Job Crafting and Job Enrichment

See also: Developing a Personal Vision: Defining Success

Personal development, and particularly skills development, is not always a matter of going outside your job or workplace for a course or a mentor. Sometimes it is possible to change your job to provide you with the personal development opportunities you want or need. You may be able to do this yourself, or it may need the support of your manager.

This approach recognises that we are all individuals, with individual needs—and that very few jobs have absolutely fixed tasks or responsibilities. There is usually scope to tweak jobs and tasks to fit individuals’ skills and development needs.

This page discusses two possible approaches to tailoring your job to fit your needs. These are known as job crafting and job enrichment.

Defining Job Crafting and Job Enrichment

Job crafting is the art of tailoring your job to fit your skills.

In other words, it is about shaping your job to fit you: your skills, your values, and what you want to do. It is very much an individual process, although it may need line manager agreement.

The idea behind job crafting is that many jobs are inherently flexible. They require a broad set of skills. However, how those skills are used, and the emphasis put on each task, may vary by postholder. As the postholder, you can therefore subtly change the job to focus on the areas that interest you most. You may, for example, want to use particular skills to best advantage. You may also want to develop a new skill area or improve your ability in one area.

Job enrichment is the process of enhancing a job to make it more attractive to the person in it.

It can therefore be done by others—a manager or supervisor, for example, as a way to increase personal motivation. However, it can also be part of a process of personal development, carried out by an individual together with their manager.

This process recognises that even the most exciting and fulfilling job can become dull over time. It is a process of adding tasks and/or skill requirements to jobs to keep them challenging and interesting.

A Process for Job Crafting

If you want to change your job to better fit your skills, you may find it helpful to go through a simple but defined process:

1. Decide what you want to change

There are three main areas to consider:

  • Task content is changing what you actually do day to day. This is about creating opportunities to use and showcase your existing skills.

  • Relationships is about how, and how much, you interact with other people during your working day. You might want more or less contact, or contact with different people.

  • Finally, purpose is about your impact at work, and the effect of what you do. This might be an actual change, but it is more likely to be about reframing your work, to set it better into the context of the organisation (remember the story of the janitor at NASA who, when asked about his job, said that he was ‘helping to put a man on the moon’?)

TOP TIP! Think small rather than big

You have to recognise that you were hired to do a particular job. You are therefore not going to be able to change your job completely to make it a different job.

The key with job crafting is to focus on making small changes within your defined job responsibilities that will improve your working life and motivation, but also have a positive impact on the organisation.

2. Assess the impact of your planned changes

Your next step is to consider the effect of your planned changes: on you, on those around you, and on the organisation.

You cannot simply decide to change your job unilaterally because it suits you. You are not the only person in the organisation.

Instead, you need to be sure that what you propose to do will not have any negative effects on those around you. You need to look for win–win options: those where your proposed change is better for you, and also improves the organisation and/or makes life better or easier for your colleagues.

WARNING! Be particularly careful about those in your direct line management chain

When job crafting, you do need to be particularly careful about those whom you manage, or those who manage you. They will be directly affected.

It is sensible and helpful to discuss proposed changes with them first, or to warn them that you want to try something new. You should also seek feedback from them as you put the change into place to make sure that they are not negatively affected.

It is often a good idea to discuss your suggested changes with your line manager.

You may want to explain that you think that they will improve your motivation, as well as helping the organisation. However, you don’t usually need to wait for permission, as long as your job performance does not suffer, and you still get all the required elements and work completed.

3. Put your change in place

The third step is to simply make your change. Start doing your new activity, and see what happens.

4. Review and amend if necessary

As with any personal development activity, it follows that you should review your change after a while: a month, perhaps, and again after three and six months. At this point, it is wise to look at both how you feel about the change, and also how others have reacted and been affected. You should also look for any evidence of improvement in the organisation: for example, faster time to complete a process, or better communication.

You may need to take active steps to seek feedback from your manager and colleagues. People often don’t have the time or inclination to provide unsolicited feedback.

Understanding Job Enrichment

When seeking to enrich your job, there are five main factors to consider. These have been found to affect people’s enjoyment of work, and feelings of motivation. They are:

  • Skill variety: using more skills is both more challenging and more rewarding.

  • Task identity: performing whole tasks, rather than just part, is generally more enjoyable and motivating.

  • Task significance: we all prefer to have work that has a real impact on the organisation’s aims.

  • Autonomy: we generally value more ability to control our own work, and being able to make decisions about how we achieve objectives.

  • Feedback: getting more recognition for achievements, including how well our work is communicated to others, generally increases motivation and enjoyment.

However, some people suggest that the most important factors are simply having autonomy over our work, being good at it, and having a sense of purpose.

This suggests, therefore, that the real focus of job enrichment is NOT having more tasks to do. Yes, that would increase the challenge and variety of the work. However, the most important factor is providing more control over how the work is done.

This links back to job crafting, and the importance of tailoring your work to fit your skills and development needs.

Some possible options for job enrichment that you may be able to suggest as the postholder include:

  • Job rotation, where you exchange tasks with a colleague on a regular basis so that you both develop new skills. Obviously, your colleague needs to be on board with this! However, this option may be helpful if your organisation and/or manager is not very open to changing your job, but both of you want new opportunities.

  • Combining tasks to increase task identity.

  • Seeking out the opportunity to work on a project team for a defined period to get more experience in a particular area. This may require some changes of responsibility to reduce your work tasks in your existing job, but it can be a very good option during a quiet period.

  • Take up opportunities to get involved in strategic planning, such as organisation-wide consultation events or focus groups. These can increase your visibility, and may lead to other opportunities at a later date.

In each case, think about how you could make a strong business case for the change. Emphasise the benefits to the organisation (and not just to you) to highlight why the change matters.

There is more about this in our page on Writing a Business Case.

A final thought

Both job crafting and job enrichment offer significant potential to improve your job satisfaction and therefore your motivation. They can also be good tools for personal development. However, both need care to ensure that your proposed changes will not adversely affect others or the organisation.

The key is to find win–win options, that benefit everyone, including you.