What is job crafting?

At a time where job security is scarce, those of us in employment may be feeling grateful and hesitant to rock the boat. Yes, the pandemic has seen some people make big shifts in their careers, but others are hunkering down, staying in positions that perhaps don’t fit quite right. Like ill-fitting shoes, they pinch with every step – but they keep our feet protected.

But what if there was another way? What if we could take those ill-fitting shoes, gather some tools and shape them to fit us better? This is where job crafting steps in.

The concept was introduced by professor Amy Wrzesniewski and Jane Dutton in 2001, who say there are three key areas – task crafting, relationship crafting, and cognitive crafting – which can help us take proactive steps in our career in order to get more fulfilment from our work. 

Of course, certain industries and roles have more wiggle-room than others, but we can all refresh our perspective and discover meaning in places we’d overlooked before.

Task crafting

This process encourages you to look at the elements of your role you really enjoy, to see how you can hone in on them and add meaning to your work. When you take this initiative, you get the chance to broaden your skillset as you actively seek new opportunities. 

How to do it:

Career and confidence coach Natalie Trice suggests looking at your role, what you enjoy and what you could add to bring a new dimension to your work.

“If you’re a teacher, it could be that you would love to get more creative in the classroom and run some multimedia sessions. Speak to your manager, talk over the progress you’ve made to date and where you would like to further your career, as well bringing more meaning to your role, and the organisation.”

Natalie notes that as well as giving you space to progress, the act of reflecting on how far you’ve come can positively impact your confidence. 

Relationship crafting

The interactions we have at work can make a big difference to how engaged and happy we feel. The idea is to rethink how and even who we interact with. This could mean shaking up the usual forms of communication you use, or seeking new opinions and voices. 

How to do it:

Many of us have had to get to grips with virtual meetings in the past year, but even when you’re working remotely there’s scope for change. Why not try a walk and talk, calling a colleague while out in the fresh air? Being in a different environment can spark creativity.

Getting to know others outside your usual circle can open you up to fresh perspectives, too. Consider starting a lunch-time club where you can get together and chat about a subject you all care about, or start a skill swap initiative to learn something new! 

Cognitive crafting

When we’re able to change our perspective, we can find and create meaning in our work, seeing it in ways we had never considered before. 

There are lots of factors that play into job satisfaction, including your working environment and fair pay, but for many of us having a sense that what we do has a real impact on others is key to feeling fulfilled. Appreciating the value your work has and actively seeking this value out is the aim of the game when it comes to cognitive crafting.  

How to do it:

“Changing your mindset is possible, but it takes work and dedication,” says Natalie.

“It is worth it, as it can help you to see problems in a new light, and to approach dilemmas in a more positive, productive way. 

“Finding three good things at the end of each day can really help. Over time, your brain will start to look for those things during the day and you will be surprised at just how many goods things are actually happening.” 

You could also try journaling on the following questions to tap into the value you’re adding:

  • What positive impact is the company you work for having on others?
  • How are you contributing to this?
  • How does your work impact others – colleagues or customers?
  • How can you remind yourself of the value your role offers?

Getting support 

Navigating our careers can feel tough, which is why some choose to work with a career coach, who can support you in an unbiased and non-judgmental way. 

“My role isn’t to tell someone what to do, but to partner with them and ask powerful questions that can help them connect the dots and move ahead in a way that is positive and meaningful for them,” Natalie explains.

However you choose to get support, dedicating time to job crafting can go a long way in helping you feel happier day-to-day. We spend on average 3,507 days at work during our lifetimes and I don’t know about you, but I don’t intend to spend that time in shoes that pinch.

This article was originally published in Happiful Magazine (May 2021). You can order print copies online, or read the e-magazine for free on the Happiful app

If you think it would be helpful to work with a career coach to help you feel more fulfilled, use our search tool to find a coach today.

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Written by Kat Nicholls
Kat is a Senior Writer for Life Coach Directory and Happiful magazine.
Written by Kat Nicholls
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