What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Division of Labor?

Some advantages of the division of labor include increased worker efficiency and lower production costs, while some disadvantages include decreases in employee motivation and individual workers slowing the production process. The concept of the division of labor was first put forward by Adam Smith as a means to increase economic growth. He reasoned that employees could work faster if job tasks were broken down and assigned to specific workers.

One key advantage of the division of labor is that worker output can increase exponentially. If an employee performs the same set tasks each day, then he becomes an expert at his job over a period of time. As a result, he takes less time to complete each task and thus can complete more tasks overall. Also, from an employer's point of view, fewer resources are spent updating employees on new tasks because they do not change working roles.

However, the division of labor can cause the workforce to lose motivation because there is little chance of career progression. Performing the same tasks every day can become repetitive, and once enjoyment declines, production may also follow. Additionally, as each worker is in control of a specific part of the production line, all it takes for the whole process to go astray is for one employee to make a mistake. Then, others cannot complete their tasks.