There’s a concept in organizational psychology called ‘Job Crafting’, touted by psychologists Amy Wrzesniewski and Jane E. Dutton. By definition, Job crafting is a proactive behavior that employees use when they feel that changes in their job are necessary (Petrou et al., 2012). Studies across organizations from Fortune 500 to smaller non-profits show that employees who engage in Job Crafting tend to be satisfied and more engaged in their work. In just six weeks, members of Google’s People Analytics Team who participated in an exercise to customize their jobs were rated as more effective and happier by their co-workers and managers. Logitech & VMware are some of the other companies that have conducted such exercises and experienced the benefits amongst their employees.
There are numerous ways, in which one can design their tasks which are ultimately called Job Crafting. These can be broadly classified into three categories –
- Moulding Tasks
By identifying and emphasizing or even taking on the tasks that relate to your passion at the workplace you can carve a path to more job satisfaction. If your occupation allows it, you can even change tasks to make way for more of what you want to do. For instance, if you have an eye for aesthetics, you can look for ways to visually improve your presentation that you have to give for the next meeting. One of the challenges comes in the form of being on top of your game at the workplace already. You have to be proficient at your tasks so that managers trust you with your work and give you the freedom and the leeway, to let you do the job the way you want. In terms of feasibility, ‘task crafting’ is not possible for every job and every person.
- Interaction with others
Known as ‘relational crafting’, it is about creating and strengthening relationships at work. Whether it is to learn the ropes of your job by asking questions from your manager to hanging around another colleague for having an in-depth political discussion that you crave, you are picking and choosing who you interact more with and in the process, building meaningful and satisfying interactions with those at work.
- Cognitive perception of work
This has more to do with your mindset and perspective with respect to your work and how you change them in accordance to make your work seem more meaningful. In the process, you attach more value to your job, hence you tend to be more engaged and motivated. For example, a graphic designer may think of their work as solving problems of visual communication. Out of the above three, this part of job crafting, in ways might be the easiest to execute, as it deals with you, your mind and how you mould it.
How can Job Crafting help you as an employee?
Maria Popova, Bulgarian-born writer, blogger, literary and cultural critic, known for her blog Brain Pickings, job crafted her way to having a successful online platform. Working at an ad agency, she started a series of weekly email newsletters to eight of her colleagues, the content of which was five links to five interesting things from disciplines other than advertising. Later, she decided to take her newsletter to a bigger platform to reach out to more people. Brain Pickings now has over a million monthly readers.
It is impossible to design the perfect job for every individual employee. There’ll always be certain aspects that we love doing, while others, not so much. There are times when people think that they are stuck in the wrong job. But before jumping ships, take a hard look at what you can do about it by being in the same role, but re-imagining your job to include more of what you really enjoy about it. Basically, it’s designing your work in a way that you end up doing more of what you like, care about or is meaningful to you. More often than not, jobs of today require you to able to do a multitude of things and there’s much overlapping in terms of job roles, hence there’s always room for you to job craft. Most organizations have a system in place – internal job postings, which you can leverage to make room for job crafting. As you already know the internal environment of the company, you are better equipped to identify opportunities where you can exercise Job Crafting.
But, there’s a caveat, if you are thinking of taking some major steps and pushing the boundaries of your job role. While on an individual level you might be doing meaningful work, but if on the organizational level it does not align with the objectives of the company then it could do more harm than good. Employees have always been job crafting in small measures, whether they know of the term or not. In the end, Job Crafting is advantageous only if it supports a mutually beneficial situation for both, the organization as well as you.