The transition to remote working since the start of the coronavirus pandemic has piled additional strain onto employees, exacerbated by isolation. While some people enjoy working permanently from home, many have struggled to stay motivated. In a study of UK employees by insurer Aviva last year, 43 per cent described their wellbeing as being less than good, while research by advisory firm Gallup found two thirds of people worldwide are not engaged at work.
With most companies now reimagining office spaces to fit into a more hybrid model of working when the pandemic ends, it’s clear this is not a temporary trend. In a survey by Actus, 65 per cent of UK workers said isolation and disengagement were major hurdles to be cleared in the hybrid world of work. An employee disengagement hangover from the pandemic is likely to loom over organisations for years to come, presenting a truly business-critical challenge to overcome.
Though increasing employee engagement is a clear priority among human resources, and learning and development professionals, some employees are not willing to wait for this to happen. The turbulent jobs market caused by the COVID-19 crisis may have left some feeling stuck with their current employer for the foreseeable future, but they don’t necessarily need to feel stuck in their role.
“Working remotely has been around for decades, but the circumstances of the last year have meant many organisations had to deploy policies they might not have done otherwise or indeed that their employees would have wanted,” says Patrick Brigger, chief operating officer and co-founder at getAbstract, an e-learning platform with the world’s largest online library of summarised content. “It can lead to feeling disconnected or demotivated, especially among those for whom teamwork and social interactions were a primary source of their job motivation.
“By taking a proactive approach to your job, you can increase how satisfied you feel within your role. These are important skills now that many people might feel disconnected from their work.
Insecurities surrounding development or the future of your role can add to this feeling, so lots of people are seeking ways to give meaning to their jobs while stuck at home. They may not be able to change their current employer, or the fixed parameters of their current job, but they can change how they approach and relate to their daily tasks. This is where job crafting comes in.”
Though not new, job crafting has gained new-found relevance during the pandemic. It is a concept based on assigning meaning and context to daily tasks. Employees take charge of their working hours. While still performing the duties laid out in their job description, they actively shape their work and reframe their job approach with the goal of enhancing their own wellbeing.
Most jobs have at least some flexibility around how much time and effort are allocated to individual tasks, which makes job crafting an opportunity for nearly anybody feeling disengaged at work. But there are no written rules. Employees may just want to put more time and effort into the tasks they enjoy or that challenge them in a positive way. It may mean expanding the scope of one task or narrowing the scope of another. It may even be performing tasks in a completely different way than originally taught, to make them more stimulating, time efficient or rewarding.
“Job crafting boils down to taking charge of your approach to work and it’s a great way to address personal struggles with motivation,” says Brigger. getAbstract recently released a white paper on the subject and its library of book summaries offer a wealth of further resources. “While you might not be able to shift the parameters of your role, you can choose how to approach your tasks; it’s an act of self-care and a very smart career development strategy,” he says.
“The skills involved in job crafting are more pertinent to career success than ever before. Employees engaged in job crafting shape their work tasks, develop their work relationships and give meaning to their jobs to enhance their personal wellbeing and job satisfaction. But the responsibility doesn’t lie just on the employees, leaders can do a lot to foster employee engagement and create the conditions that will allow employees to develop and thrive. Leaders need to create the conditions that allow job crafting. This is ultimately about empowering people to take charge of their development and growth.”
Crucially, job crafting doesn’t just benefit employees, who find more meaning and engagement in their work, but also employers, who benefit enormously from increased productivity and highly relevant skills. Employees who engage in job crafting demonstrate intrinsic motivation, something that can’t be taught, and a strong growth mindset. Companies gain huge value from people who approach work tasks as learning opportunities.
According to social scientist Carol Dweck, organisations embracing a “culture of genius” view talent as fixed or static, while those that support a “culture of development” treat their employees’ skills as something that can grow.
In the war for talent, it’s also important to note the commitment displayed by job crafters. They are not passively waiting for their employer to give them the motivation to stay with them long term, instead they seek ways to learn and make their work more engaging and rewarding. This is very pertinent to the growing number of business leaders recognising the value of internal upskilling and sideway mobility, including their benefits for agility, resilience and growth.
“Job crafting is an employee-driven process,” says Brigger. “HR departments and leaders should support this process. It often not only leads to a happier, more engaged workforce, but a more successful one too. Finding talent takes less time and people who’ve worked at the company before become productive team members more quickly. Retention grows because people who are ready for new challenges will stay if they have new opportunities. Leaders can help develop these skills by embracing a culture of development.”
For the past 20 years, we’ve helped organisations build cultures that prioritise learning and growth. Download our job crafting guide at getab.li/jobcrafting
Promoted by getAbstract