Job crafting is when employees redesign their jobs (either physically or mentally) in ways that can foster job satisfaction and engagement and help them thrive.
Research shows that employees don’t always enact the jobs formally assigned to them, but instead actively shape their jobs to fit their needs, values, and preferences.
You probably have things about your job that are frustrating. Studies have shown that people who engage in job crafting are more satisfied and connected in their job.
- Hospital cleaner who creates healing environment for patients.
- Stylist who helps clients look and feel beautiful.
The central theme is to try to make small changes to things that you can change, or to change the way that you think about central tenets of your job.
Expand the content below for more information and check out some of the links and attached documents if you need some help getting started.
Thinking about the last few weeks, make a list of all of the things you do at work. Break them down into three lists:
- Things you spend a lot of time on
- Things you spend moderate time on
- Things you spend a little time on
The more specific you can be, the better. “Writing daily progress notes” is better than “Using the EMR.”
Use this Task List document to assist you in getting started.
Divide your tasks from each time group into:
- Things that are important for the organization
- Things that have a personal impact for you
If you have used the Task List document, place a box around the tasks that are important for the organization. Those components may not be what wake you up in the morning, but they are the things that define the “job” that you were hired to do.
Next, place a circle around the tasks that have a personal impact for you. These are things that you want to try to maximize as we move through subsequent steps.
All aspects about a job can be placed into two broad categories: job demands and job resources. Job demands are those aspects of a job that require sustained physical and/or psychological skills, and thus impose a certain physical or psychological cost. Job resources are aspects of a job that are functional in achieving work goals, reducing demands and their associated costs, or stimulating growth, learning and development. We will return to a detailed discussion of job resources in the next section.
Job demands can be further divided into challenge demands and hindrance demands.
Challenge demands are aspects of the job that stimulate individuals to develop knowledge or skills to achieve increasingly difficult goals. Although these situations that often confer high responsibility and high workload may be stressful, they lead to a high degree of work engagement. Thus, crafting more challenges within a job may be a way to increase personal growth and job satisfaction. As you think about your own list of tasks, these are the things that if you had a choice, you would do more often. These tasks are not trivial, they can lead to some stress, but completing them bring satisfaction.
Hindrance demands, by contrast, are aspects of the job that are demanding and not particularly enjoyable, either because there are not adequate resources to meet the demands or they leave your feeling depleted. Prolonged exposure to high demands in combination with low levels of job resources may lead to negative health consequences such as burnout. As you think about your own list of tasks, these are the things that you often dread doing, and if you had a choice, you would do less often.
It is important to note that these things are not static. We are in a constant state of maturation and change, as are our work environments, and so the tasks that today are hindrance demands may one day be challenge demands as our knowledge and skill sets grow. Or, by contrast, what once was a challenge demand no longer presents a novel opportunity and can serve as a hindrance. Thus, it can be helpful to return to these exercises over time to continually assess how your current job is serving you and how you can craft it to increase your overall satisfaction and performance.
For this step, refer back to your list of tasks from Step 1:
Do the tasks that you circled – those that are important to you – represent challenge demands?
What about the tasks with boxes around them – those important to the organization? Do those represent challenge or hindrance demands?
Feel free to use this Job Demands worksheet to compile a list of challenge and hindrance demands in your workplace, using your list from Step 1 and adding or deleting tasks as necessary.
Resources can be thought of broadly as personal, social, and material elements that can be used to deal with threats in various life domains. People are generally motivated to obtain, retain, and protect their resources, particularly because they aid in the process of growth and adaptation. When initial gains are made, more resources become available, and these can be used further to gain new resources.
Personal resources are aspects of ourselves that contribute to achieving work goals or stimulate growth, learning, and development. These include things like knowledge, emotional intelligence, resilience, communication skills, work ethic, etc. Personal resources can be developed and enhanced over time, and can be utilized in work and personal settings.
As previously discussed, job resources are components of a job that are functional in helping you achieve your work goals. Job resources can be divided into domains of structural and social resources. Structural/environmental resources tend to impact job design, where the individual engaging in job crafting seeks to gain more responsibility or knowledge about their job. Examples of structural/environmental resources including autonomy, task variety, and opportunities for personal and/or professional development. Similarly, social resources have more impact on the social aspects of the job such as asking for or receiving meaningful feedback, supervisory coaching, or social support.
In this step, create a list of your resources, utilizing the three categories above:
- What are the personal resources that you bring to the table?
- What are the structural/environmental resources available in your work?
- What are the social resources available in your work?
Feel free to use this Resources worksheet to compile a list of personal, structural/environmental, and social resources in your life/workplace.
What is your estimate of the balance between demands and resources in your job? Consider the following questions:
- Are there hindrance demands that you can drop?
- What are ways that you can expand your challenge demands?
- How can you better align your resources to enhance your challenge demands and minimize your hindrance demands?
- What additional resources do you need to seek out?
Use this Job Demands Resources Grid worksheet to map the resources that you have listed to the challenge and hindrance demands presented by your job. Then, check out the next section for tips on how to craft your job to better align your job demands and resources.
Now is the time to put your plans into action!
The following are examples of three ways to engage in job crafting. However, this list is not exhaustive, and you may find other creative ways to re-configure your job and/or the way you think about it.How to Engage in Job Crafting:
Task Crafting – This involves changing the activities involved in your job:
- Taking on more tasks.
- Decreasing some tasks.
- Expanding or narrowing the scope of some tasks.
- Altering the way you perform tasks.
- Examples of task crafting:
- A paralegal who develops a new method for filing legal briefs so the job is less repetitive.
- A sales representative volunteering to design a new logo for the company.
- Physician who sees hospital rounds as an opportunity to share knowledge with others.
- Physician who sees performing consults for other services as an opportunity to both teach and learn from other colleagues.
Relational Crafting – This involves changing the nature or extent of your interactions with other people:
- Volunteering to help others with tasks.
- Identifying new ways of communicating with colleagues.
- Engaging or increasing interactions with co-workers or clients you used to encounter sparingly.
- Examples of relational crafting:
- Engineer increasing social connections by offering to help co-workers.
- Marketing representative engaging with clients by video conference rather than just over the phone.
- Surgeon who sees clinic visits as a way to make meaningful connections with patients and families.
Cognitive Crafting – This involves changing the way you think about what you do:
- The way you think about the purpose of your tasks:
- Re-framing to see the value of tasks that aren’t particularly pleasing, but are important for the job.
- The way you think about your work relationships.
- The way you think about your job as a whole.
- Examples of cognitive crafting:
- Hospital cleaner who sees work as a way of helping sick people.
- Insurance agent seeing their job as a way to help people get back on track after a house fire.
- Surgeon who sees operating as a way to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
- Physician educator who acknowledges they have a small part of every patient one of their students impacts because of what they taught.
- Student who sees their role as challenging themselves to do their best in preparation for their future career.
As you engage in this process, consider the following:
- What do you need to be successful in crafting a change?
- What outcome do you consider to be a success?
- A nurse who changes both the task and relational boundaries of their job:
- Task – Delivering high-quality care while paying attention to the patient.
- Relationship – Including patients’ family members for information and input.
- Hairdresser who changed relational boundaries by opening up to clients and asking them personal questions.
- Salespeople who adapted their tasks to communicate information about the vehicles being sold and who increased job resources by enrolling in a communication skill development course.
Resources and External Links
- 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 youtu.be/C_igfnctYjA.