During the week, most of us spend half our waking hours at work. And a lot of us see it as a struggle, or at least a bore, looking forward to the weekend when we can do more worthwhile things. But what if your job itself was worthwhile? What if it was meaningful, left you satisfied, and through it, you could be part of something bigger?
Job crafting is about taking proactive steps and actions to redesign what we do at work, essentially changing tasks, relationships, and perceptions of our jobs. The main premise is that we can stay in the same role, getting more meaning out of our jobs simply by changing what we do and the 'whole point' behind it.
Task crafting: Changing up responsibilities
Task crafting may be the most discussed aspect of the approach, perhaps because job crafting is commonly seen as active 'shaping' or 'moulding' of one's role. It can involve adding or dropping the responsibilities set out in your official job description. For instance, a chef may take it upon themselves to not just serve food but to create beautifully designed plates that enhance a customer's dining experience. As another example, a bus driver might decide to give helpful sightseeing advice to tourists along his route. This type of crafting might also (or) involve changing the nature of certain responsibilities or dedicating different amounts of time to what you currently do.
Relationship crafting: Changing up interactions
This is how people reshape the type and nature of the interactions they have with others. In other words, relationship crafting can involve changing up who we work with on different tasks, who we communicate and engage with regularly. A marketing manager might brainstorm with the firm's app designer to talk and learn about the user interface, unlocking creativity benefits while crafting relationships.
Cognitive crafting: Changing up one's mindset
The third type of crafting, cognitive crafting, is how people change their mindsets about the tasks they do. By changing perspectives on what we are doing, we can find or create more meaning about what might otherwise be seen as 'busy work'. Changing hotel bedsheets in this sense might be less about cleaning and more about making travellers' journeys more comfortable and memorable.
Job crafting presents lots of potential benefits for organizational and positive psychology practitioners. While still relatively young, the approach has been examined empirically. Among the findings, and in addition to more meaningful work as mentioned above, there is evidence for at least five main benefits.
Enhanced organizational performance
The very act of shaping one's job is beneficial. Proactive crafting is inherently innovative and creative, and at an organizational level, it is conducive to flexibility and adaptability. In increasingly dynamic and global business environments, it can contribute to a firm-level competitive advantage.
Altering the way we see and engage with our jobs can give us a sense of control over what the tasks do, as well as more fulfilment from the connections we make. We have more resources at our disposal, which is intrinsically motivating—it facilitates personal growth and helps us accomplish our goals.
Adding more challenge promotes mastery
When we stretched ourselves a healthy amount through task crafting, we encourage mastery experiences; these, in turn, are conducive to our well-being. In job crafting, too, we may seek out feedback and support, potentially boosting our job performance.
It may help us achieve our 'ideal' career status
By analyzing our tasks and identifying our goals, we can move toward them more effectively through crafting. When we add or alter tasks in alignment with our strengths and motives, we experience better person-job fit.
The positive impact of making thoughtful changes to the design of a job has been documented and studied in a broad range of occupations. The principles of job crafting remain deeply relevant in a world where job structure is rapidly changing, putting more and more responsibility on the individual for the experience and engagement in their work. While this certainly creates challenges, it also brings opportunities to build the kinds of task, relational, and cognitive landscapes that bring meaning to work.