With organizations changing at a rapid pace and the job market becoming more competitive, few people are able to find the perfect job. As such, many job-seekers accept positions that are not tailored toward their personal strengths or interests. But why should the original design of a job prevent employees from redefining the job to fit their personal strengths and interests?
WHAT IS PERSON-JOB FIT?
Researchers and practitioners are actively focused on improving person-job fit (PJ-fit), which refers to the alignment between a person’s characteristics (e.g., knowledge, abilities, needs, and preferences) and the characteristics of the job. Because PJ-fit can affect employees’ job satisfaction, engagement, and performance, organizations often focus on recruiting and selecting people they believe ideally fit specific jobs. However, PJ-fit misalignments are bound to happen due to poor hiring decisions and jobs evolving over time.
THE RESEARCH STUDY
Several researchers (Kooij, van Woerkom, Wilkenloh, Dorenbosch, & Denissen, 2017) sought to find a solution to this challenge. They hypothesized that job crafting, or employees taking the initiative to change the scope of their job activities, could improve PJ-fit by empowering employees to align their current jobs with personal strengths and interests.
In the study, participants were employees working in different departments at a Dutch healthcare company. Each participant was randomly assigned to one of two groups. Those randomly assigned to the first group were told they were placed on a waiting list for the job crafting training. Those randomly assigned to the second group actually participated in the job crafting training. During the training, participants in the second group were asked to reflect on their job, as well as identify their strengths and interests. Then, the participants were asked to create a plan for crafting their job toward their personal strengths and interests. Later, a survey was administered to gauge how well all participants had crafted their job.
The findings of the study were conflicting. Of those who participated in the training, older employees experienced an increase in PJ-fit due to job crafting toward their strengths. In contrast, younger workers who participated in the training were less likely to job craft toward their strengths, and subsequently experienced a decrease in PJ-fit. The researchers speculate this effect could be due to older workers being more aware of their strengths, while younger workers may adversely react to the intervention because they are less aware of their abilities.
PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR ORGANIZATIONS
The present study provides organizations with a tool that can be used to increase employees’ ability to job craft. Additionally, the study’s findings suggest older employees may see an increase in PJ-fit by participating in the training. The researchers propose that the job crafting training could help with motivating and retaining aging workers, which is a challenge faced by organizations worldwide. Finally, the researchers encourage practitioners to use their experience and knowledge to adapt job crafting trainings to be equally beneficial for workers of all ages.
Kooij, D. M., van Woerkom, M., Wilkenloh, J., Dorenbosch, L., & Denissen, J. A. (2017). Job crafting towards strengths and interests: The effects of a job crafting intervention on person–job fit and the role of age. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(6), 971-981.