Design your job - 4 innovative ways of job crafting


→ Job crafting
→ Motivation and performance in your job

How happy are you with your job? Do you start your Mondays with a big grin on your face or are you more in a Garfield-like mood?

Pew Research Center found that job satisfaction mostly depends on three things: the key elements that define the job, the education required for it, and income earned. If you are currently unhappy with your job, these three aspects may seem especially difficult to change. So how can you become more satisfied with your work besides having a difficult discussion with your boss, going back to school, or sending out resumes? The answer lies in job crafting.

Job crafting is a proactive behaviour of employees like you to initiate change in regards to the demands and resources of their given job. It is a typical bottom-up approach, meaning that you as an employee take initiative and don’t wait for your boss to adjust something. The goal is to make your job more meaningful, engaging, and thus more satisfying. With job crafting, the focus is not only on the job itself, but also on the job environment. It is about redesigning your job so it fits your personal needs and talents. And the best part: you don’t even need to be particularly innovative to do it (but if you want to this article may be a great starting point). 

Why should you care about job crafting?
Even if you are generally content with your work, it is likely that it does not cover all of your abilities and interests. As an approach and mindset, job crafting helps you include more of the things you care about and that you’re good at into your job.
Generally, job crafting has a truly great impact on you as an employee - it makes you more satisfied, engaged, and committed to your workplace. Additionally, you experience more meaning in regards to your work. Your performance will be perceived as better, especially if you are a less experienced worker. 

How can you craft your job?

There are endless possibilities on how to redesign your job - just like the pandemic made us do. Science divides the field up to three areas: task oriented, relational, and cognitive.
Read on to learn about all three. And just for the fun of it I added a fourth :)


  • Go on your own quest
  • “Date around” your co-workers
  • Change your mind
  • Think in circles 

1. Go on your own quest

The first form of job crafting is task-oriented: adjusting the things you do. This includes changing the physical boundaries of tasks such as form (what you do), scope (how big you do it), or number (how many times you do it). This might look like:

  • Taking up some additional tasks, such as letting the intern watch when you do something extraordinary and explaining it to them. Suddenly, you are a mentor!
  • Finding a new way to do something, like using a new software to complete a task. Is there an app for that? An AI? Suddenly, you are a pioneer!
  • Doing something biweekly instead of every week, preparing extra well for the next time. Suddenly, you are an organiser!

Yes, all these could mean more work, time, and effort for you. Ultimately, they are still a chance to follow your passion, to gain more expertise, and to teach a new generation. All these can become important assets in the future and may result in less work in the long run. Here at Spark Works I witnessed some small task-oriented job crafting: Nicolas led a workshop on innovation culture, creating the chance for discussions with other innovators. And whenever she has the time, Jenny supplies healthy snacks for our kitchen, making her a very considerate co-worker.

2. “Date around” your co-workers

The second area of job crafting is relational: change with whom you interact. For example:

  • Offer your favourite co-worker your help with their project. Suddenly, you are working with someone you like.
  • Ask for more (or less) contact with clients. Suddenly, you will have more diverse interactions. 
  • Speak to someone at work you barely talk to about their project. Suddenly, you will gain insight into new areas.

For example at Spark Works I watched several times how people actively ask each other questions about their projects. For example Daniel chatted with Jonas about his project and was able to point out some missing pieces of information. Not only were they supporting each other, they also took the chance to think about new challenges. 

3. Change your mind

The third area is cognitive job crafting. This means changing how you perceive your job. For example:

  • Adopt a different point of view. What would an Australian outback farmer think about this? What would your parents notice about your job? Suddenly, you have a shift in perspective which might lead to new insights or newfound appreciation for your work.
  • Reframe what you do, such as asking the question,  “what is the bigger benefit from this job when I widen its scope?” Suddenly, cleaning the kitchen is an important task to maintain your and other people’s health.

You might roll your eyes at this and think that it’s “lying” to yourself. But this kind of reframing is powerful, and actually something a lot of people do all the time. Our reality is based on the narrative we spin, not only at work. For example if you missed out on dinner with your friends and the next day you learn that the restaurant was terrible - you probably think that you had dodged a bullet (even though you still missed out spending time with your friends). Here at Spark Works not all tasks for the interns are exciting, naturally. For example, Freddy had to pick out a hotel for a meet-up for the new innovation team. Nevertheless, he approached this with great enthusiasm and looked at it as a challenge, seeking out unusual places and finding joy in it. 

4. Think in circles

This is my personal favourite when it comes to job crafting. It is a combination of the first three, proving that these fields are not mutually exclusive, but interact with each other. I call this area “thinking in circles,” because I love a non-obvious title. 

Instead of having a linear mindset, where you think in a straight line from A to B, try to keep the bigger picture in mind. Everything we do is part of a system - from the apple you had as a snack, to the screen you are reading these words on right now, to the means of transportation like micromobility you will use on your way home this evening. This way of thinking encourages you to start taking a meta perspective, thereby making space for  new ideas and creative possibilities. The practices of circular design thinking and systems thinking try to enable this (I added some links at the bottom if you are interested in these topics). 

  • Think about the product or service your employer provides: Where is it interrupted? Where does something end, or when is it thrown into a garbage bin? Where can you pick up where everyone else leaves off? Suddenly, you are an innovator!
  • Reflect on your work and projects and try to think from a systems perspective by zooming in (what are the small things I do?) and zooming out (what does it mean for my… country/city/family what I do?). Suddenly, you will gain a deeper sense of purpose in your work. You’ll glean insights on interconnectedness (which makes you a systems thinker!).

The Spark Works example I have here is a personal one: we were conducting interviews about car maintenance for a client project. Cars are not my favourite topic. But I tried to look at it as a system: Where do the cars come from and where do they end up? What can be done to make car repair more circular? Do car owners even care about this? And what do you know: this resulted in some new interesting questions for our interviews, leading to surprising insights!

In conclusion, there are endless possibilities to redesign your job. It depends mostly on your unique persona, talents and interests. So go on, get proactive and become more satisfied with your job. Go on your own quest, “date” your co-workers, change your mind and think in circles.

Hopefully, these tips and ideas will help you. Do you have any other ideas, inputs, questions, or feedback? I am very curious about your stories (this is part of my job crafting, so I am happy to help and discuss anything in this area with you ;))

Read more about job crafting:

What Job Crafting Looks Like by Jane E. Dutton and Amy Wrzesniewski. Harvard Business Review, 2020

What is Job Crafting? (Incl. 5 Examples and Exercises) by Catherine Moore. Positive Psychology, 2019

Design your own job through job crafting by E. Demerouti. European Psychologist, 2014

Read/watch more about circular design thinking and systems thinking: 

The Circular Design Guide by Ideo and Ellen MacArthur Foundation. 2018

A Definition of Systems Thinking: A Systems Approach by Ross D. Arnold and Jon P. Wade. Procedia Computer Science, 2015

Systems thinking: a cautionary tale (cats in Borneo) by Sustainability Illustrated

Marcia Arbenz
Business & Innovation Intern
With a Masters Degree in Psychology from the University of Zurich including an exchange semester in Sweden and England, Marcia has a strong background in human-centric research. As a curious mind and a creative problem-solver, she has been working in academic research, real estate and for start-ups focusing on parents’ wellbeing or mobility. Her newly found love for innovation and Design Thinking, leads Marcia to Spark Works where she supports the team in research projects, design sprints and workshops.
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