Leadership Blog Series: Bring Meaning and Joy to the Employee Experience Through Job Crafting

Written by Sharri Margraves, Director for HR Organization and Professional Development 

Leaders who understand their role in bringing out the best in their employees make a significant impact on the employee experience, with a positive employee experience now requiring increased effort to recruit, retain and engage. Employees have become less accepting of doing things that may not make sense to them (what is the purpose?), and they will leave organizations to find a better fit.

Job crafting is a practical way to influence the engagement of employees to respond to organizational change more positively, be happier and have greater meaning in all the roles they perform. In turn, the positive experience can enhance the level of innovation, care, service, and productivity for clients, students, and customers.

Think about the explosion in the “craft” economy: beer, distilled spirits, bespoke “fill-in-the-blank.” That tailored experience makes us feel good and allows us to feel greater control and empowerment over some aspects of our lives— especially important when we live in a world that is anything but predictable.

What is job crafting?

The concept of job crafting isn’t all that different from other aspects of the craft economy. Job crafting is an aspect of empowerment that helps employees tailor their work to what brings them joy, adds to their experience and enhances the organization. According to research conducted over the past twenty years, job crafting — in the forms of task, relationship, and cognitive crafting — may be a critical element of engagement and job satisfaction, particularly in today’s workplace.

Task crafting – Changing up responsibilities. Improving the steps, timing, or sequencing of the tasks that make up your job to improve it in some way.

Example: Palmer, a customer service specialist, thought there could be an easier way to get the necessary information from customers. They set up a simple power form to capture key information in a consistent manner. Now there is a simple tracking system with all the key information leading to better resolution with improved response time, enhancing both the employee and customer experience.

Relationship crafting – Changing up interactions. Building relationships around aspects that are important to you with people you would not normally work with.

Example: Jody, a project lead, sought out other employees who were interested in mentoring new employees. She was engaged with the idea and participated in the task force which helped her connect with others from across the organization.

Cognitive crafting – Changing your mindset. Reframing the work to see how the value of the work contributes positively to the organization, the people, or greater society.

Example: Parker, a custodian, understood that his job involved a lot of repetition and was not glamorous. However, if he did not do his job, students could become ill or injured, might feel down about the environment at school or believe they were unimportant to the leaders at their school. By maintaining a safe and pleasant environment, he adjusts his thinking to focus on his incredible influence on the health and well-being of the students — contributing toward their success and helping them to graduate.

The leader’s role in job crafting

As a leader, you can initiate and facilitate the job crafting concept, asking employees for their thoughts and ideas. Design jobs (and job descriptions) that leave room for crafting. Demonstrate an openness to feedback and new ideas. Often, we overlook the true nature of our work and the meaning and joy we can derive from it. A little encouragement from you — and modeling the way — may just make the difference.

Leaders are in a unique position to not only foster beneficial job crafting in their employees but to practice crafting in their own roles to potentially impact numerous employees. Making small changes to your own job can have larger impacts on your organization as well.

Find additional resources to get you started below and reach out to HR’s Organization and Professional Development department at prodev@hr.msu.edu if you’d like further ideas. After you’ve had a chance to introduce job crafting to your own position and team, I’d love to hear your feedback. Contact me directly at margrave@hr.msu.edu to let me know how job crafting is working for you.

Recommended Resources

Note: all names used above are pseudonyms.

Sources

Carucci, R., Shappell, J. (2020). How to job craft as a team. https://hbr.org/2020/03/how-to-job-craft-as-a-team?ab=at_art_art_1x1

Dutton, J.E., Wrzesniewski, A., (2020). What job crafting looks like. Harvard Business Review. March 12, 2020. https://hbr.org/2020/03/what-job-crafting-looks-like

Wrzesniewski, A., LoBuglio, N., Dutton, J., and Berg, J.M., (2013). Job crafting and cultivating positive meaning and identity in work. Advances in Positive Organizational Psychology, Volume 1, 281–302.

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