How to reframe your purpose and create more satisfaction with job crafting

In our last post, we looked at how true job satisfaction may be more within your control than you think. We’re going to introduce you to a great practical tool to help anybody turn the job they have into one that offers more job satisfaction, and increased commitment to both the job and the employer.

The term ‘job crafting’ was coined by Professor Jane Dutton and Dr Amy Wrzesniewski after a study they did with hospital workers, in which she found that janitors who saw their jobs as making a difference, and themselves as part of the healthcare team, were able to add something to their job that benefited the patients, the hospital and themselves. You can read about the background to job crafting here and here.


Job crafting involves examining the tasks you do and where your energy at work is spent, and then rearranging them. Start by looking at three aspects of your self:

Motives – what drives you?

Strength – what do you do well?

Passion – what do you really want to do?

Then look at your job and the tasks you do now.  How much of your time does each task consume? How does that align with your motives, strengths and passions?

Now see how you can rearrange to suit your motives, strengths and passions, in these three ways:

By tasks. Can you change the tasks you do? This could be as simple as starting the day with a task you enjoy, or finding a faster way to do something you find boring. Can you realistically add extra tasks to your workload? Job crafting doesn’t mean not doing what you were hired to do!

By relationships. Can you change your relationships with colleagues in a way that improves your work day?  This may involve collaborating more closely with existing colleagues or reaching out to others in the workplace, either socially or on work tasks.            

By perception. This usually means seeing your job as a whole rather than a series of tasks. Like the hospital janitors in the study, see the larger purpose of your work; how your job or your product makes a difference.

In reality, you will find that these are not entirely separate, and one form of job crafting can set off another form. For example, you may identify that your passion is social media, and your strength is building great user interfaces. You find three extra hours in your week to work on an app that allows staff to share success stories by means of captioned photos. To build it, you work with somebody from another team and an external developer, with whom you become friendly. Your satisfaction score soars, because you can see your job as connecting people and sharing exciting, motivating moments, rather than updating sales spreadsheets and reporting data. Task, relationship and perception have all changed to suit your perceptions. (And of course you first persuaded your manager that the three hours a week were aligned with her goal of implementing innovations in team communication.)

The first and possibly the most important step in job crafting, though, is to make the time to step back and consider your motives, strengths and passions and how you can craft your job to suit them better.  After noting that over half of employees are not happy with what they do, Dutton and Wrzesniewski noted that, ‘Emphasizing enjoyment can boost efficiency by lowering turnover rates and jacking up productivity. Job crafting gives you the chance to turn this situation around.’

Really, everybody wins.