By John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
Gallatin, TN

Can you remember a time when your own job went from challenging to ho-hum?  Your attention drifted. Maybe you started looking around.  Maybe you even joined a new employer.

Why would you let that happen to your employees?

Ironically, it’s your most valuable people who fall victim to this same vague discontent.  It shouldn’t be surprising.  By definition, they’re savvy, creative and energetic.  They need work that’s stimulating, opportunities that challenge them, and a contributing stake in the organizational action.

When they don’t find that, some of them quit.  Worse yet, some of them quit and stay.  Absenteeism and mediocre performance can be symptoms of this disease.  Energy and effort are withheld.  “What’s the point, anyway?”

Attack this problem with a serious focus on job enrichment.  Structure ways for your people to get the stimulating work, challenging opportunities and contributing stake that they want.  How do you know what that might be?  Ask them!

Do you know how important your job is to the company?

What skills do you use?  What talents do you have that you don’t use?

What about your job do you find challenging?  Rewarding?

Where would you like to take increased responsibility in your current assignments?

Anything else about your job that you’d like to change?

Though answers will vary greatly among your employees, their responses will generally reflect an interest in:

  • Greater autonomy
  • Increased feedback from clients, co-workers and you
  • Increased variety in tasks
  • Increased client contact
  • Participation in decisions about work processes before they’re cast in stone
  • New challenges and learning beyond current levels

No need to rush this process.  Make it collaborative with your employee.  Take time for creative conversation.  Plenty of job enrichment possibilities are in your control.  And don’t necessarily require big changes or big bucks.

Take employees on client sales calls.  Assign pre-visit research, if appropriate.  Engage them in a “how’d we do?” conversation, afterwards.

Rotate assignments.  Suggest the idea and let your employees propose the “who” and “how” part.  You might be surprised at how smoothly it happens.

Build in feedback.  Go beyond annual reviews to develop peer and client review opportunities.  Continual feedback allows employees to be their own quality-control agents.

Connect to the end product.  Structure employee input on decisions that impact their work such as budgeting and hiring, or organizing work and schedules.  Seeing how their work connects to the whole gives employees the ‘big picture’ that is too often missing.

Include enrichment during goal-setting.  As you work with employees on personal goals, don’t overlook the value of also focusing on enrichment-related goals.  In the process, your employees will tell you exactly what it would take to keep them.

Retention is a big enough problem.  You don’t need to risk losing your best people over something you could have fixed.  Job enrichment isn’t tricky.  But, it does require being alert to the many ways you can do it.

John Borrowman