“Employees can be competent designers of their work.” – (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001).
Despite what you might think, putting additional tasks on your to-do list, playing tricks, taking shortcuts or doing something considered as ‘non-work’ might actually help you find your job more meaningful.
This is according to the research of Wrzesniewski and Dutton (2001) who suggest that the tasks and social relationships which comprise our jobs serve as “raw materials” from which any employee can construct or craft the meaning of their work and their corresponding work identity. This action is called job crafting and had been found to lead to psychological and performance benefits.
What is Job Crafting
By definition, job crafting is how an employee reframes their work, physically, socially and cognitively. It is “…what employees do to redesign their own jobs in ways that foster engagement at work, job satisfaction, resilience, and thriving” (Berg, Wrzesniewski, & Dutton, 2010).
When an employee is given a job description or set number of tasks expected of their working time, regardless of the content, there remains the actual doing the job. In this process, the employee will determine the physical and cognitive boundaries of the job and engage the social relationships required to perform the job. When any one of these elements of the job are altered by the employee, they are said to be ‘job crafting’ (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001).
Benefits of Job Crafting: Making Work Meaningful
Job crafting helps people find meaning in their work as the purpose of tasks is reframed which in
turn, impacts their work identity (Wrzesniewski, 2014). The example offered by Wrzesniewski and Dutton (2001) to explain this dynamic is “an internet service provider changes the framing of the work from being about sales to being about connecting those who would otherwise be left behind in the computing revolution, the meaning of the work changes as does the employee’s identity (deal maker versus champion of the masses).”
By reframing the purpose of his work he has changed the meaning of his job and the nature of social interactions which surround the work which in turn alters his work identity and his well-being.
Through the action of crafting, employees have an opportunity to use their strengths efficiently through experimentation, boundary formation and social engagement which leads to greater emotional well-being (French, 2010).
And just in case meaningful work and emotional well-being weren’t motivation enough, job crafting also leads to increased work commitment, satisfaction, and attachment to the job and enables mobility into new roles thus encouraging overall performance.
So how can you start crafting your job?
It’s as Simple as One, Two, Three: The Three Ways to Start Job Crafting
There are three different ways that people could use to craft their jobs; Task, Relational, and Cognitive Crafting (Berg, Dutton & Wrzesniewski, 2013) each of which will be explained briefly below:
1) Task Crafting
This involves changing the boundaries of the job by taking on more or fewer tasks, expanding or diminishing the scope of tasks, and altering the way tasks are performed.
This is done by add tasks into your working day that you find meaningful to your job, emphasizing and building on tasks you already find meaningful or redesigning unwanted tasks by adding different techniques or technologies that can help you to craft your work to become easier and more in line with your interests and strengths.
2) Relational Crafting:
This involves reframing the social relationships you have at the workplace by altering the extent or nature of your interactions with others.
You can craft your relationships by reframing or adapting the meaning and purpose of why you interact with each other. And while working with people is tough sometimes, here is the tip to make them more meaningful:
“You can build a relationship with colleagues or customers by expressing appreciations.”
3) Cognitive Crafting:
Cognitive crafting comprises changing the way you think about your job by altering how you perceive job tasks or viewing these tasks as part of the collective whole as opposed to a set of separate job demands.
I find this one the most interesting as it involves making changes within yourself. The power is with the employee to broaden their perceptions of their job’s purpose and scope, and they can even reframe their job to develop their interests, desired outcomes, relationships and overall identity thus creating meaningful work.
Job Crafting Intervention
In addition to these strategies, we can also consider Job Crafting Intervention (JCI) which involves the assessing the employee’s strengths and communicating support for them to re-craft their job in accordance with their desired performance results (French, 2010).
Wrzesniewski who introduced the concept of job crafting in 2001 also suggests in her speech made in 2014 that any organization could seed effective job crafting through:
- Enhancing support and autonomy,
- Creating development plans for employees
- Developing strategic goals and
- Holding job crafting meetups
Job Crafting is About Being Proactive
People will craft their jobs differently, we all have a unique set of strengths and approach towards making our work meaningful. The key to creating a job crafting workplace is to be proactive.
The study performed by Berg and Dutton (2010) suggests that job crafting is a proactive process which involves adaptive action and actually a job crafting environment can help employees cope with changes better. Be adaptive, encourage creativity and start reframing.
Whether you find your work meaningful or not, and the relationships you have at work are valuable to you or not depends on how proactive you are willing to be in reframing and crafting your work to become meaningful to you. The boundaries you create within your job can be expanded or confined when you start task, cognitive and relational crafting and you will be surprised by the abundance of creativity and commitment which exists within you.
Wrzesniewski, A., & Dutton, J. E. (2001). Crafting a job: Revisioning employees as active crafters of their work. Academy of management review,26(2), 179-201.
Berg, J. M., Wrzesniewski, A., & Dutton, J. E. (2010). Perceiving and responding to challenges in job crafting at different ranks: When proactivity requires adaptivity. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31(2‐3), 158-186.
French, M. (2010). Job crafting. Handbook of Improving Performance in the Workplace, Volume Two: Selecting and Implementing Performance Interventions, 555-568.
Berg, J. M., Dutton, J. E., & Wrzesniewski, A. (2013). Job crafting and meaningful work. Purpose and meaning in the workplace, 81-104.
Wrzesniewski, A. (2014). Job Crafting - Amy Wrzesniewski on creating meaning in your own work. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_igfnctYjA&feature=youtu.be,