Transforming Workplaces through Work Design

In today’s dynamic and ever-evolving work environment, businesses are realising the importance of creating fulfilling and engaging roles for their employees. This is where the concepts of work design, job crafting, and job design come into play. These strategies not only help employees feel more connected and satisfied with their work but also contribute to the company’s overall profitability.

## Understanding Work Design

Work design refers to the structuring and organisation of work tasks, roles, and responsibilities. It encompasses the way that jobs, teams, and organisations are structured and how they interact.

The goal of work design is to create jobs that are meaningful, engaging, and satisfying. It is also about shaping the work environment in a way that promotes productivity, employee well-being, and organisational effectiveness.

Professor Sharon K Parker, a renowned researcher from Curtin University and member of The Centre for Transformative Work Design, has extensively studied work design.

Her work supports this theory in that well-designed jobs can contribute to mental health, job satisfaction, and increased productivity.

## The Power of Job Crafting

Job crafting, a term coined by researchers Wrzesniewski and Dutton, is a proactive and strategic approach where employees themselves reshape their own job to make it more meaningful.

It involves altering the tasks, relationships, and perceptions of the job to align it more closely with their skills, interests, and passions.

We all have tasks we hate and Job Crafting is less about eliminating everything we DON’T want to do a much more about utilising our individual strengths and being able to contribute more meaningfully so that when we face the unfavourable tasks (like for some might be excel spreadsheets, completing forms, data entry etc) it comes with less friction as we tap into our intrinsic motivations that are driven by our larger sense of purpose.

Job crafting allows employees to take ownership of their roles, fostering a sense of autonomy and competence. It empowers them to transform their current job into their dream job, without necessarily changing their job title or position.

We should note this does demand a certain leadership style. That is the more modern and reported to be more effective style of leadership which is a servant/coach style of leadership or what I term as ‘Collaborative Leadership’.

## Job Design: A Strategic Approach

Job design is the process of defining how work will be performed and what tasks will be required in a given job. It includes specifying the contents, methods, and relationships of jobs to satisfy technological and organisational requirements as well as the social and personal requirements of the job holder.

All sounding very technical isn’t it.

Generally, speaking Job Design is done by managers. It relies on their ability to understand the tasks jobs are required to fulfil and how to design a way that these are effectively accomplished, whilst also ensuring teams remain fulfilled while doing these.

Some examples include:

Org structure design, direct reporting lines, reviews, job descriptions, job rotations, structures, pay grades, career progression etc

A well-designed job should be structured following key elements that involve task, motivation, resource allocation and rewards.

So whether its coming from managers as job design or the employee themselves through job crafting you can adapt the below key elements.

4 key elements:

Job rotation.

Fairly self explanatory, but allowing employees to fill someone else’s shoes can give them a better understanding of different areas of the business and a more in-depth view of how the organisation runs overall.

This can also prove useful in succession planning, minimising skill gaps, and keeping employees engaged and adaptable to ever-changing roles.

Job simplification.

Job simplification is the act of removing tasks or responsibilities from a role to make it more specific. You could choose this for a couple of reasons.

First, the job has taken on more responsibilities over time and is no longer manageable for one person, or second, you want to create a role focused on specific tasks to become productive at completing them.

Job enrichment.

job enrichment refers to creating opportunities for an employee to find greater satisfaction in their current role. This could be done by grouping related tasks to create role clarity, helping the employee build relationships and role significance by introducing new partners and stakeholders, or finding opportunities to provide developmental feedback and career pathing.

Job enlargement.

Job enlargement refers to adding responsibilities to an existing role. This enables the employee to learn new skills and work on new tasks related to their current area of work. For example, when I was in a sales role I was consistently asked to present to the team on various topics. I loved it! My manager could see I loved it and the team appreciated comms coming from someone in the filed facing the same issues. It was win, win, win!

This can break up the monotony of BAU by adding variety to keep them engaged and can also allow them to stretch their legs and learn or practice other skills that can benefit them into the future.

A well-designed job can improve job satisfaction, increase quality of work, and reduce job-related stress. Let’s look at the benefits to business more closely.

## The Benefits to Business

A workforce that feels connected to their work and finds it meaningful is not just happier but also more productive.

Research shows that companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%. This is because when employees are engaged, they are more committed to their work, have lower turnover rates, and are more likely to go the extra mile for their organisation.

Furthermore, companies that prioritise job crafting and job design often enjoy a more innovative workforce. As employees align their roles with their strengths and interests, they bring more creativity and problem-solving skills to their work.

10 ways it benefits business

1. Increased Employee Engagement:

When employees have the ability to shape their own roles, they are more likely to engage and take ownership of their work. This can lead to higher productivity and efficiency.

2. Higher Job Satisfaction: Employees who are able to influence their job roles are likely to have higher job satisfaction, which can improve morale, reduce turnover, and increase loyalty to the company.

3. Better Utilisation of Skills: Allowing employees to shape their roles can help businesses to better utilise their skills and talents. Employees can focus on areas where they excel, which can lead to better results.

4. Innovation and Creativity: Empowering employees can also foster a culture of innovation and creativity. When employees have the freedom to shape their roles, they may come up with new ideas or approaches that can benefit the business.

5. Attracting Talent: Businesses that empower their employees can be more attractive to prospective employees. This can help businesses to attract and retain top talent.

6. Flexibility and Adaptability: In a rapidly changing business environment, having employees who are empowered to shape their roles can make a company more flexible and adaptable. Employees who are empowered are often more willing and able to take on new challenges and adapt to changes.

7. Employee Growth and Development: When employees are empowered to shape their own roles, they have more opportunities for personal growth and development. This can lead to a more skilled and versatile workforce.

8. Improved Customer Service: Employees who are empowered are often more motivated and committed to their work, which can lead to improved customer service. They can use their unique skills and talents to provide better solutions to customers.

9. Cost Savings: By reducing turnover and increasing productivity, businesses can save on costs associated with hiring and training new employees, as well as lost productivity due to disengagement.

10. Building a Positive Company Culture: Empowerment can contribute to a positive company culture where employees feel valued, trusted, and respected. This can enhance the overall work environment, making it a more enjoyable place to work.

## Getting Started with Job Crafting

All of us benefit from being more intentional and designing of our work. To begin the process, here are four key steps:

1. Self-Reflection: Encourage employees to reflect on their strengths, interests, and passions. This will help them identify the aspects of their job that they enjoy and those that they would like to change.

2. Task Crafting: Employees can alter the number, type, or nature of their tasks. This could involve taking on new tasks that align with their interests or delegating tasks that they find less fulfilling.

3. Cognitive Crafting: This is about changing how one perceives their job. By reframing the purpose of their tasks, employees can find more meaning and satisfaction in their work. In conclusion, work design, job crafting, and job design are powerful strategies that can transform the workplace.

They empower employees to shape their roles in ways that bring them joy and fulfilment, leading to a happier, more engaged, and more productive workforce. This not only benefits the individual but also contributes to the overall success and profitability of the company.

4. Relational Crafting: This involves changing the nature of interactions with others at work. Employees can seek out relationships that are enriching and reduce interactions that are draining.

A caveat here though is that not all interactions are able to be reduced.

In this case it is hugely beneficial to to uncover the root cause of why those interactions are draining or full of friction. This is where an exploration of team alignment can take teams to a level of struggle to a level of high performance.

I have facilitated many of these sessions and the result of creating an atmosphere of open communication can be enormously beneficial to teams, their experience of work and the outcomes they achieve for the business.

I’m passionate about helping leaders empower their teams and get the best from them. If you have a team that is a little stuck or a high performing team who are on the brink of burnout reach out. I’d love to help.

I find my projects solely from positive word of mouth and referrals from my clients.

If you enjoyed this article and know someone who might benefit please forward it on or follow my Linked In Newsletter ‘Work by Design’!



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