What Is Vertical Job Loading?

There are over three billion workers around the world, doing everything from manual labor to high-tech operations.

Money is a key motivating factor for most people working, although many employees take pride in their job and want to do the best work they can.

That’s where vertical job loading comes into play.

Vertical job loading is the process of enriching employment by offering workers more challenging tasks to increase motivation and success.

This is different from job enlargement or horizontal job loading, which is when employees are given extra work without a higher challenge level.

Keep reading to learn everything there is to know about vertical job loading.

Table of Contents

What does vertical job loading mean?

 job enrichment

Vertical job loading is a form of job enrichment in which roles are redesigned to maximize opportunities for growth and increase employee motivation at the same time.

This management concept was first published by psychologist Frederick Herzberg in a 1968 Harvard Business Review piece on motivating employees.

In this article, Herzberg provided the following list of employee motivators in order of importance:

  1. Achievement
  2. Recognition
  3. Work itself
  4. Responsibility
  5. Advancement
  6. Growth

Herzberg recommended employers modify jobs to offer more motivators for employees. This is called vertical job loading, which is about making jobs more challenging so employees can learn new things and avoid repetitive, unfulfilling work.

jobs more challenging

How is vertical job loading used?

Many businesses use vertical job loading to enrich employment opportunities and increase staff satisfaction.

Job enrichment is essential in helping employees progress throughout their careers and get much more out of their work.

The main goals of job loading include:

  • Reduce monotonous work
  • Provide more recognition for employees
  • Offer greater opportunities for promotions
  • Support employee growth
  • Encourage skills development
  • Empower ongoing employee education and knowledge

Vertical job loading is essentially one way of climbing the corporate ladder, although it’s done with more intention and support from the employer.

vertical job loading or enrichment

Companies may implement vertical job loading or enrichment to help entry-level employees, experienced managers, and everyone in between.

Employers can engage yet challenge their staff by creating more job opportunities with the right level of support.

How can employers enrich jobs?

Vertical job loading is designed to increase job satisfaction and productivity, which reduces turnover and encourages high-quality output as much as possible.

With so many businesses – big and small – looking for more staff, it’s important to prioritize job enrichment to keep employees on board rather than looking for work elsewhere.

Keeping employees happy and fulfilled also benefits customers who appreciate reliable support from dedicated staff.

There are many ways employers can enrich jobs and successfully commit to vertical loading, with possible changes varying based on each job position.

Some roles are easier to enrich than others, so brainstorming sessions are key to understanding all the areas in which existing job responsibilities can be improved.

However, these seven principles from Herzberg help employers review potential job updates, as they should prioritize changes that do at least one of the following:

principles from Herzberg
  1. Remove some controls yet maintain accountability
  2. Increase personal accountability for individual work
  3. Give employees a full unit of work
  4. Grant additional authority for specific activity areas
  5. Share periodic reports directly with workers instead of just supervisors
  6. Introduce new tasks with a higher level of difficulty, particularly those not previously handled
  7. Assign specialized tasks to build individual expertise

As an example, you could assign one employee to present a monthly report to management, which increases individual accountability through direct reporting and presenting.

It’s also a way to give workers more authority in their area of expertise with challenging yet rewarding tasks.

What is the difference between horizontal and vertical job loading?

Many employers struggle at first with the difference between horizontal and vertical job loading.

employee burnout

Traditional companies that aren’t keeping up with the times may fall into the pattern of horizontal job loading, where they give staff more work without upping the challenge or motivation.

While this method has some perks, it can also lead to employee burnout, dissatisfaction, and turnover.

Think of it this way: horizontal job loading keeps employees where they are, just doing more work.

Vertical job loading is better for employee mindset and motivation levels by giving them more exciting and engaging responsibilities that help them grow in their role and become the best worker they can be.

This approach allows employees to gain valuable experience and work their way up into more senior roles.

More authority and autonomy reinforce employee work ethic and helps them prepare for future management roles, whether it be overseeing a specific project or running their own team.

Vertical job expansion is made possible through effective feedback and widened decision-making.

Although it takes extra effort to manage, when done right, it’s one of the best things businesses can do for autonomous work teams.

What are vertical job loading techniques?

vertical job loading techniques

There are a lot of ways modern organizations can incorporate vertical job loading into their everyday operations.

Identifying project-specific work units and combining tasks is a great place to start. It’s also important to rotate jobs and give employees the opportunity to experience different aspects of the business so they continue developing new skills.

Remember, vertical job loading should broaden job scope. For example, a warehouse employee who mainly stocks shelves could be trained on filling order slips and processing inventory as part of ongoing job enrichment efforts.

This expansion of duties should motivate the worker to do their best and give them something to look forward to as they aren’t doing the same thing every day.

While horizontal loading requires the same skill level, vertical job loading involves new skills.

Another example of a proper job enrichment technique is giving an administrator in a PR office the chance to write a press release.

It may be a small assignment at first, but the more they do, the more they will learn and the more appreciated they will feel like part of the team.

What is task significance?

greater sense of motivation

Task significance is an important aspect of vertical job loading, as it highlights the importance of each employee task to the rest of the team.

When workers are given menial tasks that don’t have a large impact, they are more likely to lose motivation over time.

If they feel like their work is making a noticeable difference to the team, employees enjoy a greater sense of motivation and reward for their hard work.

Employers with the most successful vertical job loading structure roles in a way that shows employees firsthand how their work contributes to the rest of the team.

This motivates workers to do their best and can be engrained in employees from their first day on the job.

A tour of the whole company and training sessions with multiple departments offers an inside look at how all the operations come together, which can positively influence employee motivation.

After all, employees deserve and ultimately need to know how different departments work together to acknowledge and handle responsibility.

support one another

By showing how the business is a true team effort, employers can motivate their employees to be high performers and support one another.

Making strategic business decisions is much easier and more successful when employees have the knowledge of task significance and team responsibilities to guide them.