Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. (Confucius)


As the above quote illustrates, in an ideal world, employees should work in jobs that make them happy. In this context, organisational research has shown how managers can redesign the jobs of employees through top-down processes. Specifically, when employees perceive to have larger amounts of autonomy, identity, variety, significance, and feedback in their jobs, they tend to enjoy their jobs more and perform better. However, we also know that idiosyncratic needs of employees in regard to how their work should be designed are often not considered in a top-down job design approach, preventing employees from executing a job they love. In job design, management simply cannot cater to all needs and one size does not fit all. Instead, our research shows that that to meet their own individual needs, employees may take it upon themselves to change their own jobs under their own initiative to increase their meaningfulness of their own job – they engage in job crafting. In particular, our research shows that employees often think about and focus on the following aspects of their jobs as they start to initiate changes:


  • Their core work tasks – job crafters show initiative in changing the nature of their own work tasks, by increasing or reducing the number and difficulty of tasks they work on. For example, sales assistant might themselves show initiative in aiming to be given greater responsibility in dealing with customers, or in taking on a more complex project.


  • The social relationships with others at work – job crafters often, independent of their formal requirements in the job, also change who they spend time with at work, which networks to forge and people to spend more vs. less time with. For example, a teacher might choose to enhance the meaningfulness of his/her job by learning more about their students’ background, and by forging more trustful relationships with their colleagues.


  • The skills they use at work – here, job crafters focus on specific skills they want to hone in their job, or they choose to branch out to become a more general expert in their job. For example, a consultant might choose to take on new projects that broaden his/her experience in different industries, or to stay more focused on becoming an expert in a particular type of industry/client.


  • The way they think about their work and their organization, overall – finally, job crafters may simply change the way they think about the role of their work, so this form represents a more cognitive change to one’s job. For example, a hospital cleaner may start to think of themselves as being part of the medical team in caring for patients’ well-being, rather than as a contractor who cleans surfaces.


Our research shows across different occupations in the UK that employees of all walks are likely to engage in job crafting at some point in their jobs. Importantly, whichever area employees focus on as they become job crafters has important implications for the way they perform at work: Interestingly, our research suggests that cognitive crafting – so simply thinking about one’s role at work and in the organization in a different way, has overall very positive links to enhancing employees’ own job satisfaction, as well as seems to spur performance at work, too. In contrast, the effects of behavioural job crafting, of changing one’s own tasks, skills and relationships at work, may be beneficial in some organizational circumstances, however, it may backfire in others. – In turn, while employees likely intuitively become job crafters in their work, we recommend that management needs to try and understand employees’ job crafting in order to help guide such efforts and promote the effectiveness of such efforts.


In sum, management needs to rethink its role: to motivate employees and improve performance, it may be important to take on an overall facilitator role to enable and guide employees’ active job crafting efforts in organizationally desirable ways. As employees are likely to become job crafters intuitively, and because more generic job design likely does not entirely fit idiosyncratic needs of employees, rather than trying to set in stone employees’ pre-determined jobs, especially if the work environment is dynamic and organisational demands are changing rapidly, management may be well advised to allow employees the flexibility to become job crafters in their own right, to foster motivation and performance.


Bindl, U.K., Unsworth, K, and Gibson, C. (2018). Job Crafting Revisited: How needs and moods influence active changes at work. Working paper, LSE.