How to turn a boring job into a meaningful career

How to turn a boring job into a meaningful career

via Business Insider by Shana Lebowitz

Nearly two decades ago, Yale School of Management professor Amy Wrzesniewskiand colleagues conducted a now well-known study on how people find meaning in their work.

The study, which Wrzesniewski described in a recent talk at Google, focused on a cleaning crew at a university hospital, and the different ways individual employees experienced their work.

Of the 28 employees the researchers interviewed, some felt about their jobs the way you might expect — they completed the responsibilities required of them, but didn’t find the work especially satisfying and were there mainly for the money.

Others, however, said they found their work highly meaningful. When they described their daily routines, they mentioned some behaviours that weren’t listed in their job descriptions, like spending time with patients who seemed upset and walking visitors back to their cars (a behaviour for which they could have gotten fired).

The researchers realised there was a fundamental difference between the way those two sets of employees approached their work. The first group completed the responsibilities required of them and interacted with people only as much as was necessary.

The second group, however, engaged in what Wrzesniewski came to call “job crafting.” In other words, these employees moulded their jobs to become more meaningful by adding extra tasks and interactions to their day, and also by changing their perception of their role at the hospital.

In subsequent studies, Wrzesniewski said she and colleagues assigned certain groups of employees at different workplaces to engage in job crafting and found that they were happier and performed better than their coworkers who didn’t go through this process. That suggests that job crafting can be beneficial not just for the individual employee, but also for the organisation as a whole.

When I spoke with Wrzesniewski, she said job crafting can be useful for people “in search of work that feels a little bit more meaningful.” Job crafting, she said, can transform employees from passive consumers to coauthors of their work experience…

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