Turn the Job You Have Into the Job You Want with Job Crafting

What if your supervisor told you that you don’t have to do the job you were hired to do?

We often think of our job as being constrained within the rigid framework of our position description, but these days, with rapid change and shifting expectations now the norm, many roles can’t adapt quickly enough to remain relevant…nor to keep employees inspired and fulfilled at work.

When it comes to work, the way to find fulfillment may be to change how you work, not what you do. Every one of us has our own ideas, natural strengths and a desire to learn new things. Job crafting — a mindset and skill — allows you to shape and redefine your current role in ways that can foster job satisfaction, increased engagement, and greater resilience and thriving at work.

What job crafting is (and what it isn’t)

Traditional job design theory focuses on a top-down process of supervisors designing jobs for their employees. Oftentimes, employees are naturally motivated to customize their roles to better fit their motives, strengths and passions. Job crafting is a way to engage with this process with purpose and intention, utilizing opportunities to actively adjust your tasks and interactions with others.

You still must contribute toward your organization achieving its objectives. You still must complete your work in order to get paid. However, with job crafting, your work will feel more meaningful.

Job crafting is not a one-time event

Job crafting is a fluid process that you engage in over time. It typically falls into three stages.

  1. You’re motivated to craft your job due to one or more factors. For example,
    • a desire for more control of your job or greater meaning for your work
    • a need for meaningful interactions with the people who benefit from your work
    • fulfillment of your passion for an occupation other than your current role
  2. You identify any available crafting opportunities and enact one or more ways of crafting your job, actively adjusting one or more of the following areas:
    • Processes: the number, type or nature of your work tasks
    • People: your interactions with others
    • Purpose: your perception of your work
  3. The crafting techniques you employed then lead to associated outcomes, including:
    • Changes to the meaning of your work and your work identity
      • alignment with personal expectations
      • fulfillment of a valued identity
    • Positive experiences
      • achievement
      • enjoyment
      • meaning
    • Resilience
      • increased competence
      • personal growth
      • ability to cope with future adversity

The 3 Ps: Process, People and Purpose

When job crafting, you’ll want to spend time focusing on step #2 above, particularly taking time to examine if and how you can adjust the “three Ps” of Process, People and Purpose.


Have you ever complained about not enjoying your job and received a response along the lines of, “Of course you don’t like it. That’s why it’s called work?” Yes, there will likely always be aspects of your job that feel boring or mundane, but having a negative attitude toward your work quickly leads to feelings of burnout and disappointment.

Instead, seek out the purpose in your work. Try taking the initiative to bring an exciting new task — no matter how large or small — into your work.

Consider: How do I use my strengths to bring more of myself into my work?


Although you typically can’t choose your coworkers, you may still be able to re-craft the quality of your relationships with them. One idea? Share a story of gratitude to build connectivity. Write an email to a colleague describing a memory of a time they used their strengths and skills to make a special contribution to your work or your organization. Be sure to include a lot of details.

Consider: How can I improve my relationships at work so they are more inspiring? How can I interact more with colleagues who inspire me, rather than detract from my quality of life?


Don’t wait for someone else — whether it’s your supervisor or your stakeholders — to give you a sense of purpose at work. Purpose is about understanding your impact on others, and developing a story about why you do what you do. Your purpose is a story you tell yourself, and you have the power to craft that story.

For each of your work tasks, ask yourself, “Why do I do this?” You may find you aren’t inspired by your answers. If that’s the case, try to personalize the purpose of each task to discover its larger meaning and purpose.

Consider: What story do I tell myself about why I do my job? How can I make the narrative more inspiring?

Discover the value and meaning of your work

You may assume work satisfaction is primarily about what you do, but more often than not, it’s also related to how you do it. Job crafting can help you learn to see value and meaning in all aspects of your work.

Annie McKee, author of How to Be Happy at Work, explains, “Happiness at work comes from the inside out. It’s something we create for ourselves. A lot of people will lose or leave a job and go somewhere else and find that they’re just as unhappy.”

Take the time to apply job crafting principles, and you may discover that your current job offers greater meaning and satisfaction than you thought. Resources to help you get started with this process are included below, and MSU HR’s Organization and Professional Development department can also offer further guidance at prodev@hr.msu.edu.

Recommended Resources

elevateU Monthly Featured Topic: Job Crafting

Job Crafting Questionnaire

OPD Personal Development Courses

YouTube Video: Job Crafting






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