05 Sep 2023

What is job enlargement?

You’re likely familiar with job enrichment, which focuses on enhancing the value of employees’ roles. But have you come across its equally captivating sibling, job enlargement?

Employee holding a magnifying glass.

For those in people operations aiming to revitalise a weary workforce, this is for you. Job enlargement is a savvy talent strategy that doesn’t dig deep into recruitment budgets. Instead, it offers a fresh spin on your existing employees’ duties, all with an eye on boosting engagement and keeping retention rates soaring.

What is job enlargement?

Job enlargement involves broadening the scope of one’s job through increasing the number of varied tasks that an employee covers. This is different from job enrichment, which typically involves adding more depth, meaning, or responsibility to a current position. In job enlargement, an employee might see a mix of tasks – both horizontal and vertical – added to their daily roster, diversifying their daily activities.

What are the pros and cons of job enlargement?

Benefits of Job Enlargement

Talent development

By handling a wider variety of tasks, employees can develop a multifaceted skill set. This diversification not only prepares them for various challenges but also equips them with a broader understanding of the organisation. Indeed, your employees benefit from mixing things up with the return of a whole new skill set.

Combatting monotony through continuous learning.

Routine can sometimes lead to stagnation. Introducing varied tasks can break the monotony, keeping employees more engaged and alert. Introducing variety can be an effective anti burnout measure, allowing your workplace to stand out, since, according to a Deloitte study, only 70% of workers feel that their employers are doing enough to alleviate burnout

Increased engagement

When employees notice a proactive shift in their roles, encompassing a wider range of responsibilities, it often resonates as a token of trust and recognition from the organisation. As they navigate through this expanded role, employees are likely to experience heightened job satisfaction. This enriched experience not only bolsters their intrinsic motivation but also reinforces their dedication to the organisation’s objectives. The ripple effect? A workforce that’s not just engaged but deeply committed, driving both individual and organisational success.

Cost efficiency

Instead of spending thousands on every new hire (really, a Gallup estimates that it can cost up to 2x the original employee’s salary to replace them), job enlargement utilises the existing workforce more effectively.

Challenges of Job Enlargement

Overburdening employees

While diversity in tasks can be refreshing, there’s a delicate balance to strike. While the idea is to diversify their role, it’s imperative not to tip the scales towards overwhelming them. In our zeal to keep things interesting, we must ensure we’re not inadvertently piling on too much, making their workload unmanageable and causing undue stress.

Training needs

Whenever you integrate new responsibilities into an employee’s role, there’s a high likelihood that these tasks may be outside their current skill set. This necessitates training sessions to get them up to speed. While training is undeniably beneficial, it’s worth noting that it can be time-consuming. Additionally, during this learning phase, there might be a temporary dip in the employee’s usual productivity levels, which needs to be accounted for.

Possible dilution of expertise

“Jack of all trades, master of none.”

While the idea behind job enlargement is to create versatile employees, there is genuine risk involved. By asking them to juggle multiple roles, their primary expertise—the very skills they were initially hired for—might not get the attention it deserves. Over time, this can lead to a dilution of their core competencies. It’s a nuanced challenge: How do you diversify an employee’s role without overshadowing their main expertise? It’s a question that demands careful consideration as you embark on job enlargement strategies..

How do you implement job enlargement effectively?

  • Assessment. Before considering job enlargement, assess the employee’s current satisfaction levels, skills, and readiness for added responsibilities.
  • Clear communication. It’s vital to clearly communicate the reasons behind the enlargement of their role and how it aligns with the company’s goals.
  • Training and support. Ensure that employees are given adequate training and resources to manage the added tasks.
  • Feedback Loop. Create a system where employees can regularly provide feedback on their expanded roles. This can help in fine-tuning responsibilities.

Job enlargement can be an effective strategy to breathe new life into roles and re-energise a weary workforce. It not only offers a fresh perspective and challenges but also fosters a learning environment. However, like all strategies, it requires thoughtful implementation and continuous monitoring. For organisations willing to invest in their employees’ growth, job enlargement can pave the way for a more versatile, engaged, and dynamic workforce.


What is job enlargement?

Job enlargement is the process of increasing the variety of tasks associated with a particular job role.

Job enlargement versus job enrichment?

Job enrichment enhances a job by adding more meaningful tasks and responsibilities, while job enlargement increases the variety of tasks, without necessarily adding depth or complexity to the role.

How does job enlargement motivate employees?

Job enlargement adds variety to roles that are sometimes monotonous, as well as allows employees to develop their skill set without the hassle of switching jobs or companies.