Job enhancement and essential skills

This tool will help employers and practitioners support the development of essential skills in the workplace through job enhancement. It explains how to increase employees' opportunities to improve their essential skills in the workplace and provides sample job enhancement activities.

What is job enhancement?

Job enhancement is when an employee is given new responsibilities or tasks that give him/her the opportunity to develop his/her skills or abilities. For example, a cashier at a grocery store could be taught how to prepare the weekly work schedule. As a result, he/she could learn about scheduling and have the opportunity to use different work-related documents (e.g. timesheets).

Why job enhancement?

Job enhancement is an effective way to help employees improve their essential skills, and it doesn't require a lot of resources to be successful. It can:

  • Better prepare employees for promotions and organizational changes
  • Help address skill shortages
  • Improve performance
  • Increase job satisfaction
  • Increase motivation and self-confidence
  • Reduce employee turnover and stress
  • Support a healthy learning culture in the workplace

Getting started

This checklist can help you determine if job enhancement is an appropriate way to support essential skills in your workplace. Indicate whether you agree or disagree with the following statements:

This table contains a checklist to help determine if job enhancement is an appropriate way to support essential skills in the workplace.
Description Agree  Disagree 
Employees lack certain essential skills that could be developed through job enhancement.    
External factors (e.g. technological changes, legal changes) have changed skill requirements in the organization.    
The organization is having difficulty recruiting skilled people.    
The organization would like to use succession planning to maintain a skilled workforce.    
Employees have indicated that they would like to take on new responsibilities and/or tasks.    
Employees have indicated that they want to explore different areas of interest or specialization.    
Employees' career advancement would be enhanced by developing their essential skills.    

If you agree with any of the above statements, you should consider whether your workplace could benefit from job enhancement strategies.

Helpful tips

  • Use team meetings, lunch hour learning sessions, company newsletters or emails to communicate how job enhancement can be used to develop essential skills.
  • Meet with employees to determine their interest in experiencing new roles and responsibilities and to discuss options.
  • If possible, identify a champion (e.g. manager, consultant) who can manage job enhancement activities in the workplace.
  • Use learning plans to help employees identify skills they would like to improve and learning opportunities they would like to take advantage of.
  • Job enhancement should not increase an employees' workload, but rather give them the opportunity to focus on improving in different areas.
  • Ensure that employees have a clear understanding of roles and expectations when taking on new tasks or responsibilities.
  • Employees engaged in new activities or tasks should be given immediate feedback by supervisors. Feedback is critical to the success of job enhancement and skills development.
  • Once employees are engaged in job enhancement activities, monitor progress made and modify the activities as required.

Job enhancement activities

The following activities are simple ways to improve essential skills through job enhancement. They are suggestions and can be tailored to meet the specific needs and goals of the employee.

This table contains job enhancement activities.
 Essential skill An employee or group of employees may:
Reading • read applicant resumés and recommend potential candidates
• research and recommend new office software by reading consumer reports and trade journals
Document Use • educate co-workers about various safety labels in the workplace
• review a monthly sales chart and brief co-workers on the results
Writing • develop a monthly newsletter for clients or co-workers
• prepare weekly memos to all employees
Numeracy • manage the petty cash account
• complete the year-end budget for the unit
Oral communication • take turns leading monthly staff meetings
• respond to telephone requests for information or assistance
Thinking • supervise a summer student for one week by assigning tasks and providing feedback to the student
• brainstorm and present ideas for improving a company policy
Working with others • become mentors or mentees
(see Mentoring and Essential Skills)
• act as the team's representative on the social committee
Computer use • maintain the company website for one week
• develop a new budget spreadsheet
Continuous learning • try new assignments in accordance with personal learning plans
• identify training sessions they are interested in attending
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