What Is Skill Variety? (Explained for Beginners)

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Nobody wants to do the same thing every working day. This will make you bored, unsatisfied, and lose the inspiration to work. 

However, with skill variety, jobs can be designed with varied skills to help stimulate interest, satisfaction, and growth.

Here’s What Skill Variety Means:

Skill variety refers to how an employee needs to utilize different sets of skills to perform their job description. It relates to the degree that the work entails various activities that call for other talents and abilities. 

Requiring skill variety is a great way for employees to feel more useful and valuable. 

This is especially true if these varied skills needed to finish a task are considered valuable by the company.

Consider how a business manager may feel about the value of their work, which requires different abilities and skills. This can lead to the manager feeling that their job is meaningful.

I can tell from my own experiences that you feel way more motivated and valued when you are the one person in charge of doing something important. The company or business needs you, and although this comes with some feelings of pressure, it is also highly satisfying.

Jobs performed by teams usually call for skill variety. 

Teams have complex tasks that need different talents, competencies, and skills to complete.

Skill variety may attract more experienced employees because it enables them to use their accumulated skills.

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Why Is Skill Variety Important?

In big companies, jobs usually don’t require various skills and tasks depending on the position. There are typically positions filled by specialists who focus on completing a single assignment. 

It is common for the experience to be quite the opposite when it comes to smaller businesses and startups.

Everyone involved, from employees to managers and owners, will often wear many caps and will need to complete various duties.

This usually stems from limited capacity and staffing. 

Although sometimes underestimated, skill variety is vital for the following reasons:

Improve Motivation and Satisfaction

Requiring skill variety in a job is crucial in reducing boredom, which improves job motivation and satisfaction. 

People are happiest when they are and feel valued.

If employees love the skills and feel that they are essential for the job, they are more motivated to continue giving their best. However, imposing various skills that an employee dislikes or they’re not capable of can increase stress and dissatisfaction. 

Some organizations do a great job of encouraging employees to grow their skillset by providing training. Other companies will rely on employees to self learn which can be challenging.

Minimal skills that don’t add to the value of a job may also result in the same lack of motivation and dissatisfaction.

Employees should participate in job design to have the best impact on satisfaction and motivation.

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Maximize Operational Effectiveness

The best companies and businesses all typically have a set of things they are great at that allow them to rise above the competition.

1 key element that practically all these organizations have is being efficient.

Having great skill variety and employees who excel in these skills allows everything to run smoother and more efficiently.

Allowing employees to vary the skills needed to structure their tasks based on their optimal work patterns improves operational effectiveness. For example, a morning person who doesn’t feel productive in the morning may opt to do the simpler tasks first and do the more complex tasks in the afternoon. 

This will significantly benefit the company because of the employee working in their most productive hours.

Aid in Succession Planning

Allowing employees to engage in more challenging tasks with their current roles will let them learn new tasks and develop the skills required to advance their careers. 

This is not only great for people looking to advance in their careers, but it is also great for the companies they work for.

The business has a more skilled worker, and the employee has a more established career.

The management can then design an effective succession plan. 

The employee will be given on-the-job training for the new skills after identifying a succession plan. This way, they’ll be ready for promotion as soon as the role becomes available.

Enhance Health and Safety

Completing the same mundane task for hours on end is, of course, boring and repetitive. It can also potentially turn into a health or safety risk.

Operating heavy machinery or completing the same movement can be dangerous and unhealthy if not done with focus. 

For example, a worker may suffer from repetitive stress injury for long hours of repetitive motions such as typing. 

Thus, it’s best to reduce these tasks for the sake of both the team member and the company.

If a job has skill variety, individuals can perform different tasks and stay focused, alert, and safer.

Main Takeaways

Skill variety is an integral part of job design, which refers to the variety of skills needed for a role. It helps improve employee satisfaction and motivation, improves operations, and aids in succession planning. 

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