Have you heard of job crafting? Whether you have heard the term before or not, it is likely that you have engaged in the activity of job crafting at some point during your career. In a nutshell, job crafting means modifying your job to make it more engaging and meaningful to yourself. Job crafting can benefit both, the individual employees AND the organization, as it increases well-being and job satisfaction, and helps create better customer experiences and increase productivity.
RESEARCH ON Job Crafting
One of the scholars who has done ground-breaking work in researching job crafting is Amy Wrzesniewski. Wrzesniewski and her colleagues studied hospital cleaning staff and found differences among the cleaners in terms of what they did in their jobs on a daily basis, and how they perceived their role. Some of the cleaners considered their job not to be especially satisfying nor require much talent. Their motivation was mainly based on external factors, such as the benefits of the job. Other members of the cleaning crew, however, viewed their job in a totally different way. They found that their role was crucial in the healing process of the patients. They considered their job to require special skills, and they went out of their way to make the stay at the hospital as comfortable as possible for the patients and their visitors. The difference between these groups of cleaners? You guessed it, the latter was actively crafting different aspects of their jobs.
According to Wrzesniewski, job crafting can happen at three levels. It can be focused on the tasks, it can be related to the relationships and interactions with others, or it can happen at a cognitive level, meaning that we change the way we perceive the job and its meaning. Often, we do job crafting unconsciously. Have you ever exchanged job tasks with your colleague, for example? Perhaps your colleague really enjoys working with numbers so you agreed that they pull the data together for the monthly reports. You, on the other hand, really have a way with words and so you take over the written parts of the reports. Whether you knew it or not, you were crafting your jobs to include more of the tasks that allow you to put your individual strengths in better use.
From OCCASIONAL TWEAKING TO STRATEGIC JOB CRAFTING
Many of us might already be doing job crafting to some degree without even realizing it. But strategically providing employees the tools and knowledge to craft their jobs consciously is what can really help organizations thrive through increased employee engagement. Personally, I have not always been great at crafting my job. I have done it at an unconscious level like most of us, tweaking little things. But looking back, I could have done so much more with the right tools.
One good starting point for strategic job crafting is understanding your own as well as other team members’ strengths. This can sound like a no-brainer, but it really isn’t. According to research, only about 33% of people are aware of their own strengths. Taking some time to really identify and explore each team members’ strengths goes a long way. The next step would be to understand how everyone in the team can best use their strengths for the common goals. The beauty of a team is that it allows people to complete each other’s strengths: someone’s weak area is going to be someone else’s strength and passion.
Finding new ways to use your character strengths can also help you craft your tasks and interactions with others. For example, if one of your highest strengths is Love of Learning, you could make interactions with others more engaging by trying to learn something new in every interaction. This can also make the other person feel more valued, thus fostering positive relationships. Character strengths can also be a way to perceive your job through a bigger purpose or meaning. If Fairness is one of your signature strengths, you could consider ways how your daily acts of fairness contribute to a more equal and fair world.
Job crafting is a powerful tool to increase engagement at work. If you are interested in helping your team work even more effectively together, take a look at my workshops and contact me for a free consultation.
And if you are interested in learning more about Amy Wrzesniewski’s work, this talk is a great place to start!