Job design, employment, and the High Road

Some people don't even know what job design is. It's the process of designing a position for efficiency and productivity. Cynics might say that most job designers don't seem to know what it is, either. But things have changed in the workplace, and the job design concepts for the modern workforce have only just gotten off the drawing board.

The old job design motif, a person in a single, fixed job, was almost totally static. In the old days, multitasking only happened if you had multiple people. Other jobs were things someone else did. Now, many people virtually operate whole offices, doing ten different tasks on their own. It really is a totally different working environment.

What's less well known is that modern job design is still trying to catch up to the realities of the modern workplace. The workplace economics aren't helping job designers much in the process. The old 'team' motif has now been at least partly replaced by outsourcing and the multi-skill demands of employers. The 'one person office' is closer to the reality of the workplace than ever.

That makes it difficult for job designers to produce realistic job descriptions. The usual job structure only lasts for a few years, before having to be redesigned to adapt to another change in business costs and methods. Employees who've found their jobs being rebuilt around them will know the story.

Driving most job design has been payroll cost looking for savings on wages. That myopic approach has been the cause of terrible job design and worse levels of productivity. Decimated workforces don't perform better or faster. The irony is that the reduction in the workforce isn't really a saving, either. What's saved in wages is lost in overtime and overstretched resources. It never worked, and it still doesn't.

The High Road

There is real hope for greatly improved job design now, thanks to the so called 'High Road' approach, which is a totally different job design paradigm. The High Road method creates highly paid, highly productive jobs, where efficiency is much higher, and profits much greater. Employees are paid much more and produce much more, cost effectively.

The High Road was developed in the US Rust Belt, the sad remains of the old industrial heartland of America. These industries were on their last legs, until the High Road idea was introduced. Manufacturers redeveloped their whole paradigm of production, relying on totally different job designs where employee productivity translated into better returns for both employers and employees. The employees on the High Road are highly trained, so they can be highly productive. Their gross annual pay is roughly equivalent to the full cost of their degrees.

The High Road uses a full production design concept, rather than a payroll cost, to design its jobs. The result is profit, and a lot of it. It's a holistic approach to a problem where the sawdust is obscuring the trees for many employers.