Job Crafting and Meaningful Work

Job Crafting and Meaningful Work

By
Justin M. Berg, Jane E. Dutton, Amy Wrzesniewski
Purpose and Meaning in the Workplace. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association,
2013, Pages 81–104

The design of employees’ jobs can significantly shape how they experience the meaningfulness of their work (Hackman & Oldham, 1980; Grant, 2007). A job design is comprised of the tasks and relationships assigned to one person in an organization (Ilgen & Hollenbeck, 1991). However, research suggests that job designs may be starting points from which employees introduce changes to their tasks and relationships at work, and such changes are captured by the concept of “job crafting.” Specifically, job crafting is the process of employees redefining and reimagining their job designs in personally meaningful ways (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001). These changes, in turn, can influence the meaningfulness of the work. By “meaningful work,” we refer to work that employees believe is significant in that it serves an important purpose (Pratt & Ashforth, 2003). We use the term “meaningfulness” to capture the amount or degree of significance employees believe their work possesses (Rosso, Dekas, & Wrzesniewski, 2010). Meaningfulness is associated with numerous work-related benefits, including increased job satisfaction, motivation, and performance (Hackman & Oldham, 1980; Grant, 2007; Rosso et al., 2010). Although we recognize that meaningful work may come with negative side effects (e.g., Berg, Grant, & Johnson, 2010; Bunderson & Thompson, 2009), for our purposes in this chapter, we follow the trend in the literature and treat meaningfulness as a generally positive or beneficial outcome for individuals and organizations (Rosso et al. 2010).