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Job Crafting: Creating Changes to Make Work Enjoyable

Job Crafting: Creating Changes to Make Work Enjoyable

LIM Myoung-Ki

Apr. 30, 2013

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Most employees in Korea perceive work merely as a means of earning money. This is attributable to a larger trend within Korean society that puts higher priority on extrinsic rewards rather than intrinsic ones like self-fulfillment. Given this reality, a new concept called "job crafting" is increasingly coming to the fore. Job crafting refers to actions by employees to make their work more meaningful by altering the tasks and relationships that they normally pursue. In job crafting, employees initiate and carry out proactive changes in their work and in their relationships with others, in contrast to "job design," which refers to the traditional top-down process of managers devising employees' duties, responsibilities and working conditions. Job crafting allows individuals to enhance control over their work and gain self-esteem, while helping their organizations to improve performance.

There are three main approaches in effective job crafting. The first approach involves adjusting task boundaries and levels of perceived task difficulty. Even in low-autonomy jobs, employees can change the number of tasks or modify difficulty within the scope of their own discretion. A perceived fit between one's capabilities and the difficulty of work is instrumental to lifting the level of concentration on the task at hand. Furthermore, new opportunities can arise when employees continuously devote attention to work that invokes their interests and abilities, even if it is not originally part of the job description. The second approach involves altering the nature or extent of interactions with people. Employees can reshape their relationships with colleagues or customers to play personally meaningful roles. A hair stylist, for example, functions primarily to provide hair services, but can act secondarily as a marketer by building friendly relationships with customers. The third approach to job crafting involves conferring positive meaning on work. This kind of cognitive crafting occurs by redefining the impact or purpose of their jobs in a broader, deeper or higher context. Custodial workers at Disneyland, for example, take great pride in keeping the theme park clean because they perceive their job as "setting up for parades."

For successful job crafting, it is important that job crafters understand that changes made to their work and their job descriptions are not just for themselves, but also can bring value to their colleagues and organizations. CEOs or leaders should endeavor to create meaningful goals for their employees, rather than just emphasizing financial performance. Small considerations or extensions of recognition from higher-ups can be effective in helping employees find meaning in their work. For their part, companies need to make effort to let their employees discover jobs commensurate with their own aptitudes by offering job rotation programs.

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