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How can crafting your job improve your wellbeing, performance and meaning at work?

By Jessica Londei-Shortall

Preface

Sometimes, individuals need to change jobs to find their calling. Other times, they simply need to perform a few little tweaks to improve your meaning at work and general wellbeing. My doctoral thesis aimed to answer three main questions:

  • Which aspects of their jobs can employees control and modify (or craft)?
  • Which job crafting behaviors are the most important in predicting psychological health at work, person-job fit and performance?
  • What are the personal and organizational conditions that help or hinder job crafting?

 

1) Based on a review of previous literature (Tims, Bakker et Derks, 2012; Wrzesniewski et Dutton, 2001) and empirical results, I have found 5 types of job crafting behaviors:

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Furthermore, although all five job crafting behaviors aim to expand and increase the stimulating opportunities for the employee, two (task and relational crafting) can also aim to reduce the exhausting elements in the employees work.

2) Our first results indicate that cognitive crafting, developmental crafting and task crafting are the most important in fostering positive outcomes, namely well-being, meaning at work and performance, similar to what has been found in the literature (Bakker, Tims et Derks, 2012; Slemp et vella-Brodrick, 2013). However, these behaviors they did not significantly contribute to reducing burnout or increasing person-job fit.

3) Furthermore, we found that having access to more resources, such as autonomy and the capacity to use their competences at work, increased employees’ propensity to job craft, regardless of individual personality traits such as proactive personality or positive temperament. Thus, job crafting is self-initiated, but it can be fostered in a supportive work environment, and isn’t determined by personality.

Practically, to increase meaning at work, career counselors may help their client identify:

  • Tasks they could modify or add to incorporate their strengths, interests and passions in their job
  • Ways in which their job has a positive impact on others (colleagues, …) and on society in general
  • Opportunities they can explore to develop their competences in their current role.

 

This would seem to have more impact than changing the relationships at work or reducing the workload. A helpful exercise is to identify the current situation (tasks, etc.), and after identifying the client’s interests and strengths, see how these can be incorporated into the current role to reach the ideal job description.

Jessica Londei-Shortall is a Ph.D candidate in organisational psychology at Université de Montréal. Her aim is to help students and employees discover and develop their potential. Other than working her thesis on job crafting, she is on the executive team of the work and organisation’s division of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA), and a volunteer for Dans La Rue, an organisation serving hot-dogs and warm beverages for Montreal’s at-risk youth.

References:

Bakker, A. B., Tims, M. et Derks, D. (2012). Proactive personality and job performance: The role of job crafting and work engagement. Human Relations, 65(10), 1359-1378. doi: 10.1177/0018726712453471

Slemp et vella-Brodrick. (2013). Optimising Employee Mental Health: The Relationship Between Intrinsic Need Satisfaction, Job Crafting, and Employee Well-Being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1-21. doi: 10.1007/s10902-013-9458-3

Tims, M., Bakker, A. B. et Derks, D. (2012). Development and validation of the job crafting scale. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80(1), 173-186. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2011.05.009

Wrzesniewski, A. et Dutton, J. E. (2001). Crafting a Job: Revisioning Employees as Active Crafters of Their Work. Academy of Management Review, 26(2), 179-201. doi: 10.5465/amr.2001.4378011

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