What impact is job crafting really having on your business?

By Robert Half on 20 August 2019

Have you heard of the term “job crafting”? Or perhaps you’ve even participated in it yourself during your career? This is a trend that seems to be growing in popularity and is certainly something you should be aware of.

This article explores what job crafting is, discusses what role it can play in your business and shares steps you should consider taking to foster only positive role changes in the future.

What is job crafting?

Job crafting is where employees proactively modify their role, aligning it to their strengths, passions and career goals in order to find more purpose and satisfaction in their work. They may achieve this by altering the tasks set to them, changing their relationships with others, or by adapting the way they think about work.

It can occur for several reasons. Employees may feel unengaged with their role and may want to find work that they are passionate about or that is more meaningful.

This process is happening across various roles, in many different businesses and industries. It’s not always noticeable, as employees tend to gradually adapt their role over time, rather than making radical, one-off changes.

What role does it play in business?

It’s easy to automatically think that job roles should not change. After all, as a manager, you set the role and therefore it’s reasonable to expect employees to follow the job description strictly.

It’s not that straight forward though.

Employees who are able to adapt their role can feel they have more purpose, and as a result are happier, more productive and more engaged. According to Robert Half’s “It’s time we all work happy” report, happy employees can be more resilient, loyal, can do better work, are healthier and much more. These outcomes can all have considerable advantages for your business.

Without a certain level of autonomy, employees may feel that the role doesn’t engage them, or they may become dissatisfied. This can lead to poor productivity and high staff turnover, affecting your business and its bottom-line.

It’s important to note that although the tasks of a job role may adapt, it doesn’t mean an employee’s original role no longer exists. An employee may modify their role in a way that means tasks are carried out more efficiently or provide additional benefit.

For example, a finance professional may take it upon themselves to provide valuable company insights, beyond just providing a financial report, or a specialist working in IT may continue to maintain the existing systems, but may engage more with other teams to see how technology can be improved to better serve them.

Of course, there are side effects that need to be considered too. Employees may end up taking on too much, which can lead to stress and the likelihood of errors occurring. Key tasks can also be overlooked or missed completely in the new “crafted” role. Goals between employees and the business can also become misaligned.

How can you foster positive job crafting?

As a manager, you can ensure employees are making positive changes, whilst avoiding any potential pitfalls. Here are some helpful steps you can consider following:

1. Set clear expectations

It’s unrealistic to expect change not to happen, so make sure you set clear expectations for employees. Ensure your team understand their role and the key tasks they must complete, the part their role plays in the overall business, plus what the business goals are that they are working towards.

2. Discuss changes with your employees

Instead of allowing a free-for-all, embrace this change, whilst being involved in the process. Sit down with employees and discuss with them the changes they want to make to their role. As a manager, you can ensure that necessary tasks are not overlooked and that the amended approaches still fits with the overall business objectives.

3. Get to know your employees

Take the time to understand your employees better. This can enable you to help tailor their role to suit them better, which can provide more purpose and job satisfaction. You may even be able to swap tasks between employees to make everyone happier.

4. Lead by example

By making a positive change to your own role, however small, this will have a big impact on your employees. By tweaking your own role, you may encourage your employees to make their own positive changes to their roles.

5. Adapt your workplace culture

Make sure you create a workplace culture that supports employees in adapting their role and seeking purpose in their work. This could be through having regular meetings to help employees see the bigger picture, running networking events, providing mentorship schemes, or offering upskilling opportunities.

Autonomy in a role is not something that managers should steer from, but rather should encourage to establish ownership for roles and responsibilities. When done correctly, job crafting is a powerful way to empower your employees, creating a more productive and engaged workforce, which in turn creates a more successful business.

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