Job Crafting: A Key in Driving High-Performance Culture

by | Sep 11, 2020

Motivating employees is an age-old quest. We often ask ourselves, what are the key factors in driving high-performance culture? How can we increase their satisfaction and engagement with the work they do? How can we retain the best talent?

Amy Wrzesniewski, a professor of organisational behaviour at the Yale School of Management, coined the term “job crafting,” which is defined as “the physical and cognitive changes individuals make to the task or relational boundaries of their work” (Wrzesniewski and Dutton 2001, p. 179).

Simply put, job crafting is changing the way we view work and in some cases the work itself. Since it’s debut into the world of business in 2010, employers have been implementing job crafting into the workforce to create a better fit between employees and demands of the job.

A worker who works for the weekend is checked out before they ever punched in. One such reason for this behaviour is a lack of autonomy over daily tasks. Authorship, even partially, over the duties of the job can increase engagement. Feeling seen in the workplace can have drastic consequences.

According to Wrzesniewski’s research “Fortune 500 companies to small nonprofits—indicates that employees (at all levels, in all kinds of occupations) who try job crafting often end up more engaged and satisfied with their work lives, achieve higher levels of performance in their organisations, and report greater personal resilience.”

What does the data say?

    • Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work (Forbes)
    • Highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability (Forbes)
    • Disengaged employees cost U.S. companies up to $550 billion a year (Forbes)
    • Burned-out employees are 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job, 63% more likely to take a sick day, and 23% more likely to visit the emergency room (APA)
    • Gallup found the top five reasons for burnout are:
        • Unfair treatment at work
        • Unmanageable workload
        • Lack of role clarity
        • Lack of communication and support from their manager
        • Unreasonable time pressure

How does it work? 

Job crafting allows employees to gain a sense of control over their work by adding personal touches on how they see and do their job. Redefining a role within the company rather than leaving it, incorporating personal motives, strengths, and passions to increase satisfaction and commitment to the company.

It can take many different forms such as:

  • Changing the number, scope, and type of job tasks
Adding or dropping tasks, adjusting the time or effort spent on various tasks, and redesigning aspects of tasks.
  • Changing the quality and/or amount of interaction with others on the job
Creating and/or sustaining relationships with others at work, spending more time with preferred individuals.
  • Changing cognitive boundaries (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001)
Employees’ efforts to perceive and interpret their tasks, relationships, or job as a whole in ways that change the significance of their work

Here are some examples of job crafting to help you understand it more:

A Project Engineer Before Crafting:

  • Completes engineering projects by organising and controlling project elements
  • Determines project benchmarks and assigns personnel to relevant tasks
  • Completes technical studies and prepares cost estimates
  • Maintains safe and clean working environment by enforcing procedures, rules, and regulations
After Job Crafting:

  • Role: Demonstrates leadership and organisational skills by overseeing the engineering and technical disciplines needed to complete a project. Works creatively to plan projects, establish project criteria, coordinate project reviews, and ensure the proper implementation of project elements.
  • Designs project MVPs to help the company excel based on research and analysis of the target market 
  • Determines project specifications by studying product design, customer requirements, and performance standards
  • Establishes project benchmarks and collaborates with team members to ensure the right people are working on the right tasks
  • Prepares project status reports by collecting, analysing, and summarising information and trends; recommending actions
  • Maintains safe and clean working environment by enforcing procedures, rules, and regulations
  • Speaks regularly with customers to gain insight into new avenues and how to improve older products
A Marketing Assistant Before Job Crafting:

  • Assisting in the development and distribution of marketing and promotional material
  • Data entry and analysis
  • Helping conduct and collate findings from market research
  • Writing targeted content for website and blogs

After Job Crafting:

  • Role: Dedicated to ensuring that the company brand is presented consistently, campaigns are delivered to deadline, and that the company remains visible in the market.
  • Researching and writing interesting content for website and blogs as well as communicating with customers on social media
  • Collaborate with sales to guarantee the target market is being engaged and information supplied in a clear and creative fashion
  • Reporting on success by monitoring key metrics
  • Helping conduct and collate findings from market research
A Research and Development Manager Before Job Crafting:

  • Plan, coordinate, and execute assigned research projects.
  • Present research findings to management in an understandable manner
  • Organise and store relevant data and information
  • Attend team meetings to stay up to date on company initiatives
  • Works 9-5 Monday-Friday

After Job Crafting:

  • Role: Bridging the gap between consultants and researchers
  • Determine topics of interest for the company and gather data on how to best utilise them
  • Present findings in a clear and creative way for maximum impact
  • Collaborate with other departments on joint projects
  • Meet with prospective clients to share information on services offered
  • Help to design various programs
  • Write up content for the website and other promotional platforms
  • Determines hours each week based on workload and set goals

5 ways to get started job crafting

  1. Start asking questions to get to know your employees!
    1. How do their values align with the companies?
    2. What skills do they have that can be applied creatively to their work?
    3. What areas did they wish they were contributing to more?
    4. Ask how they think the company could be improved. Do they have any ideas for projects?
  2. To go big, go small, start by having 20% (approximately one workday a week) of each employee’s job description determined by the employee themselves.
  3. Instil trust into your team by granting them more autonomy over their daily tasks.
  4. Recognise those who take initiative and are self-driven.
  5. Be open-minded to a “non-traditional” way of working, innovation is often a bit unsettling at first. Give yourself a chance to adjust.

Job crafting is not a one-time event. It is a process you continuously engage with. Think of elements of the job—people, technology, raw materials, daily tasks—as building blocks that can be customised to create the ideal position for each employee.

Always start with the why and ask what about the work is meaningful to the employee. What excites them? Creativity and innovation do not happen in a box. If you confine employees too much by their job title, you may be missing out on some of their best assets.

Need help with job crafting? Head to our Corporate Labs and we will help you create a high-performance culture

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