Turnover is an issue for every facil- ity. The process of posting jobs, interviewing, checking references,
and making an offer is time consuming,
and impacts daily operations. Nothing is
more frustrating than going through this
activity, and investing additional time
with onboarding and training, only to
have the hire give notice within a few
Responsibility for thousands of cages,
precise record keeping, long hours, or
rotating schedules can negatively affect the morale of even the
best workers. While enjoying the camaraderie of coworkers
and a steady paycheck can provide some job satisfaction, a
mundane job which fails to challenge the technician can lead
to boredom, disinterest, and eventual dissatisfaction. A person
traveling down this path may leave, or worse, stay and become
a problem employee, stirring up resentment among other staff
members, or possibly becoming a workplace saboteur.
WHAT IS JOB ENRICHMENT?
One method of minimizing turnover and retaining good
employees is job enrichment. However, job enrichment as a
concept and in practice is often misunderstood or misinterpreted. It is not rewards, parties or celebrations of special events,
such as International Laboratory Animal Technician Week.
While these may signal appreciation, the effect can be short-lived.
According to the Business Dictionary, “Job enrichment
adds new sources of job satisfaction by increasing the level
of responsibility of the employee.”1 This encompasses control
over the work itself, from start to finish, with corresponding
authority for decision-making, whether it be in scheduling,
work routines, or specific projects. Job enrichment increases
the opportunities for growth and advancement, in part by
providing any necessary training to complete the work. It also
provides a level of personal control of both the worker’s time
and job responsibilities.
Allowing technicians more control over the tasks in a project tests the delegation skills of supervisors and managers. It
requires identifying clear expectations, and providing whatever
support, guidance, and feedback staff may need to complete the
assigned work. At the same time, managers must allow each
worker to structure the work in a manner most suited to their
natural working patterns.
The precepts of job enrichment dovetail with the expectations
of millennials, who will soon make up the bulk of the workforce.
Most millennials do not look at a
job as a long-term situation, but a
stepping stone. They understand
that professional development
is the key to success and also
demand autonomy to do their
best work. 2
REAL WORLD EXAMPLES
In an industry with a good deal
of restrictions, including regula-tory oversight, even some small
changes can provide benefits and increase job satisfaction. What
follows are some real-life examples of job enrichment:
• Allowing employees to set their own work hours, within
• Serving on related committees or teams within the organization. This provides a voice for the husbandry staff in compa-ny-wide decisions which may affect them.
• Serving on special project teams, such as enrichment committees, special research projects, and facility design/build-ing projects. The experience both taps existing knowledge in
the field and allows staff to grow professionally.
• Identifying individual employee strengths and tailoring job
responsibilities to make best use of them. This develops in-house subject matter experts (SME) and provides recognition
for individual technical strengths.
• Supporting professional development such as AALAS certification and attendance at local and national meetings. Some
facilities request an article or lunch and learn presentation
following meeting attendance, giving the technician public
• Encouraging staff to pursue educational opportunities outside
of the organization.
Saying thanks is also motivational, 3 and is often overlooked.
Recognition should be public, specific and personal. The practice of job enrichment, real job enrichment, engenders personal
and professional challenges and freedom in the workplace,
motivating your staff every day.
To view the references for this article, go to www.
Ann Marie Dinkel, RLATG, has over 30 years of facility and staff
management experience and serves as Adjunct Faculty at the
Delaware Technical Community College and the Drexel MLAS program. She is a consultant and trainer in Laboratory Animal Science.
Job Enrichment Concepts for Animal