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Job Crafting. The First Step to the Job of the Future

One of the most important skills for organizations to thrive in a rapidly changing world is flexibility, the ability to adapt quickly.

However, in organizations built on well-defined roles and traditional management models, introducing a culture of learning in action can sometimes be a lengthy process, and the remoteness of results over time can be demotivating.

It is then worth considering a series of smaller, point interventions that begin to shift the paradigm from the bottom up and lay the groundwork for more innovative change. One such opportunity is job crafting – a methodology related to agile management methodologies, but much simpler to implement.

Renaissance of craftsmanship

Crafted products and services are becoming increasingly popular. Tired of the widespread standardization promoted in recent decades, there is a renewed appreciation for handmade cheeses, beers from small workshops and shirts made to measure in family sewing rooms.

Personalization is a strong trend also in the context of the job market. Numerous studies have contributed to its popularity, confirming the benefits associated with this approach. Dr. Shane Lopez, a psychologist and researcher with The Don Clifton Strengths Institute, surveyed thousands of employees and found that what separates engaged workers from those who are simply trying to survive is their proactive customization of their own jobs [1]. “Good jobs are created, not found,” he said at a TED conference. [2]

A tailored role contributes to employee satisfaction, but can raise concerns for managers. So is it possible to move away from standardization without losing productivity?

What does personalization of the workplace bring?

Numerous studies confirm that when people feel a sense of empowerment and ownership at work, engage in what interests them and what they have a natural talent for, their productivity increases significantly. According to Gallup’s latest State of the Global Workplace 2021 Report [3], in the average organization, 20% of employees are engaged at work. In best practice organizations, this percentage increases by as much as 53%. Additionally, the motivation built in this way is much more durable and sustainable than that created using external factors, both financial and non-financial.

The difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is explained by the well-known self-determination theory. Based on this theory, psychology professors Edward Deci and Richard Ryan wrote an article that has had a staggering career – according to Google Scholar it has been cited over 37,000 times. They identify three basic psychological needs, the satisfaction of which results in intrinsic motivation. They are the needs for competence, autonomy and relationships.

Human beings can be proactive and engaged or, alternatively, passive and alienated, largely as a function of the social conditions in which they develop and function. Accordingly, research guided by self-determination theory has focused on the social-contextual conditions that facilitate versus forestall the natural processes of self-motivation and healthy psychological development. Specifically, factors have been examined that enhance versus undermine intrinsic motivation, self-regulation, and well-being. The findings have led to the postulate of three innate psychological needs–competence, autonomy, and relatedness–which when satisfied yield enhanced self-motivation and mental health and when thwarted lead to diminished motivation and well-being. Also considered is the significance of these psychological needs and processes within domains such as health care, education, work, sport, religion, and psychotherapy. [4]

Satisfaction, fulfillment, a sense of meaning – these are the fuel that makes people work more willingly and get above average results. So how do we put this into practice?

Job Crafting in practice

Amy Wrzesniewski and Jane Dutton studied the phenomenon of spontaneous job crafting and its impact on sense of meaning and satisfaction among employees of many different industries. Based on this, they proposed a model that helps organizations systemically implement bottom-up changes that result in the satisfaction of basic psychological needs.

We propose that employees craft their jobs by changing cognitive, task, and/or relational boundaries to shape interactions and relationships with others at work. These altered task and relational configurations change the design and social environment of the job, which, in turn, alters work meanings and work identity. We offer a model of job crafting that specifies (1) the individual motivations that spark this activity. (2) how opportunities to job craft and how individual work orientations determine the forms job crafting takes, and (3) its likely individual and organizational effects. [5]

Among other things, we base our workshops on the model proposed by Wrzesniewski and Dutton. See our workshop Job Crafting. Workshops for the Organizations of the Future.

Job crafting the first step to the job of the future

In the context of the technological arms race, typical human competencies as a competitive advantage will become increasingly important. Many organizations pride themselves on the fact that people are their most valuable resource. However, in order for this slogan not to remain an empty slogan inscribed in the mission statement, it is worth starting to encourage your employees to take real responsibility for their own careers, build self-awareness and proactively shape their own professional roles.

Job crafting is an approach that puts people at the center. Bottom-up shaping of work is possible when conscious managers provide it with appropriate conditions. In turn, its effects have a feedback effect on the culture of the organization, making it more resilient, even anti-brittle, in relation to the challenges of the future.


[1] Creating the Job You Love

[2] TED The secrets of people who love their jobs | Shane Lopez | TEDxLawrence

[3] Gallup State of the Global Workplace 2021 Report

[4] Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Beings

[5] Crafting a Job: Revisioning Employees as Active Crafters of Their Work; Amy Wrzesniewski and Jane E. Dutton

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