Job crafting and leisure crafting: creating meaning and fostering commitment to work

This document is destined for the exclusive use of and cannot be used for any other purpose or distributed to third parties. All rights reserved, Global-Watch ®
Ce document est réservé à l'usage exclusif de et ne peut faire l'objet d'aucune autre utilisation ou diffusion auprès de tiers. Tous droits réservés, Global-Watch ®

Scientific interpretation

Working environments are both dynamic and evolving. They subject employees to performance and adaptation challenges which can negatively influence their commitment to work. Job crafting – shaping or determining how one’s time is spent at work – is becoming more and more widespread. Employees seek to create meaning in their work and professional occupations, and this generally increases their commitment to the work. But is job crafting suitable for all types of work? When it isn’t, leisure crafting – shaping free or non-work time – can provide an interesting avenue for many individuals to create meaning outside of work!

To better understand these phenomena, we examined the study by Petrou and his colleagues, published in 2017. This study evaluates the interrelation between the importance given by an employee/worker to his or her professional role and job crafting, and the impact of this interrelationship on meaning creation and commitment to work. The study’s authors also looked at the compensatory role of leisure crafting to create meaning in the lives of employees for whom job crafting is not an option.

Expert advisor:

Étienne Fouquet, research assistant, Université de Sherbrooke

Authors

Patrice Daneau, research assistant, Université de Sherbrooke

JOSÉE CHARBONNEAU, research assistant, Université de Sherbrooke

This initiative was made possible through a collaboration with the Université de Sherbrooke.

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY:

Creating meaning at work

Meaning creation at work refers to an individual’s ability to integrate the various parametres of his or her job into a personal sense of worth based on his or her values and needs. In other words, it is the ability to attribute a reason for being to situations experienced at work that might be difficult or ambiguous. To understand the concept, it is necessary to distinguish the creation of meaning from the perception of meaning at work. The perception of meaning is the process by which an individual intrinsically evaluates different experiences based on his or her core values and needs. The creation of meaning is the process through which an individual establishes coherent links between the parametres of his or her work and his or her personal criteria based on the perception of meaning (his or her core values and needs).

For example, a caretaker in a hospital may find meaning in his or her work by interacting with patients and being aware of the importance of his or her work to their well-being. Through this contact with others with whom he or she would not normally interact, the caretaker assigns a purpose to his or her work and creates meaning in work.

Job crafting

Job crafting refers to how or the way in which employees shape their work to make it better. For the purposes of this article, job crafting is approached broadly. It refers to the behaviours adopted by employees to increase (1) their social resources at work (eg, counselling and mutual assistance), (2) their structural resources (eg, learning opportunities, independence), and (3) their professional challenges (eg, new responsibilities).

Job crafting promotes commitment to work and the creation of meaning in work. The three dimensions of job crafting positively influence the perception of employees/workers that they play a useful role professionally, one that aligns with their personal values and needs, and that they have the necessary resources and skills to successfully perform this role. In addition to creating an environment that fosters personal growth and learning, job crafting facilitates the access employees have to the professional and emotional support of co-workers/colleagues. Job crafting enables employees to build relationships with others and, in so doing, to satisfy their individual psychological needs. This strengthens their sense of achievement and competence. In this study, employees/workers who place a high value on their work are more likely to shape it to make it more meaningful.

Leisure crafting

Leisure crafting refers to the behaviour adopted by employees/workers to proactively pursue leisure activities outside work. It enables individuals to create meaning in their lives through human connections, learning and opportunities for personal development, and the achievement of personal goals.

For some, leisure crafting compensates for the difficulty or impossibility of making or shaping satisfactory changes at work. But these employees/workers can find broader meaning in their lives through their leisure activities. Other individuals accept their work if conditions at work, such as an attractive salary, flexible hours or opportunities to become involved in social and community activities, make it easier for them to fulfil themselves in their leisure time.

Complete reference

Petrou, P., Bakker, A. B., & den Heuvel, M. (2017). Weekly job crafting and leisure crafting: Implications for meaning‐making and work engagement. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 90(2), 129-152.

Methodology

Researchers used their networks of contacts to recruit study participants. The latter received an email invitation including information about the study, its research focus and a link to an online survey. Participation was voluntary.

  • 105 employees based in Holland
  • Various economic industry sectors
  • Participants were selected online
  • Average age of 40.7 years
  • Average hours worked:
    • Women – 30.1 hr/week
    • Men – 37.1 hr/week

Given that some participants do not work every day, an email was sent on Wednesdays asking participants to complete a weekly survey before the last business day of their working week, on whatever day it fell. On Fridays or during the weekend, a reminder email was sent to participants who had failed to complete the weekly survey.

WHAT DO THE RESULTS OF THE STUDY TELL US?

The more employees/workers value their professional role, the more likely they are to be engaged and interested in shaping their work in order to make it meaningful.

On the other hand, when job crafting opportunities are limited, leisure crafting plays a more significant role in the creation of meaning in the lives of employees.

Principal results

Interpretations

1. The more positive perception an employee/worker has of his or her professional role …

The more pronounced is the positive interrelation between job crafting and his or her commitment to work.

 

  • Employees/workers who perceive work as important are more likely to tend to improve various aspects of it.
  • When employees have the opportunity to improve their work environment, the perception that they have control over their lives and their desire to devote themselves to their work increases.

The more an increase in structural resources promotes the creation of meaning at work.

  • Employees/workers who have opportunities to increase their professional resources (eg, learning opportunities, autonomy) feel they can better exploit their potential and align their lives with their values and needs.

2. When fewer opportunities for job crafting are available …

Leisure crafting has a more significant impact on the creation of meaning in the lives of employees.

  • If it is difficult or, even, impossible to shape a job in the workplace, leisure becomes more meaningful to employees/workers.
  • Although it can facilitate the creation of a broader meaning in the lives of employees, leisure crafting does not improve their commitment to or the creation of meaning in their work. Instead, it provides a more general, positive rationale for their existence.

WHAT EMPLOYERS CAN DO

Measures and actions that employers can take to promote the creation of meaning

Courses of action

Examples

Job crafting

Increase possibilities for job crafting

  • Consider the possibility of implementing workplace interventions (see box below). They have practical applications and can produce positive results for both employees/workers and organizations.
  • Be attentive to employees proposing minor changes, “shapings” or adjustments at work. Their suggestions can have a big impact and are often inexpensive to implement.
  • Be flexible when considering the physical setup of your workplace. Allow employees/workers to choose where to work in terms of their physical location in an office or building. This can empower them. If they have an opportunity to work in proximity to co-workers or colleagues they like, their interpersonal relationships can give them new meaning and boost their commitment to work.
  • Consider including employees/workers in managerial decisions that impact their responsibilities. This can increase their sense of independence.
  • Give employees additional responsibilities but ensure they have the resources to undertake them successfully. Generally speaking, employees react positively to initiatives of this nature. They see them as a stimulating challenge; that they have the power to make a difference in the organization.

Leisure crafting

Recognize the importance of leisure activities

  • Facilitate employees’/workers’ leisure activities outside of work or promote them at work-related social events. Consider flexible work schedules or some form of encouragement, such as sponsorships, to entice employees/workers to participate in activities outside of work.
  • Establish non-professional activity committees in which employees can participate. Where possible, allocate a budget for these initiatives.
  • Avoid pressuring employees to participate in leisure activities. Your efforts may be perceived as forced or intrusive. Treat employees as active agents capable of using work and leisure as they see fit to improve both their professional and personal lives.

A JOB CRAFTING INTERVENTION

The following is an example of a job crafting intervention undertaken in 2015 with Dutch police officers. The intervention was conducted with groups of up to 20 people that were designed to encourage active participation. It consisted of a group training day, four weeks of personal work on job crafting objectives and a half-day, group feedback or brainstorming session during which participants reflected on their individual actions.

  1. Participants mapped all their tasks, requests and resources on a poster.
  2. Participants identified work situations they would like to create, such as the nature of tasks to be performed, interpersonal relationships, and the physical layout of the work space. The poster served as a visual reminder to facilitate this step.
  3. Personal job crafting stories were shared and analyzed by the group.
  4. Each participant developed an individual action plan with specific shaping objectives, such as resource research, demand reduction and challenge research.

An example of a resource search:

“Next Tuesday at 9:30 in the morning, I will ask a colleague for comments about my work on the traffic plan.”

An example of a challenge search:

“This week, I will contact third parties to develop my negotiating skills.”

An example of a reduction in demand:

«Next week, I will perform fewer written tasks and use my travel time to write reports.”

  1. At the end of each week, participants were given time to reflect on their achievements and to make new commitments. For example, “Next Friday, on the way home, I will think about all the things that went well this week.”
  2. The personal shaping plans were finalized after four weeks and participants shared their experiences in a brainstorming session with all other participants.

Source: Heuvel, M., Demerouti, E., & Peeters, M. C. (2015). The job crafting intervention: Effects on job resources, self‐efficacy, and affective well‐being. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 88(3), 511-532.

RECOMMENDATION FROM OUR EXPERT

Job crafting is often viewed as a personal process through which employees/workers create meaning for themselves at work. It is important to recognize, however, that the job crafting process can be encouraged and facilitated by managers/administrators. No one can force an individual to create meaning in his or her work or private life. But there are ways to foster the process.

For example, if an intervention is not possible or considered too costly to enact, managers can give a simple presentation of the job crafting process or some examples of what employees can change at work or in their leisure activities. Manager can inspire employees and give them the tools they need to shape work and leisure.

Another possibility is to ask employees about different aspects of their work. During an annual or biannual evaluation, for example, it may be interesting to ask employees/workers about minor changes that could be made to improve their tasks or environment at work. Such transparency is generally well received and can result in minor adjustments that can make a real difference. Often, such practices also have a positive impact on employee/worker turnover rates.

In sum, it is important to note that job crafting and leisure crafting are not beneficial only to employees. Managers/administrators can also enjoy their benefits!

 

 

TO CITE THIS GLOBAL-WATCH SCIENTIFIC INTERPRETATION

Fouquet, E., Daneau, P., Charbonneau, J. (2018). Job crafting and leisure crafting: creating meaning and fostering commitment to work. Global-Watch Scientific Interpretation available at www.global-watch.com

TO CITE THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE BY THE AUTHORS OF THE STUDY

Petrou, P., Bakker, A. B., & den Heuvel, M. (2017). Weekly job crafting and leisure crafting: Implications for meaning‐making and work engagement. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 90(2), 129-152.

Pin It on Pinterest