Coffee Talk Digest: Crafting Meaningful Work

What is job crafting?

“…what employees do to redesign their own jobs in ways that foster engagement at work, job satisfaction, resilience and thriving.”   – (Berg, Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2010)

Amy Wrzesniewski, Ph.D.

Amy Wrzesniewski, PhD

Amy Wrzesniewski is Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Yale School of Management, Yale University. Her research explores how people make meaning of their work, with a focus on the impact meaning has on employees and the organizations in which they work.

Watch her May 2014 Leader Series webinar, Crafting Meaningful Work. A synopsis of the webinar and references are provided below. 

Job crafting can help employees find meaning at work.

Three components of job crafting:

  • Task crafting: altering the number or nature of task of their jobs
  • Relational crafting: changing their interactions with groups, people.
  • Cognitive crafting: changing the way you perceive the impact of your job

So what?

  • Job crafting influences what, how, when and with whom work is being done.
  • High prevalence – job crafting happens across industries.
  • Changes the meaning and purpose of work.
  • It’s portable and shifts the method to having a meaningful worklife to the employee, out of the employer’s hands.

Now What?

  • Employees can feel empowered in their jobs if they undertake job crafting. Transfers employers power to employees.
  • Employers can help by boosting autonomy, building developmental plans with employees, and communicating strategic goals.

Work Orientation:

Employees generally fall into one of three work orientations, or how they view their job:

  • As a job
  • As a career
  • As a calling

Orientations are equally spread out across the population – about 33% for each. Older employees tend to associate their jobs as a calling more often.

Positive outcomes of employees who feel their work is more meaningful:

  1. Greater work motivation
  2. Decreased absenteeism
  3. Improved work behavior
  4. Greater engagement
  5. Increased job satisfaction
  6. Increased empowerment
  7. Decreased stress
  8. Improved individual performance
  9. Greater sense of personal fulfillment

1 (Hackman & Oldham, 1980; Roberson, 1990)

2 (Wrzesniewski, McCauley, Rozin, Schwartz, 1997)

3. (Berg, Wrzesniewski, Dutton, 2010; Bunderson & Thompson, 2009; Wrzesmiewski & Dutton, 2001)

4. (May, Gilson, Harter, 2004)

5. (Wrezesniewski et al, 1997)

6. (Spreitzer, 2006)

7. (Elangovan, Prinder & McLean, 2010; Locke & Taylor, 1990)

8. (Hackman & Oldham, 1980; Wrzesniewski, 2003)

9. (Kahn, 2007)


• Employees who view their work as a job work fewer hours, miss more days of work.

• Employees can craft their job to increase meaning and job satisfaction.

• Having control over when you do non-pleasant tasks can minimize their impact on you.


“Job crafting creates a path to meaningful work.”

“You can engage in job crafting without telling your boss.”


Tools & Resources: 

Job Crafting™ Exercise

Members, please share your job crafting resources, experiences or questions in the comments section below! 



Resources for Further Learning:

  • Interview with Dr. Arnold Bakker. Dr. Arnold Bakker is a leading organizational behavior researcher and Division Advisor who is a leading researcher on job crafting. Recently, Jessica Londei-Shortall caught up with Dr. Bakker to discuss his conservation of resources theory, how leaders can empower their employees’ to job craft, and future challenges for researchers:

With the introduction of job crafting by Wrzesniewski and Dutton (2001), scholars and practitioners have shifted their understanding of how to create meaning at work. Job crafting is the “process of employees redefining and reimagining their job designs in personally meaningful ways,” (Berg, Dutton, & Wrzeniewski, 2013, p. 81). This bottom-up approach is in contrast to job design, which is a largely top-down method of developing jobs that are inherently more meaningful.  Job crafting is described as changing the boundaries and conditions of the job tasks, job relationships, and the meaning of the job, and it emphasizes the agentic potential of the employee.Even though it is a promising construct, different perspectives (and measurement tools) emerged in the last few years making the results non-comparable. We responded to this issue by (1) offering an integrated and holistic perspective on job crafting, and (2) developing a holistic measurement tool that may be applicable to a wide spectrum of work contexts (from nonsupportive to supportive), professions (from public servants to entrepreneurs), and self-starting initiations (from conservative to radical).

When focusing on organizational wellbeing, wellbeing assessments and workplace wellbeing programs can happen at three distinct levels regardless of organization structure or size – at the employee level (Me), at group level (We), and at the organizational level (Us). Job crafting is conceptualized as a group level strategy.

This article presents a 3-day lecture series on Positive Organizations as part of the Executive Masters in Business Administration (EMBA) at Sydney Business School, Australia. Wellbeing interventions are mentioned, including one that connects job crafting to strengths assessment, knowledge use and spotting in groups.

The authors present the findings of a study that looked at the effects of proactive job crafting behaviours on daily and momentary (task-level) work engagement.

In this recorded webinar as part of IPPA’s Positive Psychology Leader Series, Michael F. Steger, Ph.D. presented his latest research on meaning – the conceptual refinement of the construct, its relationship to quality of life, and current theory, assessment, and research on meaningful work. 

Relevant Citations:

Bakker, A. (2010). Engagement and” job crafting”: Engaged employees create their own great place to work.

Bakker, A. B., Tims, M., & Derks, D. (2012). Proactive personality and job performance: The role of job crafting and work engagement. Human relations, 65(10), 1359-1378.

Berg, J. M., Dutton, J. E., & Wrzesniewski, A. (2008). What is job crafting and why does it matter. Retrieved form the website of Positive Organizational Scholarship on April, 15, 2011.

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.

Berg, J. M., Dutton, J. E., & Wrzesniewski, A. (2013). Job crafting and meaningful work. Purpose and meaning in the workplace, 81-104.

Leana, C., Appelbaum, E., & Shevchuk, I. (2009). Work process and quality of care in early childhood education: The role of job crafting. Academy of Management Journal, 52(6), 1169-1192.

Le Blanc, P. M., Demerouti, E., Bakker, A. B., Fraccaroli, F., & Sverke, M. (2017). 3 How Can I Shape My Job to Suit Me Better? Job Crafting for Sustainable Employees and Organizations. An Introduction to Work and Organizational Psychology: An International Perspective, 48-63.

Lyons, P. (2008). The crafting of jobs and individual differences. Journal of Business and Psychology, 23(1-2), 25-36.

Mäkikangas, A., Bakker, A. B., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2017). Antecedents of daily team job crafting. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 1-13.

McClelland, G. P., Leach, D. J., Clegg, C. W., & McGowan, I. (2014). Collaborative crafting in call centre teams. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 87(3), 464-486.

Tims, M., Bakker, A. B., & Derks, D. (2012). Development and validation of the job crafting scale. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80(1), 173-186.

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.

Tims, M., Bakker, A. B., Derks, D., & van Rhenen, W. (2013). Job crafting at the team and individual level: Implications for work engagement and performance. Group & Organization Management, 38(4), 427-454.

van Wingerden, J., Bakker, A. B., & Derks, D. (2017). The longitudinal impact of a job crafting intervention. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 26(1), 107-119.

Van Wingerden, J., Bakker, A. B., & Derks, D. (2017). Fostering employee well-being via a job crafting intervention. Journal of Vocational Behavior.

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. (2014). Engage in job crafting. In Jane Dutton and Gretchen Spreitzer (Eds.), How to be a positive leader: Insights from leading thinkers on positive organisations. SF: USA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.