On a grey Monday in April you may find yourself staring into oblivion, past what is waiting to be completed on your computer screen. Do you like your job? Of course. You just find it hard to stay motivated and complete tasks that aren’t always best suited to you.
The solution to this phenomenon, other than trawling through the #Mondaymotivation posts on twitter, is job crafting.
Job crafting is the technique ofactively altering the taskboundaries, cognitive task boundaries and relational boundaries of your position in order to redesign your work and achieve greater job satisfaction, without drastically changing your role.
The type or number of tasks you have, and how you perform them.
Cognitive Task Boundaries
How you perceive your job, or tasks within it.
Who you interact with within those tasks, and the nature of those interactions.
Making small changes to the boundaries of your role can make a big difference to both your day to day work life, and the direction your work could go in.
For example, you may find it particularly difficult to work with one of your colleagues on long term projects, but are perfectly happy to collaborate on shorter term ones. Therefore, you could alter the structure of your project (task boundaries) or how you perceive the structure of the project (cognitive task boundaries) to break it down into smaller chunks, which will enable you to work more effectively with your colleague in manageable portions, thus also changing relational boundaries.
Why should I job craft?
Research has shown that Job Crafting has a positive effect on engagement and well-being in the workplace.
According to something called the ‘Job Demands-Resources’ model of burnout, there are two key areas that contribute to employee stress, and ill-health. These are…
Job demands = aspects of a job that require sustained effort or skill i.e. the task itself
Job resources = aspects of a job that are used to achieve work goals, reduce job demands, and/or stimulate personal growth e.g. health protecting factors such as receiving feedback and rewards, having job control, job security, support from a supervisor and the opportunity for participation in tasks
The model suggests that high demands are related to exhaustion, whereas low resources are related to disengagement. When both of these occur simultaneously, this is known as burnout syndrome. Both of these job characteristics are things that can be helped with job-crafting in order to protect us from excessive stress.
Research shows that job crafting to increase the resources available in one's position leads to increased job satisfaction, engagement, and decreased burnout. As it may be more difficult to craft the demands of our role directly (depending on the organisation), another study found that instead, viewing stressors in a positive light and seeing them as challenges to overcome was associated with higher work engagement. Research has also shown that engaged employees work harder and are more innovative than their (less engaged) colleagues.
Job crafting is also particularly useful for navigating organisational change, and those already proficient in job crafting will find structural or technical changes more positive and show a higher readiness to change.
The simple reason to job craft is so that you can mould your job, even slightly, into something that you enjoy more. This will make you more productive and motivated to perform well, and encourage your personal development.
How can I job craft?
Job crafting will inevitably be unique to an individual, and will depend on the existing demands of your role and company culture. However, the techniques below are simply ways you can make small changes to help align your interests and motivations with your daily tasks, or at least get you thinking about it.
Identify the parts or tasks in your day you enjoy the most and find the most meaningful, perhaps before starting your to do list for the day think about which task you're most excited about doing. Why is this?
Find ways to emphasize these in your role, this could be as simple as talking to your line manager or getting involved in other similar projects going on in the office
Re-design the tasks you don’t like as much, what exactly don’t you like about them? Can you change the way they are completed or make them easier in order to minimise the time you spend on them?
Perhaps certain tasks become easier when broken up with other things you enjoy. Consider the combination of your tasks and responsibilities. Is there enough variation? Or too much?
Think about why you interact with the people you do, whether this is colleagues, customers or clients. Do you interact with some people more during certain tasks? How does this influence the task process?
Take steps to improve your relationship with those you interact with regularly. Or find ways to make your interactions more meaningful
Think about whom your work impacts, who are you helping? If this provides you with motivation, then do more of it
Which aspects of your work do you enjoy the least? Is there a way you could look at these differently? For example, perhaps you don’t enjoy performing the task itself but the outcome is satisfying. Is it a necessary part of a wider goal or benefit?
Thinking about issues like this could result in lots of small shifts in the way you work, and over time result in changes to the nature of your work.
How do psychometrics fit in?
If you have a more accurate understanding of what makes you enjoy the work you do, or the way you tend to work, it will be easier to engage in job crafting by altering boundaries to fit in line with your preferred working style. In a similar way, if others around you have a more accurate insight into your preferences and behaviour it can be easier, as a line manager for example, to help facilitate job crafting.
Personality questionnaires can offer this through asking simple, direct and occupationally relevant questions to get you thinking about your job. At Criterion we can also offer reports designed to explore this further, and dig out more information.
Our personality assessments (offered through our psychometric assessments platform Psycruit) offers insight into 5 layers of personality; interpersonal style, thinking style, emotional style, motivations and culture fit. All of these provide clarity on different aspects of the muddled world of introspection.
This blog was inspired by a talk at the DOP 2019 conference by Evangelia Demerouti and largely based on a paper she was part of; ‘Crafting a job on a daily basis: Contextual correlates and the link to work engagement’ published in the Journal of Organisational Behaviour.