Cultivating Meaning at Work with Job Crafting
21 Jun 2022 2 mins read By Andrea Amato

Job crafting refers to an employee’s ability to redesign their job to better fulfil their skills and needs. In redesigning what could be perceived as mundane tasks and responsibilities, job crafters modify their perspective in such a way that increases their job satisfaction overall. The aim of job crafting is to bring more purpose to the workplace, aligning the work identity with personal values.   

Originally coined by Amy Wrzniewski and Jane Dutton in 2011, job crafting was theorised to assist employees in taking charge of their work and proactively ensuring a better quality of life. Although the concept itself is nothing new, Wrzniewski & Dutton developed a systematic approach to meaning making at work, allowing for a more approachable and accessible means to apply job crafting in everyday working lives. 


How can I begin job crafting? 


As a starting point, job crafting typically develops from three main routes:  

  • Task crafting: Altering how we approach our daily work tasks and their outcomes, this could be done by removing, adding, or redesigning tasks, 
  • Relational crafting: Reshaping how we interact with others in the workplace, this could appear as spending more time with colleagues, and 
  • Cognitive (or perception) crafting: Considering our work in general and adapting our mindset to perceive work in a positive light, finding ways to align our work with our personal values.  

In summary, research indicates the above to significantly work as methods to approach redesigning your perspective at your on-site or remote job. This can be done by amending current tasks to suit your skills and needs, positively interpreting relationships you hold with colleagues, and by introspectively evaluating what meaning your work brings you as your career develops.  


Why is job crafting important to implement in the workplace? 


Job crafting allows employees the autonomy to redesign their work without compromising their role from a managerial point of view. It can also be implemented in a wide array of roles and industries. For example, an employee who typically has autonomy in the workplace can manipulate their tasks to better suit their talents. If another employee does not share the same freedom of autonomy (i.e., cannot amend their tasks directly) they can opt for relational crafting instead.  

Since its origination in 2011, job crafting has been a popular concept implemented across numerous workplace contexts. For example, Demerouti et al. (2020) implemented a job crafting intervention as a series of workshops to lessen employee exhaustion, and increase positive behaviour in a blue-collar environment. In another study, multiple models for job crafting were assessed to measure employee engagement and burnout across different industries and countries (Slemp et al., 2021). All in all, job crafting remains a popular research tool that supports widespread practice in organisations.  


The invaluable role model: Managers 


More recently, managers and leaders alike are attending to job crafting, and aim to support employees and their on-site or remote jobs whilst ensuring task completion. As employees manipulate their tasks and co-worker relationships, managers look to foster beneficial job crafting without negatively impacting the organisation. This can be challenging, as although job crafting can be beneficial to employees, not everyone learns to craft positively.  

Additionally, in urging employees to engage in job crafting, managers may turn inwards and apply crafting to their own roles. Managers often have more autonomy and room for flexibility than their subordinates, allowing them further freedoms to apply job crafting in their roles and become a role-model for their employees. For example, in amending task workload to meet with employees more frequently, managers can effectively construct relationships with their colleagues. Tasks can also be amended in such a way that favours relationships, for instance performance reviews that occur in person. In this way, managers enhance their job satisfaction whilst achieving their work tasks. 

Moreover, in improving colleague relationships, managers can positively influence employees to be proactive about job crafting. Managers lead the way for positive organisational change and are responsible for using job crafting to improve their job satisfaction whilst attending to their employees crafting. The below illustrates practical recommendations for managers to foster and facilitate job crafting: 

  • Design jobs that allow room for job crafting: Tailor the on-site or remote jobs of employees in such a way that they can meet their expectations whilst leaving room for personal growth and motivations. 
  • Support job crafting that is sustainable for employees and the organisation: Sometimes, employees craft to suit their needs but may not consider organisational strategies. In designing a job that tailors crafting, managers should also foster a narrative to support beneficial job crafting, which means employees understand that job crafting is encouraged so long as it doesn’t harm organisational goals.   
  • Maintain open communication throughout: It’s possible that under certain circumstances, employees may not engage in beneficial job crafting, and this can result in the hindrance of organisational goals. To avoid this, managers should maintain an open stream of communication with employees and ask how they would like to facilitate job crafting whilst meeting goals.  

Essentially, managers and leaders alike pave the way for employees to follow suit in encouraging positive behaviours in the workplace. In building trusting relationships with employees from the get-go, they will turn more forthcoming in trying out new concepts such as job crafting, and feel more comfortable in doing so, for the betterment of all workers and the organisation.  


Recommendations for Employees 


When enacted properly, job crafting can be beneficial for any employee in the workplace. Fulfilment, and meaning making in general, does positively impact individuals and presents as job satisfaction, improved performance, and increased motivation. Feeling more motivated at work not only helps development from a personal level, but also supports further valuable contribution to the organisation.  

Job crafting is not a static process, rather it alters and develops over time. Everyone behaves differently, and what is fulfilling to one individual may not be as such for another. In this way, it is beneficial that employees receive enough room to redesign their jobs according to what works for them. Be open to amendments over time, where your needs and talents develop alongside your crafting, and the latter may need to grow to accommodate the former. 

 Further, job crafting depends on the resources available to employees. The theory successfully develops around flexibility, and the room for workers to expand their redesigns. Employees may need to evaluate their accessible resources, and what can be crafted to their liking. Crafting is a creative endeavour as employees discover what is meaningful for them in their on-site or remote jobs.  

The positive impact of making thoughtful changes to your working life has been researched and documented to help make you feel more fulfilled daily. Job crafting is an important initiative to explore and implement due to the ever-changing working society, where rapid changes can quickly become destabilising. Individuals are becoming more responsible in making their everyday jobs meaningful, despite overcoming challenges. Engaging in job crafting will help you grasp more purpose out of your work, enhance your work identity, perform better, and cope more effectively when obstacles come your way.  

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