How job crafting can make work more satisfying
Summary of Article
Job Crafting: How managers can help to make jobs more satisfying
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of employee engagement for organisations. An estimated $500 million is lost annually in productivity as a result of disengagement. According to Gallup research, 70% of workers don’t consider themselves engaged and want their jobs and current roles to be more satisfying, meaningful, and fulfilling. Employees are switching off because their skills aren’t fully utilised; not challenged or stimulated, they lack flexibility and autonomy.
For managers, then, determining how to improve engagement and satisfaction is a mission critical priority, particularly in a post-pandemic working world where uncertainty is rife. Job crafting is one approach being utilised to do so in the wake of COVID-19. Job crafting is a proactive, often unsupervised, modern take on job re-design that empowers workers to transform the jobs they have into the jobs they want, by becoming design agents instead of passive recipients of job titles, responsibilities, and roles.
Research on job crafting, which typically focuses on employees, already highlights considerable positive outcomes, including well-being, organisational commitment, perceptions of meaning and purpose of work, self and colleague ratings of performance, and adaptation to organisational change. Because it’s a bottom-up approach, crafting can only be fully successful if it’s supported and encouraged by all levels of management.
Where instances of such committed existed, we found that job crafting:
1. Improved well-being
2. Improved collaboration
3. Increased productivity
4. Strengthened loyalty
It’s crucial that the practice is implemented and managed effectively; to do so, crafting must align with both the employee and the company’s goals. That’s because there are three main forms crafting-adjustments can take.
1. The first relates to changing the job’s task boundaries, and is referred to as ‘task crafting.’ By choosing to do fewer, more, or different tasks than prescribed in the formal job listing, employees create a different job.
2. The second relates to changing the relational boundary of the job through either the quality or amount of interactions with others at work, and is referred to as ‘relational crafting.’
3. The third relates to changing the cognitive task boundaries of jobs, and is known as ‘cognitive crafting,’ because it’s about altering one’s perception of the meaning of work.
We found that most crafting (76%) occurring post-pandemic has altered tasks, rather than relationships or cognition.
We recommend a 4-step framework for manager’s interventions based on our research findings.
1. Ensure employees know they have PERMISSION to craft: It’s vital that employees have the autonomy and empowerment to adapt their job descriptions and responsibilities, thus creating work that is personally meaningful, engaging, and satisfying to them. While this does not entail changing of the job description or job role per se, it involves having the freedom to choose the means to the end.
2. Create a culture of PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY: By creating an environment where employees feel comfortable and are not ridiculed for sharing innovative ideas, they can experiment with new methods and potentially even make mistakes without fear of judgement or scrutiny.
3. Grant employees the CONTROL they need to craft: Employees need autonomy, control, trust, and decision latitude over their workloads. Managers are often concerned that crafting provides employees with an excuse to drop their primary tasks and responsibilities, not realising that crafting, if done well, aligns with employees’ strengths, motives, and values.
4. Give employees the CAPACITY to craft: This includes ensuring that employees’ workloads are realistic, that they have clear role boundaries, and that they have protected time to craft.
If managers hold the reins too tightly, employees may feel they lack agency and meaning in their work and become disengaged. Employees can drive the solutions regarding their disengagement – but will managers give them the space to implement them post-pandemic? Given the compelling positive impact of making thoughtful changes to the design of a job can have on both employees and managers, we certainly hope so. Particularly now, when the job structure for individual contributors is rapidly changing, it will benefit both managers and employees to place greater emphasis and responsibility on the individual to master the destiny of their work.
How can we create greater employee engagement?
How can we make jobs more satisfying, meaningful, and fulfilling?
How can we ensure skills are fully utilised; challenged or stimulated, and create flexibility and autonomy?
Can job crafting be used in education?
How can we ensure all levels of management support job crafting, including Governors?
How do we encourage employees to pursue job crafting?
How can we ensure employees know they have PERMISSION to craft?
How can we create a culture of PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY?
How can we grant employees the CONTROL they need to craft?
How can we give employees the CAPACITY to craft?
Employees can drive solutions if we let them.
It is important to place greater emphasis and responsibility on the individual to master the destiny of their work.
Laker, B., Patel, C., Budhwar, P. and Malik, A. (2020) How job crafting can make work more satisfying. MIT Sloan Management Review. ISSN 1532-9194 Available at http://centaur.reading.ac.uk/92117/