Category Archives: Human Resource Issues in Operations Management

Conclusion

Conclusion

Today's managers face increased pressure to improve performance within their organizations Conclusion. This has come about for several reasons, including the growth in international com. petition and the need to excel simultaneously in a wide variety of areas. In order to produce more output with a smaller workforce, managers are now turning to their employees for ideas on how to improve worker productivity and performance. Much of the improvements in this area are the result of work teams that have been rapidly fermenting in many of the better companies. However changes in management style are required for the successful implementation of these teams, The human resource issues. in terms of how we manage our workforce and the technical issues in term of how we specifically design jobs are both critical elements in the success of a company. Many management gurus today in fact suggest that a firm's employees are the only sustainable competitive advantage. In the end it takes people to run a business. Regardless of the amount of automation  adoption of the right strategy and so forth  a company cannot function properly without highly motivated workers who have been properly'trained in both interpersonal skills and the technical aspects of their respective jobs.

Work Task Continuum

Work Task Continuum

One way of viewing the general nature of the physical requirements inherent in work is through the work task continuum shown in Exhibit 10″+. In this typology, manual tasks put stress on large muscle groups in the body and lead to overall fatigue. Motor tasks are controlled by the central nervous system and their measure of effectiveness is the speed and precision of movements. While these tasks lead to fatigue the effect is localized in the smaller muscle groups such as the fingers hands and arms and hence cannot be adequately measured by indices of general fatigue. Mental tasks involve rapid decision making based on certain types of stimuli such as blips on a radar screen or defects in a product. Here the measure of effectiveness is generally some combination of response time and the number and types of errors. As noted in Exhibit 10.4, motor tasks and mental tasks fall under the heading human engineering while the study of the physical aspects of work in general is called ergonomics (from the Greek noun for “work” and the Greek verb for “to manage”)

Physical Considerations in Job Design

Physical Considerations in Job Design

Beyond the behavioral components of  job design another aspect warrants consideration the physical components. Indeed while motivation and work-group structure strongly influence worker performance they may be of secondary importance if the job is too demanding or is otherwise improperly designed from a physical standpoint.

Job Enlargement’and Job Enrichment

Job Enlargement’and Job Enrichment

Job enlargement generally entails making adjustments to a specialized job to make it more interesting to the job holder. A job i said to be enlarged horizontally if the worker performs a greater number or variety of tasks and it is said to be enlarged vertically if the worker is involved in planning, organizing and inspecting’ his or her own work. Horizontal job enlargement is intended to counteract oversimplification and to permit the worker to perform a “whole unit of work:’ Vertical Advantages of Specialization.

To Management:
1. Rapid training of the workforce
2. Ease in recruiting new workers
3. High output due to simple and repetitive work
4. Low wages due to ease of sustainability of labor
5. Close control over workflow and workloads

To Labor:
1. Little or no education required to obtain work
2. Ease in learning job

Enlargement (traditionally termed job enrichment) attempts. to broaden the workers’ influence in the transformation process by giving them certain managerial powers over their own activities. Today, the common practice is to apply both horizontal and vertical enlargement to a given job and refer to the total approach as  job enrichment.

Behavioral Considerations in Job Design

Behavioral Considerations in Job Design

Degree of Labor Specialization Specialization of labor is a tow edged sword in job design. On one hand specialization has made possible high-speed. low-cost production and from a materialistic standpoint has greatly enhanced our standard of living. On the other hand it is well known that extreme specialization. such as that encountered on traditional assembly lines in mass production industries often has serious adverse effects on workers which in turn are often passed on to the production systems in the form of low-quality or defective work. In essence, the problem is to determine how much specialization is enough. At what point do the disadvantages outweigh the advantages (See Exhibit 10.3.) Recent research suggests that the disadvantages dominate the advantages mu h more than was thought in the past. However simply stating that for purely humanitarian reasons specialization should be avoided is risky. The reason of course is that people differ in what they want from their work and what they are willing to put into it. Some workers prefer not to make decision about their work some like to daydream on the job and others are simply not capable of performing highly complex work. Still. there is a good deal of worker frustration with the way many jobs are structured leading organizations to try different approaches to job design. Two popular contemporary approaches are job enrichment and sociotechnical systems. The philosophical objective underlying these approaches is to improve the quality of work life of the employee. and so they are often applied as central features of what is termed a quality of work life (QWL) program.