Last year I was invited to participate in the EAWOP Conference in Oslo (European Association of Work and Occupational Psychology). Unsurprisingly, I was asked to contribute on the subject of Employee Engagement and was intrigued by some of the other sessions. I mention two aspects here.
Job Crafting is defined as the changes individuals make in their job demands and job resources.
“Self-initiated change behaviours employees engage in with the aim to align their jobs with their own preferences, motives, and passions” (Tims & Bakker 2010). This is based on the JD-R model (Bakker & Demerouti 2008, 2014) which stands for Job Demands and Job Resources. Job Crafting then is creating the balance between job demands and the resources – job and personal – available to meet the demands.
So on the one hand you have physical demands, emotional demands, mental demands and workload. On the other, feedback, coaching, social support and autonomy.
- Low demands and low resources leads to apathy
- High demands and low resources leads to burnout
- Low demands and high resources leads to boredom
- High demands and high resources leads to work engagement
Employees would be encouraged to increase resources, reduce demands and seek challenges. The benefits of this approach are cited as wellbeing, satisfaction and work engagement which leads to organisational performance.
I mistakenly thought that work engagement was simply the Nordic expression for employee engagement, but there is a potentially significant difference.
Work engagement is defined as, “A positive, affective-motivational state of fulfilment that is characterised by vigour, absorption, and dedication” (Shaufeli & Bakker 2003, 2004, 2010).
Work engagement therefore is very task oriented. It focuses on the job in hand as defined significantly by the employee. Given that employees have had a major input into crafting their jobs, it is reasonable to conclude that they are more likely to reach that affective state. However that only satisfies one half of the employee engagement construct of Alignment + Commitment. Many of these people could be highly committed but not necessarily working in a way that is aligned with organisational objectives.
Evangelia Demerouti was in my session so we had a discussion around work engagement not necessarily driving organisational performance and she conceded that they had not considered the alignment issue.
Work engagement from our perspective is too narrowly defined around the role to the exclusion of organisational need. And job crafting while a good way to deal with issues around performance, wellbeing, and satisfaction; has to be constructed around the performance management system with significant regard to what the organisation requires.