976;&Snyderman, 1959). This theory suggests that factors intrinsic to work (called "motivators") determine work satisfaction. Among these factors are achievement, responsibility, advancement, and personal growth Dissatisfaction, on the other hand, is caused by factors extrinsic "hygienes." Examples include company policies, pay plans, working supervisory practices.

Job Characteristics Theory attempts to specify the objective characteristics for high levels of internal work motivation. Individuals will be internally motivated to perform when they experience the work as meaningful, when they feel they have personal responsibility for work outcomes, and they obtain regular and trustworthy knowledge of the results of their work. Five objective job characteristics are specified: skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, feedback from the job itself (Hackman, 1980).

In the case suggested above, job redesign could help reduce many problems and increase productivity. Task assignment and task overlapping are the main focus as well as the idea that the work of in accounting is rather routine and implies high levels of monotony.

Therefore in order to eliminate the above mentioned problems two new functions should be created, each which specific tasks: clerical support and account analyst (adapted after Slocum, J). The clerical support employees deal with the inputs of accounting work such as receive, open and introduce new data in the accounting system, and prepare all materials and hand them to the employee that handles the accounts. The account analyst reviews and codes the new accounts, records payments, solves problems, handles requirements. The supervisors are entitled to train and instruct, offer technical support, and plan, set objectives on the short- and long-term. Each employee establishes the deadlines so as to match the larger frame suggested by the supervisor and departmental policy. Each employee is responsible for his work and receives feedback as a consequence. For instance, each employee is in the position to receive feedback both from the supervisor and from their co-workers with which they interact in order to accomplish the assigned tasks. A clear delineation and attribution of responsibilities leads to a more rapid and efficient workflow.

Work redesign is based in this case on several principles, that suggest a job enrichment strategy:

1. A new delineation and combination of tasks: the sequence of actions is more complex and more actions are added. This is obvious especially for the account analyst. Instead of reviewing, checking and balancing, he is entitled to a more complex work sequence that includes supervision and decision making concerning goals and the tasks performed.

2. A new load in responsibility is given to both categories of clerks in what concerns the decisions that must be made in order to solve client-related problems. They are… [END OF PREVIEW]

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