Job Crafting: Inspiring Employees to Take Initiative—Boosting Employee Engagement in the Process

happy young woman in glasses standing near the window in office

Job crafting—the process by which employees take on tasks outside their defined role—helps your company innovate while boosting employee engagement.             

Carter Liebscher|
March 27, 2020

There’s a lot on employees’ and company leaders’ minds lately. Many are trying to have productive virtual workdays and continuing to accomplish tasks and drive mission statements amidst a downturn.

However, we believe that a similarly vital, long-term focus during this time is employee engagement. Specifically, engaging employees in such a way that they’re encouraged to think of and work toward tasks outside their originally defined role.

This effort is referred to as job crafting, which Psychology Today defines and describes as:

When employees alter their jobs in such a way as to better suit their skills and interests[,] thereby increasing their job satisfaction. By doing this, they are more committed to their work and to their employer.

“Job Crafting,” Katharine Brooks, Ed.D., Psychology Today

Considering job crafting’s positive effects on employee engagement, how can employers inspire their employees to creatively and personally alter their jobs while still accomplishing the tasks outlined in their originally outlined role? We’ve outlined a couple tips to help company leaders down below.

Ask employees about their strengths and weaknesses

It’s an interview cliche for a reason: Asking how employees view themselves and their skillsets is a straightforward way to help outline responsibilities and seed the possibilities of others in the future.

Setting up a one-on-one after they’ve gotten comfortable in their role, which generally takes between six and nine months, and asking how they’ve grown to accomplishing their tasks can better open the possibilities of new responsibilities as they come up in the organization.

Ask about personal projects and goals

You never know what your employees do in their free time until you ask. You might be surprised at the overlap between their hobbies and their role.

Often in interviews, candidates are asked to share their hobbies to help employers determine if you’re team-oriented, focused on improving your skills, and able to stick and reach personal goals. Regularly asking employees about their personal projects can forge a relationship based on authenticity, motivating them to bring overlapping skills to their role.

It might seem like a novelty for one of your accountants to also be a history buff, but they could bring their knack for trends over time to your organization’s new ventures department.

If your employees feel they can’t represent themselves authentically at work, though, your organization can miss out on unforeseen opportunities.

Encourage cross-departmental collaboration

Isolation is an innovation killer. Workers used to working within their department are missing out on valuable insight from subject matter experts and others in usually distant departments.

Employee collaboration is not just an effective way for organizations to develop new products and processes—it’s built-in to an organization’s hierarchy, so long as management allows it.

In one case, a Burt’s Bees employee, whose work required little interaction with other employees, personally reached out to the equipment engineers in order to learn more about their working processes. They took that information and outlined new onboarding processes for other equipment engineers. They are now completely in charge of that process—all because that employee was personally motivated and was encouraged by others to act on those interests.

In a time where employees are feeling are exceptionally vulnerable, it’s important for able companies to invest for the long-term—their employees—than simply focusing on short-term survival. Encouraging employees to craft their roles and responsibilities can hep your organization come out on the other side stronger than before.

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