Imagine what it would be like if you could develop your own job description.
Research has shown it improves the bottom line when business leaders empower employees to create their own jobs — it's called "job crafting" — that better match personal interests and job skills. But little research was done to consider what job crafting does for employees.
Central Michigan University industrial/organizational psychology doctoral student Minseo Kim and her faculty advisor Terry Beehr found that workers also are happier and more committed to the jobs they crafted.
“What this study shows is that if the employees
feel more connected to their jobs first, they will be happier in life, and that
will help improve productivity.” — Terry Beehr
Such results have the power to lead workplaces to get rid of standard job descriptions and have employees create their own.
Kim said their research increased understanding of employee wellness through job crafting. It also connected empowering leadership to career success as well as physical and psychological well-being.
"Organizations may encourage their supervisors to promote job crafting, which will help create a productive and healthy workplace," she said.
Redefining employment improves personal lives
Kim actually brought the research idea to Beehr. She was curious whether job crafting helps employees pursue meaningful career goals as well as feel happy and healthy in life beyond how they do on the job.
"As the work environment becomes more dynamic, organizations need proactive self-initiated employees to gain competitive advantages through them," said Kim, of Seoul, South Korea. "Most prior studies have focused on consequences of job crafting, and research questions on why employees engage in job crafting are not well addressed."
Kim and Beehr studied 325 full-time employees over two months.
Their paper "Can Empowering Leaders Affect Subordinates' Well-Being and Careers Because They Encourage Subordinates' Job Crafting Behaviors?" recently was published in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies.
Kim and Beehr found the key to successful job crafting starts at the top.
Organizational leaders need to encourage employees to look into creating their own job descriptions. This will inspire employees, boost their confidence and make them feel more in control of their professional careers and personal lives.
"Businesses traditionally focus on job production and then look at empowering their employees," Beehr said. "What this study shows is that if the employees feel more connected to their jobs first, they will be happier in life, and that will help improve productivity."
Moving forward with research
Kim said their research sample consisted of relatively young employees. She is confident the research model also can apply to older employees, explaining it would be interesting to examine the degree to which empowering leader behaviors influence job crafting among older employees.
Kim has worked with Beehr on more than 10 research projects. This is her fourth published peer-reviewed article, and she plans to work as a university professor and continue her research interests.
"His expertise and perspectives always helped me develop and elevate the nature and quality of my research," Kim said of Beehr.