How Job Crafting can drive employee engagement | S1 E12

First published: 25 August, 2020

Play this episode now:

Series 1
Series 1
How Job Crafting can drive employee engagement | S1 E12

Job Crafting as an Employee Engagement Strategy

In this episode of Engaging Internal Comms, The Big Picture People’s Craig Smith talks to Rob Baker about Job Crafting.

Rob’s business is Tailored Thinking, a positive-thinking, well-being and HR consultancy, with a vision of being a force for good in the world of work. Rob is passionate about bringing evidence-based, science-informed ideas into practice within organisations.

During this conversation, listeners are introduced to the concept and provided with a framework that covers why it delivers greater employee engagement, how to implement the practice within a team or organisation, and the elements that make it so successful.

What is Job Crafting?

As a concept and employee engagement strategy, Job Crafting had its roots in research conducted by Jen Dutton and Amy Wrzesniewski in 2001. They found that how hospital cleaners described their work fell into two broad categories:

  • Those who said they were menial, low-level, low-paid jobs
  • Those who described their roles as providing a healthy, sterile environment which is fundamental to patient care

Dutton and Wrzesniewski learned that the reason for these different views is seated in how the cleaners surveyed did small things differently – subtle things that made a difference to others, making connections to patients and creating a more positive environment. They coined the term ‘Job Crafting’, and their findings have been confirmed in around 140 studies since.

Rob describes Job Crafting thus:

Making changes in the way that you do your job, the tasks, relationships, and how you think about your job, to make it a better, more comfortable fit, and to bring your passions and your strengths to life within the work that you’re doing.”

He provides a graphic analogy of Job Crafting, saying that, “It’s a bit like thinking about your job as a semi-tailored suit – the basic style and structure is there, but there are small changes that you can make to make the suit a better fit for you.

(You can also watch Amy Wrzesniewski talking about job crafting on this video.)

Why does it deliver improved employee engagement?

Job crafting is not about wholesale job design nor changing expected outcomes, but about personalising how we work. When we personalise aspects of our jobs, we tend to value them more, receive greater job satisfaction, and feel more engaged and fulfilled in our jobs. It provides the autonomy, mastery, and purpose described by Dan Pink as essential motivators.

Compelling evidence is growing that when organisations bring Job Crafting into their strategy in a high-quality and well-considered way, it leads to short-term and long-term benefits in three key areas:

  • The performance of individuals, teams, and the organisation
  • Career progression and career satisfaction
  • Well-being and engagement, lower levels of stress, etc.

How can you implement Job Crafting?

While there are many ways to introduce and implement this, Rob describes the following as being prime strategies:

  • Supporting implementation through training and development, bringing job crafting to life through workshops and other mechanisms
  • One-to-ones, utilising check-ins and review processes that are already in place, with managers and leaders encouraged to talk about how individuals can improve their jobs

People can grasp Job Crafting quite quickly and bringing it to life encourages people to experiment with it.

Rob also advises to start small, enabling people to consider ways in which they can personalise and improve tasks and working relationships, make their work healthier, and connect to their skills and purpose.

For the strategy to work effectively, it’s necessary to be specific about what to change and why – then set goals, come back together after a month, and share goals, successes and challenges with others. This leads to people telling their stories about how they have crafted their jobs, and creates transformational energy. “They’re the things that people talk about afterwards,” says Rob. “They’re the things that inspire others.

Is there a barrier to using this as an employee engagement strategy?

The results that Rob has had are highly impressive. He has helped thousands of employees to achieve their goals, with an 87% success rate, and 96% of ‘students’ saying they have benefited from making small changes to their jobs. However, he does describe one major barrier to success.

The ability of managers to lead this conversation. Managers must have a genuine people focus. It backfires if on one hand you encourage people in job crafting but at line manager level this is not supported – this is worse than not job crafting in the first place,” Rob explains.

The evidence in favour of job crafting is compelling. The return on your investment in terms of innovation, creativity and engagement is dramatic.

Useful Links:

Tailored Thinking website: https://tailoredthinking.co.uk/

Rob’s LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rjmbaker/

Rob’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/bakerrjm?lang=en

Questions, comments or suggestions

Do you have a question that you want answered in an upcoming episode? Do you have an idea that will help to make our podcast better? Let us know by using the form below.

Podcast question form

More episodes

Series 1

Ready to learn more about The Big Picture People?