Job crafting: it’s here to stay

Enrique Dans
May 1, 2016 · 3 min read

There’s a great article in Fast Company called “Why innovative companies like Google are letting employees craft their own jobs” which looks at job crafting, a characteristic of innovative companies and their approach to attracting and retaining talent.

The big challenge companies face these days is holding onto employees that contribute to their innovation and competitiveness.

While some companies mistakenly believe that people should be glad to work for them, others have realized that employee relations are complex, with few certainties. That person you have come to rely on can suddenly up sticks and move to a rival, and the reasons for doing so can often be relatively trivial and easy to address.

On many occasions, turning the job you have into the job you really want simply requires the right conditions for dialogue, for understanding, and the search for an adaptation to the changing circumstances that take place throughout our lives.

In economies like Spain’s which has a highly dysfunctional labor market and high unemployment, there is a widely held believe that offer outstrips demand and that people should be glad to find whatever work they can. As a result, companies forget about competitiveness, and that is brought home to those that suddenly have to find themselves competing for talent at the international level.

For a growing number of companies, adapting to flexible working hours, extended parental leave, working from home, or other special requirements, is completely normal if this means holding onto somebody, while businesses along traditional lines still insist on seeing their employees as expendable or easily replaced should they choose to leave.

Gaining a degree of independence is very important for people with creative responsibilities, and who know that the muses don’t work office hours.

At the same time, it is easy for long-term employees to look to other companies where the grass seems greener.

People change over time, and the conditions that you hired somebody under a decade ago probably no longer apply: we marry, have children who grow up and then leave home. These all change the way we work and how we establish our priorities or feel useful.

Companies that are able to adapt to these realities will win out over those that play it by the book when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. This flexibility requires communication and transparency if everybody on the workforce is to be treated fairly.

Job crafting means dealing with complexity. Managing more flexible working hours requires the use of technologies that allows employees to do their job from home under the same conditions as at the office. A Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environment can easily turn into a Bring Your Own Disaster situation if the technology support is not in place.

Employees with special requirements shouldn’t be seen as privileged, but as part of a relationship that should make sense for both parties. This requires understanding the mixture of cultural and technological questions that have to be agreed on for work to shift from being simply carrying out tasks to an opportunity for somebody to realize their ambitions.

If you’re not familiar with job crafting, then you need to put it on your to-do list. Twenty years ago, some of the conditions that many of us enjoy as an integral part of our work were unthinkable. Within another 20 years, these will be the norm. If you disagree, if your people management department disagrees, or if it’s still called human resources, as though humans could be reduced to the status of resources, then you should be concerned: job crafting is here to stay and will soon distinguish between those companies where talented people want to work and those where they don’t.

(En español, aquí)

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at since 2003)

Enrique Dans

Written by

Professor of Innovation at IE Business School and blogger at

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at since 2003)

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