Source | LinkedIn : By Chhandak Tarafdar
Do you think a hospital janitor can love his work? Well, a study in 2001 revealed that some of them do. Although they performed the same set of prescribed tasks as others who disliked being a janitor (not among the most desired professions), it became apparent that they had changed the prescribed task list to include additional activities and engaged in frequent interactions with patients and visitors. This group saw the value of their work as being directly linked to the recovery and general well being of a patient. Very similar to the oft-cited story of the janitor at NASA who told President Kennedy that he was helping put a man on moon.
This is one example of employees crafting their own job a.k.a job crafting defined by the researchers “as the physical and cognitive changes individuals make in the task or relational boundaries of their work”. Many examples are available in perceived low value jobs where the performers have suitably crafted the job to align with their motivations, strengths and passions. Hairdressers have associated their work with creativity and building long term relationship with clients. IT technicians bringing back computer systems to normalcy through articulation and interactions with multiple teams see themselves as trouble shooters in the organization.
The above examples are not very common though. Job engagement surveys reveal an often ignored detail. Employee engagement varies widely across job types. Nature of the job plays a key role. Results reveal that workers in service or manufacturing or production jobs are least engaged. This could be attributed to the repetitive tasks performed in such jobs and perceived low value add from an individual task. The performer often fails to see their own value add in the larger goal being achieved. Number of such jobs is increasing in emerging economies and the median age of workers in them is reducing owing to the demographic dividend in such economies. This leads to the observation that millennials have relatively low engagement at work. A worrying sign and a good reason to encourage job crafting in work places. But what is stopping us?