Whistle While You Work: Actions of Experienced Job Crafters

Whistle While You Work: Actions of Experienced Job Crafters

Article and Author Information

Michelle Campbell (MSLOC 2015) wrote this article in March 2015 as the culmination of her time in the Master of Science in Learning and Organizational Change Program. Michelle joined the program as a full-time student in 2013 in order to transition into organizational change and development from her previous experience in aviation and higher education. During her time in the MSLOC program, she worked as the MSLOC Educational Technology and Community Manager Graduate Assistant, and also interned during the summer of 2014 at Allstate Insurance Company. Michelle is currently helping to build out and implement her classmates' work from the MSLOC Practicum 2014-2015 engagement with Lurie Children's Hospital. In addition, she was able to put her Capstone research into practice and works with the B-Corp Imperative to help individuals find greater purpose and fulfillment in their work through nation-wide research studies, assessments, and client engagements. Michelle is passionate about finding what fulfills people most in the workplace and helping others develop into the best versions of themselves.

Abstract

In an age where employees are becoming increasingly disengaged at work, the concept of job crafting has been developed to help employees gain more control over their professional lives. Job crafting describes the process by which employees alter the tasks, relationships, or perceptions of their jobs in order to bring more purpose and fulfillment to their work. In an ever-fluctuating economy where job stability is highly valued, job crafting is a practical way to turn the job you have right now into the job you want. This study examines experienced job crafters and outlines their most effective methods in order to derive a set of principles and practices that any individual can implement to effectively incorporate job crafting into his or her current role.

Introduction and Methodology

Study Overview

Recent Gallup studies have shown that only 30% of American employees, and 13% of the global workforce, report feeling engaged in their day-to-day work (Gallup A, 2013; Gallup B, 2013). Worldwide, actively disengaged employees (employees who are unhappy and thus negatively impacting their employers) outnumber those who are engaged (employees who feel a connection to their work and employer) 2 to 1 (Gallup B, 2013). Not only does disengagement cost countries’ economies and healthcare systems millions of dollars each year, but employees are also becoming increasingly resistant to the positive perks and policies companies can offer (Gallup A, 2013; Gallup B, 2013).
 
Over the last 14 years, researchers such as Amy Wrzesniewski, Jane Dutton, and Justin Berg have worked to combat this disengagement with their seminal and follow-up works on the theory of job crafting (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001; Berg, Dutton, & Wrzesniewski, 2008; Berg, Wrzesniewski, & Dutton 2010). Job crafting focuses on changing the given task, relational, and cognitive boundaries of a job in order to improve its fit with an employee’s personal needs, interests, and values (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001). Not only can job crafting bring about positive intrinsic outcomes such as greater personal meaning and identity, it can also improve overall employee well-being, decrease burn-out, and increase engagement and performance on the job (Tims, Bakker, & Derks, 2013), resulting in less absenteeism and increased organizational effectiveness (Schaufeli, Bakker, & Rhenen, 2009). While job crafting has gained notoriety and momentum in popular press in recent years, there are still few articles outlining the practical actions employees and organizations can implement. Out of those articles that do give concrete actions, the examples of action come with little explanation as to how to execute them. Furthermore, these actions are generally created from the authors’ perspectives as opposed to the experienced job crafting population.
 
The purpose of this research is to discover detailed, common job crafting actions employed by the experienced job crafting population, or individuals who have job crafted on a consistent basis throughout their careers. Uncovering the specific actions taken by this population will not only reveal some of the more effective and efficient job crafting techniques available, but it will also create the foundation of actions employees can explore once they decide to begin the job crafting process.
 

Study Design

This study aimed to identify common actions experienced job crafters have taken when changing the task, relational, and cognitive boundaries of their various jobs throughout their careers to bring greater meaning and happiness to their professional lives. Within job crafting literature, changing task boundaries refers to adding more of the tasks one enjoys, subtracting those of least enjoyment, and/or adding new tasks to a job (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001; Berg et al., 2008). Changing relational boundaries refers to the strengthening or dismissal of current relationships, and/or the creation of new relationships in the workplace (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001; Berg et al., 2008). Finally, changing the cognitive boundaries of a job refers to changing how one perceives the purpose of parts of a job, or the job as a whole (Wrzesniewski, Berg, & Dutton, 2010; Berg et al., 2008).
 
The dependent variable of experienced job crafters has not yet been defined within the job crafting literature. Therefore, a short survey was initially distributed throughout the researcher’s networks via LinkedIn, Twitter, and the MSLOC knowledge management system (Appendix A) to locate this population. Survey questions used a nine-point Likert scale (i.e. “rate on a scale of 1 to 9 how frequently you…”) to identify the frequency of job crafting actions being performed by the participants. The 10 surveys with the highest totaled scores from the combined survey questions, and whose participants expressed interest in being interviewed, were contacted via email for potential interviews. When an initial candidate was unable to participate, the next participant whose survey met this criteria was contacted until ten participants were confirmed for interviews.
 
The three remaining variables (actions taken to change tasks, actions taken to change relationships, and actions taken to change cognitive perceptions) were measured through an informal, semi-structured interview carried out in a responsive interviewing style, given that the research question was very exploratory (Rubin & Rubin, 2012). The interview protocol (Appendix B) consisted of five main open-ended questions designed to encourage participants to provide a high-level overview of their careers (much like verbalizing a LinkedIn profile or resume), and specific probing questions for participants to provide examples of times when they created greater meaning and fulfillment in unsatisfying jobs.
 

Study Procedures & Duration

Data were collected over a 10-week period by conducting 45-60 minute semi-structured interviews with selected participants. Twenty-seven people took the initial survey, and 17 expressed interest in being interviewed. Of the initial 10 survey participants who were contacted for interviews, 8 responded positively to the requests, and 2 did not reply. Another 2 survey participants were contacted 3 weeks later and accepted interview requests, making a total of 10 interviews.
 
The total number of points possible from the Likert scale survey was 63. The scores of respondents who specified interest in being interviewed ranged from 39 to 59, with the average being 49.1. Those who were interviewed for the study had scores ranging from 47 to 59. The two survey participants who did not reply each had a total of 50 points.
 
Interviewee work experience ranged from a minimum of 6 years to a maximum of 39 years, with an average number of experience equal to 20.9 years. Industries included various human resources positions, independent consulting, recruiting, higher education, and broadcast journalism.

Analysis & Results

Methods

Given that Wrzesniewski and Dutton (2001) define job crafting as changing the task, relational, and/or cognitive boundaries of a job, job crafting actions disclosed in the interviews were initially coded by each of these three boundaries. This helped maintain consistency with the literature and to provide readers of this study an easy framework to understand and utilize the data. This strategy is also consistent with Berg, et al.’s (2010) job crafting data analysis approach. However, many job crafting actions not consistent with these three boundaries were discovered in the data. These were subsequently labeled, categorized, and eventually placed in new boundaries. Additionally, more than one code was often assigned to a single piece of data if it met the criteria for multiple codes.

The data were coded even further within each existing boundary by using Berg et al.’s (2008) detailed summary of common job crafting techniques. In the task boundary, data were coded by the ways in which participants changed, added, or decreased their tasks. In the relational boundary, data were coded by the ways in which participants increased, decreased, or created new interactions. In the cognitive boundary, data were coded by the ways in which participants altered their self-talk, thoughts, or perceptions of all, or a part of, their jobs.

Upon a second review, all data were transferred to an Excel spreadsheet and sorted by code. This allowed the researcher to note which job crafting actions were used most frequently by the interviewees, and also to create categories and themes from the new methods that had been discovered.

Throughout the analysis, relevant excerpts in the data were constantly summarized, sorted, and compared in order to ensure the codes that were used in the beginning of the analysis were still relevant after many passes through the data, much like what is done in the grounded theory model (Rubin & Rubin, 2012).

Results

Job crafting in the task, relationship, and cognitive boundaries

Every interviewed individual described examples of actions they had taken in the past to make their jobs more meaningful and fulfilling within the task, relationship, and cognitive job crafting boundaries. However, out of 708 coded instances of job crafting, the actions mentioned in these three boundaries only amounted to 225. The other 483 codes captured indicated job crafting techniques performed outside of the traditional definitions of the task, relationship, and cognitive boundaries.

In the task boundary, interviewees indicated they changed their tasks in various ways a total of 64 times across the ten interviews. Out of adding, subtracting, or beginning new tasks, interviewees began brand new tasks within their jobs most, primarily to find new topics/tasks they could enjoy, or to build new skills they could eventually leverage in their favor. Additionally, many added enjoyable tasks outside of their work hours when they could not add more tasks to their work days. This worked to either keep them balanced/happy when they were unable to find meaning in the workplace, or helped them build knowledge and skills they could use in their jobs in the future. As one interviewee noted, “…if I’ve got a 40 hour week job, I’m so excited about this [outside task] that I don’t care if it’s another 10 hours that I’m doing what I want to be doing, because it’s always more of an above and beyond, and then overtime in some cases became part of my responsibilities.”

Experienced job crafters performed actions in the relationship boundary twice as much as they performed actions in the task and cognitive boundaries, with 129 total instances recorded. In this boundary, creating new relationships was the most frequent action taken over strengthening and subtracting relationships. Specifically, interviewees frequently worked to locate advocating supervisors and mentors, and also played brokering/boundary spanning roles throughout the company, connecting people and resources to create collaborative, less stressful environments. However, the most important action gleaned from the relationship boundary was "using open, transparent communication within workplace relationships". This theme was brought up 48 times within the ten interviews, and each interviewee mentioned it at least once. Being honest and upfront with others helped these individuals advocate for themselves, their work, and their intentions and allowed them to take a proactive approach to managing their responsibilities. As one individual explained, “…the reason why job crafting has worked so well for me is because of the very transparent relationship that I’ve always maintained with [my two bosses].”

Finally, interviewees indicated changing how they perceived their jobs (changing their cognitive boundaries) a total of 32 times. These experienced job crafters were twice as likely to change how they viewed and approached their work overall, rather than only changing how they viewed certain tasks within their jobs. Many put their jobs in context, e.g. seeing the job only as a means to pay the bills, as part of larger career aspirations, or as a true calling (Wrzesniewski, McCauley, & Rozin, 1997; Berg et al., 2008). For example, one interviewee explained “I didn’t like the job at all, but I knew when I took it that it was a stepping stone” and another noted “at times you did the least amount of work necessary. You…get there at 8:30 and…out of the building by 3 o’clock.” Others found ways to cope with individual unfulfilling tasks in their roles, conquering them by “…using a more appreciative view…kind of the big picture” or by “…figuring out how to take my skills and apply them into an area of responsibility so that I could optimize my expectedness, not necessarily follow the rules and expectations that were laid out.”

Job crafting in new boundaries

Job Crafting Boundaries

Data that could not be categorized in the task, relationship, or cognitive boundaries were coded, analyzed, and placed in three new boundaries – workplace-driven mindsets, personal mindsets, and other methods (Figure 1).

All job crafting methods placed in the workplace-driven mindsets boundary are mindsets one would frequently find individuals exhibiting within the workplace. The most notable method of job crafting within this category is “streamlining processes within the organization”, which accounted for 23% of the total codes in the category. Individuals who demonstrated this behavior consistently recognized gaps in processes and looked for ways they could make their jobs easier – not just for themselves, but for the organization as a whole. As one interviewee indicated, it’s important that “you’re trying to do the best thing for everybody and not [just] the best thing for yourself.”

Job crafting methods in the personal mindsets category exemplified mindsets that an individual could possess in every facet of life. The most frequent mindset indicated was “initiative and assertiveness,” accounting for 34% of all methods within this category. Individuals who demonstrated initiative and assertiveness took a strong “ask for forgiveness, not permission” approach as they job crafted, in terms of connecting with people or beginning tasks that were outside of their daily relationships and responsibilities. One interviewee noted, “I have always viewed it as how I’m willing to operate and what I’m going to do, more than, ‘I’ve got to get permission from my manager or have my manager figure out how to craft my job,’” showing that the willingness to push forward and take control of a job is often more valuable than waiting for others to get on board.

Finally, any job crafting methods identified that did not fit in the aforementioned categories were placed in the “other methods” category. Here, methods ranged from “focusing on making your case/proposal” to “self-awareness and understanding your preferences”. The latter consisted of 66% of all methods placed in this category and described instances where interviewees noted their strengths, weaknesses, values, purpose, or preferred working conditions when making decisions on how and when to job craft. For example, one interviewee noted, “I have this history of pulling people together to break down barriers. And that’s what really feeds me.”

After coding was completed, the frequency of each code was counted, all codes were combined and totaled, and the mean frequency of this total was calculated. To locate key themes within the data, the standard deviation of the totaled codes was calculated, and all codes with a frequency of occurrence one standard deviation above the mean were examined further and considered in the recommendations below (Figure 2).

Limitations

The survey and interview population used for this study presents one of its limiting factors. While the survey was distributed through multiple networks, those who qualified as experienced job crafters and were subsequently interviewed shared similar demographics. Of the 10 interviewees, 4 were from the same organization, and 5 were at one time affiliated with the same graduate program. Additionally, 9 of the 10 interviewees currently, or in the past, worked for large corporations and held traditional 9-5 jobs.

Other limitations of the study lie in the maturity and diversity of the job crafting field. Most job crafting authors in the United States are connected as co-authors on each other’s papers. This is a limitation among European job crafting authors as well. This has led to the creation of different schools of thought around job crafting, which has produced multiple definitions of the topic and its components. For example, Tims & Bakker (2010) do not believe that using the cognitive form of job crafting actively changes an individual’s job; however, Wrzesniewski, Dutton, & Berg believe it is a large and important component in the process (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001; Berg et al., 2008). This makes it difficult, in a subjective study such as this, to objectively categorize and identify exactly what type of job crafting is occurring within an interview. Additionally, mindsets, motivations, outcomes, actions, demands, resources, etc. in job crafting have been identified, but a fully integrated model of these has yet to emerge in the literature, making the distinction of actions vs. motivations, etc. even more difficult for researchers. Tims & Bakker (2010) confirm this when they note that “there is no consensus yet on how to examine job crafting empirically and generally,” thus further increasing the subjectivity of the field (p. 3).

Interpretation and Recommendations

The following interpretations are meant to be guidelines for practitioners and any employees who desire to incorporate job crafting into their daily routines.

General Guidelines

At a high level, three important behaviors that stood out in all participants of this study were positivity, altruism, and authenticity. Almost all of job crafting examples given involved the underlying motivation of helping others in the organization in an authentic (rather than manipulative or selfish) way. Many actions done outside of normal job responsibilities were also approached from a positive/optimistic mindset, where interviewees believed maintaining a “glass half full” mentality would eventually yield desirable results. One interviewee who is a manager at a large corporation even mentioned his viewpoints on positive employees, saying, “…others can see that you’re excited, you’re passionate, you’re adding value, you’re contributing, and they’re going to be more, ‘Hey, we need to get [this employee] more involved doing that, because look what a difference it’s made here…and he’s so passionate about it,’ and it can become part of your regular responsibilities, not always, ‘Well, that’s always above and beyond your day job.’” Combining these three attributes into your daily routine communicates your value as an employee to others. Moreover, showing an authentic drive to help others establishes credibility and dependability, which may lead to further opportunities presenting themselves down the road.

Frequently Observed Behaviors of Experienced Job Crafters

Figure 2: Frequency of Observed Job Crafting ActionsFive main themes in the data were observed on a more frequent basis than any others (Figure 2). These themes, in order of smallest to largest occurrence were: streamlining processes for the organization, desire to create change/make an impact, use of open, transparent communication in relationships,self-awareness/understanding personal preferences, and initiative and assertiveness (Figure 2). The only theme housed within a traditional job crafting boundary (task, relationship, or cognitive boundary) was “use of open, transparent communication in relationships,” which falls under the relationship boundary. The 4 remaining themes were all behaviors outside of the traditional job crafting boundaries.

While these themes may seem more like mindsets and disparate techniques rather than concrete actions, they directly influenced the specific actions each experienced job crafter took, and thus are just as important as actions. As one interviewee eloquently explained,

“[The special job crafters] don’t think ‘I don’t have any time to do it,’ or ‘I don’t have any flexibility in my job’…I think those are all excuses. If somebody’s motivated and they want to, they can find the time...It’s all in their attitude.”

Researchers have noted that proactive behaviors and the belief in one’s ability to job craft are essential to successfully altering a job in a way that improves both the enjoyment of one’s work and his/her overall work performance (Tims, Bakker, & Derks, 2014; Tims & Bakker, 2010; Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001). Examining each of the five most dominant themes can help us understand various proactive behaviors experienced job crafters engage in, as well as how these behaviors can be easily adopted for widespread use.

“Find the holes and fill ‘em” – Streamlining processes for the organization

Many of the participants interviewed noted a large affinity for creating more efficient ways for their organizations to run on a daily basis. Almost all intentions to streamline processes were for the benefit of the organization rather than the employee. Many times, these intentions were deeply ingrained within the interviewees – as one noted, “Every job I’ve had...even if it’s a job description that’s set in stone, I immediately look at it and go ‘How can we be doing this job better?’” Another confirmed the fulfillment felt from helping others and her organization overall, simply stating, “It was just fun…I just want to make things efficient so we’re valuing people’s time and energies.” There is no doubt engaging in this type of behavior can also be extremely beneficial to those who employ it. Another interviewee indicated, “[You need to have] clear ideas or solutions or suggestions that will be seen as both valuable to the organization...as well as interesting, engaging, and motivating to you as an individual, and having that intersection of the two is another key to success.” Tims & Bakker (2010) affirm that employees who engage in these types of “non-required, nonconformist” behaviors are invaluable assets to managers and organizations, and thus may receive benefits accordingly (p. 2).


“It’s just meaningful for me to try to make things better” – Desire to create change and make an impact

This behavior closely mirrors that of streamlining organizational processes above; however, in this study, the desire to create change and make an impact was observed as an overarching mindset, while streamlining organizational processes was observed as an action. Possessing the awareness that the contributions you make are valuable and impactful, especially on a company-wide level, creates the feeling of purpose and fulfillment that many job crafters seek (Hurst, 2014). One interviewee attested that it "definitely makes my jobs more meaningful if I can impact change outside of my little job to make it better,” and another confirmed, “[I try to] find out how I might be able to collaborate…to have a broader impact across the organization.” Research also confirms the importance of seeing the impact in ones work. As Teresa Amabile (2011) notes, “Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress,” (p. 4).

“Conversation and intention” – Use open, transparent communication in relationships

Being open and honest about your professional goals and desires helps create authentic, trusting relationships with colleagues and superiors, which can eventually yield new opportunities (Tims & Bakker, 2010). As one interviewee noted, “I know that in the past I’ve come up with...proposals or business cases or showing what the benefit of some of my ideas would be to really try and demonstrate that value and that connection and contribution in a way that was a little bit more than, 'Hey! I’ve got this idea and will you support me?' But really giving it a lot of thought.” As another interviewee stated, “[it’s important for me] to be more forward and direct with what it is I actually want...you can do a lot changing tasks and so forth, but what I have found, and the reason why I do have a different job all the time and I’m constantly learning and growing – I’ve found that it’s being more clear with myself and with others around what it is that I want.” Additionally, it is important to be intentional and self-aware in your conversations to ensure they will have a positive effect on your professional life.


“It really starts with knowing myself” – Gain self-awareness and an understanding of your preferences

Building off the above theme, it is critical to take the time to become aware of the tasks, environments, and situations that bring you meaning and fulfillment. Gaining this insight is the foundational step to building a plan to achieve those moments of gratification and purpose. Interviewees consistently acknowledged the specific strengths and desires they needed to use in their jobs in order to be engaged. As Aaron Hurst (2014) notes, “the prerequisite to effectively creating meaning [is] self-awareness,” (p. 128). Interviewees fully supported this, saying, “be very clear on what you expect from yourself – articulate it…” and “…the most helpful part of job crafting is you have to start with understanding what it is that makes you tick. Where it is you find energy, why you find energy doing that, is it the audience that you’re working with, is it the work you’re doing that you find energy, or is it the people?”

“Take a risk, fail hard” – Initiative and assertiveness

Out of all themes identified within the data, possessing initiative and assertiveness was by far the most widely discussed. Once experienced job crafters understood what brought meaning and fulfillment to their work lives, they took initiative and asserted themselves in the workplace to get what they wanted out of their jobs. Many of the study's participants even indicated how detrimental they believed asking for permission was to the job crafting process (as stated in the analysis section). As one interviewee stated, "Don’t ask for permission, just get started so that everyone thinks that it’s just there. My philosophy is, 'It’s easier to beg forgiveness than ask for permission.' I mean, everything I did at [my last job], I just sort of did it. I didn’t even tell anyone. I just started doing it.” Another affirmed this mindset, saying, "I saw an opportunity, decided to go after it, and just got involved and maybe ruffled a few feathers along the way, but I did that rather than a lot of asking for permission because I think sometimes, if you ask for permission, the answer’s no. So you have to take it into your own hands a little bit.” Additionally, Tims & Bakker (2010) assert that employees who are proactive at work “create their own environment and therefore are more likely to be effective in their jobs…since they take the initiative in improving current circumstances, identify opportunities for change, take action and persevere until they bring about meaningful change,” (p. 6).

Implications

Some researchers have proposed that proactive behaviors and mindsets of employees, while beneficial to the organization, do not benefit the employee directly (Tims & Bakker, 2010; Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001). The results produced by this study signal otherwise, with interviewees consistently noting they received increased visibility, opportunities, and fulfillment from their work by engaging in behaviors that displayed initiative, authenticity, and altruism.

Practitioners should be aware that job crafting does not always have to yield material benefits such as a raise or promotion to be successful – on the contrary, many of the interviewees of this study noted they “still don’t know what [they] want to be when they grow up” and are happy making small tweaks or lateral moves to continually gain new learning opportunities and a renewed sense of purpose. However, the road to meaning and fulfillment starts with the individual job crafter – he/she must know where and how they feel most energized and purposeful. If job crafters lack this crucial self-awareness their efforts to job craft will be unauthentic and haphazard, resulting in less of a chance to gain advocates and thus new opportunities. Starting with yourself is the first step in job crafting – once you recognize what brings you purpose and meaning, you can start being assertive and taking the initiative to seek it out, talk openly with others, and create the change you want to see.

Due to the importance of knowing yourself and your preferences in the job crafting process, future research should be conducted on effective ways to help individuals assess the tasks, environments, and circumstances that engage them the most. Eventually, organizations may want to create seminars or even communities of practice to teach the combination of self-awareness and job crafting behaviors to employees, encouraging them to take initiative in their roles and make positive and sustainable changes for themselves and the organization. Additionally, further research into the classification of the types of job crafting behaviors discussed here may help reduce some of the ambiguity and subjectivity that surrounds this topic. For example, it is important to understand if self-awareness, assertiveness, and the desire to create change are mindsets and actions job crafters can adopt, or if they are actually personality traits that one must possess in order to job craft. Results proving the former may encourage more employees to try this development technique, rather than view it as a chore or additional task they must fit into their workday.

References

Amabile, T. M., & Kramer, S. J. (2011). The power of small wins. Harvard Business Review, 89(5), 70-80.

Berg, J. M., Dutton, J. E., & Wrzesniewski, A. (2008). What is job crafting and why does it matter? Positive Organizational Scholarship. Retrieved from: http://positiveorgs.bus.umich.edu/wp-content/uploads/What-is-Job-Crafting-and-Why-Does-it-Matter1.pdf.

Berg, J. M., Wrzesniewski, A., & Dutton, J. E. (2010). Perceiving and responding to challenges in job crafting at different ranks: When proactivity requires adaptivity. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31(2‐3), 158-186.

Gallup A. (2013). State of the American Workplace: Employee engagement insights for U.S. business leaders. Retrieved from: http://www.michaeljbeck.com/documents/State%20of%20the%20American%20Workplace%20Report%202013.pdf

Gallup B. (2013). State of the Global Workplace: Employee engagement insights for business leaders worldwide. Retrieved from: http://www.ihrim.org/Pubonline/Wire/Dec13/GlobalWorkplaceReport_2013.pdf

Hurst, A. (2014). The Purpose Economy: How Your Desire for Impact, Personal Growth and Community Is Changing the World. Boise, Idaho: Elevate.

O’Leary, Z. (2010). The essential guide to doing your research project (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publications.

Rubin, H. J., & Rubin, I. S. (2012). Qualitative interviewing: The art of hearing data (3rd ed.). London: Sage Publications.

Schaufeli, W. B., Bakker, A. B., & Van Rhenen, W. (2009). How changes in job demands and resources predict burnout, work engagement, and sickness absenteeism. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30(7), 893-917.

Tims, M., Bakker, A. B., & Derks, D. (2013). The impact of job crafting on job demands, job resources, and well-being. Journal of occupational health psychology, 18(2), 230-240.

Tims, M., & Bakker, A. B. (2010). Job crafting: Towards a new model of individual job redesign. SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, 36(2), 1-9.

Tims, M. Bakker, A. B., and Derks, D. (2014). Daily job crafting and the self-efficacy – performance relationship. Journal of Managerial Psychology 29(5), 490-507.

Wrzesniewski, A., McCauley, C., Rozin, P., & Schwartz, B. (1997). Jobs, careers, and callings: People's relations to their work. Journal of research in personality, 31(1), 21-33.

Wrzesniewski, A., & Dutton, J. E. (2001). Crafting a job: Revisioning employees as active crafters of their work. Academy of Management Review, 26(2), 179-201.

Wrzesniewski, A., Berg, J., & Dutton, J.E. (2010) Turn the Job You Have into the Job You Want. Harvard Business Review, 88(6), 114-117.

Appendices

Appendix A – Survey Protocol

Introduction

This survey is designed to identify the frequency of actions that employees take to mold their jobs to fit their current needs, values, and passions. Taking part in this study will help researchers better understand what specific actions employees can take to increase their happiness and fulfillment in any position they hold.

This survey should take no more than five minutes of your time and is completely voluntary.

Questions

The following statements ask for the frequency at which you perform these actions:

1. How often do you look for ways to make your work more fulfilling and meaningful?

a. 1 – Never, 2, 3, 4 5 – Sometimes, 6, 7, 8, 9 – Always

2. How often do you look for ways to reenergize your work life?

a. 1 – Never, 2, 3, 4 5 – Sometimes, 6, 7, 8, 9 – Always

3. How often do you take on more of the tasks and responsibilities you enjoy at work?

a. 1 – Never, 2, 3, 4 5 – Sometimes, 6, 7, 8, 9 – Always

4. How often do you look to take on new tasks or responsibilities at work to build new skills or help in your personal development?

a. 1 – Never, 2, 3, 4 5 – Sometimes, 6, 7, 8, 9 – Always

5. How often do you look for peers or superiors who can mentor your development at work?

a. 1 – Never, 2, 3, 4 5 – Sometimes, 6, 7, 8, 9 – Always

6. How often do you look to increase or decrease your interactions with certain coworkers to improve your happiness in the work place?

a. 1 – Never, 2, 3, 4 5 – Sometimes, 6, 7, 8, 9 – Always

7. How often do you purposefully change the way you view all, or part of, your job to perceive it as more positive and meaningful?

a. 1 – Never, 2, 3, 4 5 – Sometimes, 6, 7, 8, 9 – Always

8. Would you be open to being contacted by the researcher for a 30-45 minute one-on-one telephone interview?

a. Yes or No

9. If you responded “yes” to number 8, what is your name?

a. Fill in the blank

10. If you responded “yes” to number 8, what is the best email address to reach you at?

a. Fill in the blank

Appendix B – Interview Protocol

Introduction

Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed for my Capstone study! As you may already know from the initial survey you filled out, this study is being conducted to identify what actions employees take to make their professional lives more meaningful and aligned with their personal needs, values, and interests. The technical term for this is called job crafting, and it is the area of organizational behavior that I am currently studying.

Your participation in this study will help to identify common themes in the behaviors and actions that employees take when molding their jobs to fit their current needs, values, and passions (i.e. job crafting). Ultimately, this data will be used within a Capstone project in my graduate studies, but at a later date I would like to create published guidelines for people who would like to start job crafting in their current roles, but aren’t exactly sure where to begin.

This interview is anonymous and there are no identifiers being collected. All interview recordings and records will be kept confidential by coding participant names with pseudonyms within the research report and keeping data in a password protected, private computer. The results of the research study may be published, but your name will not be used.

This interview will take between 45 minutes to 1 hour. If I have your permission, I would love to record the audio of our conversation so I can spend more time guiding our interview and less time taking notes. Please feel free to stop me to ask for clarification on a question or a term, or for an example of the material we are discussing. Thank you so much again, and let’s get started!

Questions

A. Exploring the interviewee’s career background to build context for the interviewer and build rapport.

a. During this interview, we will have an informal conversation about your work history, and any times you may have felt your job(s) did not align with your values or interests at the time. We will speak about the first time you may have felt this way, and will discuss occurrences of these feelings and the actions you have taken to combat them up until your current role.

i. Tell me about the different roles you held before your current role. If you had to verbalize your resume to me at a very high level, what different jobs did you hold before your current one?

B. Eliciting job crafting stories from interviewees

a. In these roles that you just detailed, can you tell me about the first time you were in a role and you realized it wasn’t engaging or fulfilling, or aligned with your interests or values? How long ago was this and what specifically made you feel that way?

b. How did you change these jobs to be more meaningful and fulfilling (outside of looking for new jobs)?

i. Probing questions:

1. Did you change your day-to-day tasks and responsibilities? How were you able to change from the tasks you normally did to different ones?

2. Did you change the amount or types of relationships you had with your coworkers? How specifically did you change the relationships you currently had with people or create new ones?

3. Did you change your thoughts and perceptions about a part of your (or your entire) job?

a. Did you change your self-talk or mantras you used throughout your work day? If so, what were they originally, and what did you change them to?

c. Can you tell me about any other times later in your career where you felt a job was not engaging or meaningful and why? How did you make them more engaging and meaningful to you?

d. Lastly, what would you say your top three, most effective actions are that you use, or have used, to become more engaged in your job and align it more with your interests over your entire career?

i. Probing question:

1. What things have worked best for you to make your job more meaningful and engaging?

Conclusion

Thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with me today and discuss these topics. This has been incredibly enlightening, and I am so excited to comb through this data and apply it to my project! Is there anything else you would like to add to our discussion before I turn the recording off?

If I have any questions when I look back at our interview, would you mind if I reach out for clarification via email? Additionally, if you think of anything after we leave here today please feel free to reach out to me at any time. I would also love to send you a copy of my Capstone paper when it is finished, so you can see exactly your interview contributed to. Thank you so much again!

Contact Us

Master's in Learning & Organizational Change

First Floor, Annenberg Hall
2120 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208
Northwestern University

Phone: 847/491-7376

Email: msloc@northwestern.edu