Orientation towards work and job crafting

In the last lesson, we looked at the importance of doing meaningful work. However, that might have prompted some of you to think that some jobs are inherently more meaningful than others and if you are stuck with a dead end job, there is no salvation for you. Not so quick!  In this chapter we will look at how you can take any work situation and make it more meaningful and personally fulfilling.

We will look at research by Amy Wrzesniewski and colleagues, especially as related to work orientation and job crafting.

  1. Work as a job: Some people see their work primarily as a way to earn a paycheck. Their primary motivation is money and all they look forward to is vacations and Weekends as in Thank God It’s Friday. These people typically do not feel as fulfilled in their work or are as productive. They of course have life beyond work as in hobbies etc, but they keep their work life and personal life separate.
  2. Work as a career: Some other people see their work primarily as a way to advance and grow in status and reputation. Their primary motivation is status and higher responsibilities and they look forward eagerly to the next promotion. These people have medium outcomes in terms of happiness and productivity.
  3. Work as a calling: The rest if us see work as a calling , as a way to serve people or to make a lasting beneficial impact on the world around us and as a way to express ourselves completely and authentically.. They see their work as a privilege and would continue doing it for free too.  They look forward to more work and more opportunities to have an impact. These people have the best outcome in terms of happiness and productivity as they find their work immensely meaningful.
  4. A calling orientation: One may find a calling orientation in the least likely of people and jobs. If you are like me, you may believe that some jobs are more suited to a calling orientation than others. For example in a hospital setting, doctors as per this line of thought may be more calling oriented than the janitors, whose work is menial. However, Amy’s research has found that each profession has its shares of work orientation. Thus a hospital janitor who defines her role as ensuring hygiene so that patients don’t get infected maybe having a calling orientation, while the doctor for all you know may be in it for just the money.
  5. Job Crafting: You may feel you have little control over how you enact or perceive your work, but you do have some latitude. Job crafting involves changing some aspects of your job or perceiving it is a different way or creating different relationships and emphasizing certain interactions, in the pursuit of a more meaningful work identity. For example, a hospital cleanings staff who is sensitive to how the patients are feeling and thereby taking some time to chat with them and uplift them , or ensuring that the ceiling they stare at is free of troubling distractions , are crafting their jobs to make it more aligned with their view of themselves.

I encourage all of you to creatively craft your jobs and to at least try moving to a calling orientation- it will ensure you find the majority of time you spent at work fulfilling and meaningful. In the next lesson, we will take a look at how to remain motivated at work.

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