Help your employees 'craft' their jobs — no glue required

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Emily Mongan
Emily Mongan

What comes to mind when you hear the word “crafting?” To me it conjures memories of elementary school, where we'd glue together an assortment of foam, glitter and fake flowers until it looked somewhat like a picture frame or keychain. Either that, or the dozens of projects I've saved on my Pinterest board and never actually started.

That's why I had to do a bit of research when this study touting the effects of “job crafting” for long-term care workers came up on my radar this week. Did job crafting involve glitter and glue? Would making macaroni picture frames or one of these guys suddenly make nursing home employees better workers?

As you probably guessed, the answer to those questions is no. According to the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, job crafting “captures what employees do to redesign their own jobs in ways that can foster job satisfaction, as well as engagement, resilience and thriving at work.”

In essence, job crafting gives employees the autonomy to customize their positions to better fit their strengths, passions and motives. As research recently published in the Western Journal of Nursing Research shows, giving long-term care employees the chance to “craft” their jobs doesn't just benefit them — it can help improve quality of care for the residents as well.

The study surveyed a group of 530 eldercare and nursing home employees from Spain and Sweden to assess the level at which they were able to tailor their positions, their perceptions of the care their residents receive, as well as the employees' overall psychological well-being.

Employees who reported higher levels of job crafting activities — such as introducing new tasks suited to their skills or aligning themselves with other workers who share their skill set — also reported higher levels of quality of care for residents living in their facilities. Workers included in the study's Spanish sample also reported higher levels of psychological well-being linked to higher levels of job crafting activities.

“From a practical point of view, it is important to note that job crafting contributes significantly to employees' and residents' well-being,” the study's authors wrote. “Managers should incorporate discussions about job crafting into development planning meetings with their staff because it allows employees to take more ownership of their roles or provide training opportunities to teach employees about job crafting to co-create meaningful and productive work.” 

Of course, limits to job crafting exist in any workplace setting. An employee's passion may be dirt bike racing, but that doesn't mean he or she should be allowed to tear up facility grounds on a bike.  Instead, view job crafting as employees translating their strengths and passions into ways that can benefit the workplace and the people they serve.

As one college lecturer put it in the University of Michigan publication I mentioned earlier, job crafting came down to likening their job as a teacher to their hobby of performing music, and putting on their “performance face” when teaching students.

It might take some time introduce and encourage job crafting within your facility's staff, just as it takes time to craft that perfect macaroni picture frame. But as this research shows, job crafting can have a positive impact on both employees and the elders they care for — and there won't be any glitter to clean up afterwards.

Follow Emily Mongan @emmongan.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.