What is job crafting?
We eagerly welcome personalization into our lives – whether that is the opportunity to personalise our clothes, tins of chocolate or designing and printing amazing customisable greeting cards online. Being able to tailor things to our own personal preferences, style and values creates meaning and worth for us.
Job crafting enables employees to bring this personalization to the workplace. It can be done individually or in teams. Although every job has a fundamental structure and design, job crafting encourages people to shape elements of the role so it’s more aligned with an employee’s strengths, skills and interests. These include our tasks, relationships and thoughts about work.
The term job crafting comes from a 2001 research study involving hospital cleaners. The cleaners were found to broadly fall into one of two groups when asked about how they perceived their jobs. One group felt the work wasn’t satisfying or highly skilled, describing their motives for being in the job as financial, whereas the second group described their work as extremely meaningful and highly skilled . Further discussions revealed that whilst the first group described their job in terms of the actions one might expect a cleaning role to entail, such as mopping and sterilising, the second group outlined activities which were a little less expected. They described activities such as noticing which patients were upset, so they could double back and drop in on them during their shift to give them a chance to talk about how they were feeling. Others in the same group described helping the visiting family of patients from the ward back to the car park, and moving the pictures that hung on patients’ walls around on a regular basis to provide a more stimulating environment for those recovering from comas.
The researchers came to call this proactive behaviour of shaping work as job crafting and subsequent studies found that this is related to several positive outcomes. Fast forward to 2020, and there have been more than 140 peer-reviewed studies of job crafting involving more than 46,000 employees from across the world, in positions ranging from customer advisers to chief executives.
This blog is one of three blogs which will be exploring the different elements of job crafting, which can be best understood in terms of the Why, the What and the How of job crafting. In this blog, we are going to be examining the Why of job crafting; exploring why job crafting matters and the three key benefits of job crafting for individuals and organisations.
Why is job crafting important?
Adopting a tailored approach to work has a multitude of benefits. These can be organised into three broad categories; thriving, growth and performance.
Job crafting enables people to thrive in their work. Taking more control of our tasks and tapping into our unique strengths and experiences boosts feelings of satisfaction, confidence, happiness and meaning, and even has a positive impact on our physical health – buffering stress and boosting wellbeing.
Job crafting requires people to continually innovate and improve their work in ways that matters to them. This proactivity stimulates growth and development on both a personal and professional level and job crafting has been positively linked with skills and knowledge development, career progression and satisfaction.
Job crafting fuels motivation, unlocks creativity and taps into people’s strengths and experiences. This performance advantage can be seen in terms of the quality of work and overall productivity and job crafting has been linked to performance ratings, customer satisfaction, teamwork and innovation.
About the author: Rob Baker is an author, TEDX speaker, Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, and founder of Tailored Thinking, a pioneering, evidence-based positive psychology, wellbeing and HR consultancy based in Durham, UK. Rob was recently named in HR Magazine’s most influential thinkers list (2023). Rob’s book, Personalization at Work, offers a deeper insight into job crafting and how to bring this to life in the workplace.
1 Wrzesniewski, A., (2015). Job crafting and creating meaning in your work, re:Work, available at: https://rework.withgoogle.com/blog/job-crafting-and- creating-meaning-in-your-work/ (archived at https://perma.cc/27LV-LCZ4).