The Science & Art of Job-Crafting

Work is broken!

If our work was an item of clothing, for most of us, it would be a straight-jacket. Or at best an ill-fitting suit. Modern working practices are failing us – constraining rather than amplifying our diverse skills, strengths, passions and interests.

No wonder globally over 90% of us aren’t engaged, excited and energised about our jobs.

  • What if we encouraged people to customise their work the way a tailor would the final fit of a semi-tailored suit?
  • What if we started to shape work around people rather than expecting people to contort themselves around their jobs constantly?
  • What if we took a more personalised approach?

As a society and in business, people embrace opportunities for the personalisation of products and services. We enjoy and value having our individual style, beliefs and passions reflected in what we do and how we do it.

So how can we bring this personal touch to our work?

The answer lies in Job Crafting. Job Crafting encourages us to explore how we act, interact and think about our tasks, thoughts and relationships and to redesign and personalise aspects of our work in ways that foster engagement, job satisfaction, resilience and thriving. Job Crafting is a research-informed and evidence-based approach, and the investigation into this practice is compelling. Job crafting boosts innovation and agility, nurtures Health and wellbeing and amplifies meaning, purpose and productivity.

The practice of Job Crafting is a growing field of academic study but to date the concept and mostly untapped and unknown from an organisational perspective. There have been some early adopters including Google, Logitech, Burts Bees in the US, Wideroe Airlines in Norway and Connect Health, the University of Leeds and Virgin money in the UK.

We’re holding an event for senior HR leaders and Chartered Fellows of the CIPD on 2 October at Manchester Met University All Saint’s Campus (M15) from 18:00-20:00

We’ll share insights and case studies from the organisations above, and others, who have found innovative ways of encouraging a personalised – human-centred – approach to work.

Our event will be filled with practical job crafting strategies, studies and stories, based on the latest science, combined with the author’s extensive research and applied experience.

Leaders will be given practical tools to explore, experiment with and embed a more personalised approach to work, which creates and sustains engagement and exceptional people experiences.

We’re delighted to welcome Rob Baker who is a specialist at bringing positive psychology and exceptional performance to workplaces.

He is the founder and Chief Positive Deviant of Tailored Thinking, a leading evidence-based positive psychology, wellbeing and HR consultancy and brings zest, curiosity and a collaborative spirit to everything that he does.

Rob’s ideas and research on job crafting and how people can personalise work and bring their whole and best selves to the workplace have been presented at academic and professional conferences around the world.

Putting the human back into HR, as a leader and consultant, Rob has delivered sector-leading and award-winning people initiatives and business transformation projects. Rob is world-leading when it comes to designing and delivering job-crafting interventions in the workplace.

Rob is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and a Chartered Fellow of the Australian HR Institute and has a first-class Masters in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Melbourne, where he continues to collaborate with the University’s world-leading Centre of Positive Psychology.

‘Robots will take my job’ anxiety

But a lack of planning and investment around staff poses a risk to employee and business outcomes, highlight a clear role for HR

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will have a widespread but mixed impact on jobs, new research shows. Overall, the introduction of these new technologies at work will see job opportunities grow, by enhancing roles, employee skills and their pay. However, lack of thought and planning on how people and technology work together is reducing productivity improvements and increasing the risk of people being left behind.  

This is according to a new report, ‘People and Machines: From Hype to Reality’ from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development and PA Consulting, the innovation and transformation consultancy. It is one of the first comprehensive surveys of both employees and employers that explores how AI and automation are already being used in UK workplaces. It shows that AI and automation are radically shaping work and jobs and that, overall, this is happening in a way that is creating better, more fulfilling jobs for employees. 

However, despite the significant impact that these technologies are having on the workforce, HR is often the least likely business function to be involved in decision-making and implementation for these new technologies. In response, the CIPD and PA are calling for HR and effective people strategies to be at the heart of integrating AI and automation into the world of work.

The CIPD and PA’s research is based on a survey of 759 UK employers, of which 226 have made investments in AI and automation over the past five years. It found that:

  • Almost a third (32%) of UK organisations have invested in AI and automation in the last five years.
  • Overall, 35% of employers saw more and 25% saw fewer jobs in the areas most affected by AI and automation (others saw no change).
  • 44% of employers introducing AI and automation believed the main jobs affected had become more secure, just 18% said they became less secure. 
  • Two in five employers (41%) reported pay increases for the roles most affected by AI.

When speaking to employees at two firms that are already using AI and automation, the research shows more of a ‘mixed bag’ when it comes to outcomes for individuals:

  • 54% of employees said that AI or automation had not helped them to do their job better, 28% felt that it had and 19% neither agreed or disagreed, highlighting the risk to performance gains.
  • 43% of workers said that that they were learning new things and a third (33%) said they were doing more interesting tasks (only 6% noted a decrease).
  • Employees were split on how AI and automation have affected the mental demands of their work (28% said it had increased, 25% said decreased).
  • One in four (24%) have experienced a decrease in their workload, with a similar proportion (23%) experiencing an increase.
  • Employees said that AI and automation make their work faster (45%) and 16% reported that the pace of their work has slowed down (others noted no change).

The research shows that AI and automation are bringing huge change to workplaces. However, it also found that employers are often not managing these significant changes with an effective people strategy. In particular, HR is missing from key conversations on the introduction of new technology.

The research revealed that HR is the business function that is least likely to be involved in investment decisions on AI and automation (being involved in just 55% of cases) and is involved in just 45% of implementation processes. Instead, functions like IT, research and development (R&D), production or operations, purchasing and procurement and marketing and sales are more likely to be involved in both investment and implementation decisions. 

This represents a serious risk to organisations as it stands to negatively impact a number of business outcomes including employee well-being, productivity, customer service and workforce planning. 

Peter Cheese, chief executive for the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said: 

“The emerging scale of the impact on the world of work is huge, affecting the very nature of work. The impact on people must be more carefully considered so that businesses make appropriate investment decisions, embed technology in the right way and create jobs and roles that are good for people rather than negatively affecting their performance or well-being. 

“This indicates a real need for HR and longer-term workforce planning, but too often HR struggles to be part of the conversation. Instead people professionals should be taking the lead, orchestrating the debate on who does what work, where, when, and how technology interacts with those processes. To get to this point, they must improve their understanding of AI and actively pursue a role in shaping how new technology is used from the very outset of discussions.”

Katharine Henley, workforce transformation expert at PA Consulting, said: 

“Our research shows that it’s a long way from the ‘robots will take my job’ anxiety that dominates the media’s image of AI and automation. There’s a real opportunity for HR to equip businesses to think big and seize the opportunity to transform themselves. 

“HR is the essential glue between people and machines. It has a pivotal role to play, for people as well as business, in making AI and automation work. We have moved on from simply configuring the technology, plugging it in and switching it on. We have an opportunity to make a difference to people’s working lives by considering how we use technology to enhance the employee experience. Our research found that AI/automation can increase well-being by providing more control, more freedom over where people work and increasing more complex or interesting tasks. If HR teams work closely with IT to plan their future organisation in the right way, our future workforce could find the workplace more rewarding and enjoyable. Younger generations are looking at the workplace as somewhere to curate different experiences. Employers that focus on the creation of a better employee experience will attract the best talent.”

People and machines: Infographic

This article first appeared in the CIPD’s press releases

Reducing ill health-related job loss in Manchester

An opportunity to feed in your views on a public consultation with the DWP and DHSC on measures to reduce ill health-related job loss

Despite record rates of employment, the gap between those who are non-disabled/enjoying good health and those who are disabled/suffering long-term health conditions is significant. Around 300,000 people with a long-term mental health condition fall out of work every year, and disabled people are twice as likely as non-disabled people to drop out of work.

‘It is estimated that 150,000 Greater Manchester residents are out of work due to their health – making up almost 2/3 of unemployed adults in the city region. For people aged 50 to 64 in particular, ill-health is the main barrier to work.’

Working Well Early Help

Health is everyone’s business is a consultation, seeking views on the different ways employers can take action to reduce ill health-related job loss with the support of the Government.

The consultation focuses on four main areas:

  1. Amending the legal framework to encourage early action to support individuals when they are absent from work and to facilitate more conversations to agree on effective workplace modifications;
  2. Reforming of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) so that it is better enforced, more flexible, and supports the lowest-paid employees;
  3. Measures to improve the availability of occupational health (OH) services for employers that are of high-quality and cost-effective
  4. Improving advice and support from the Government for employers to understand and act on their responsibilities.

The Government is committed to consulting and working with all devolved administrations. As such, the Department for Work & Pensions and the Department of Health and Social Care will hold two interactive discussions sessions in Manchester on: 

Thursday 29 August 
KPMG Manchester,
1, St. Peter’s Square,
Manchester M2 3AE

Many employers already see the case to invest in health and well-being. However, some, particularly smaller ones, might not have the knowledge or time to support their employees with health conditions, even when they want to. Attending a session will deepen your understanding of Government’s role in this agenda and provide you with the opportunity to discuss potential changes with other business professionals and policy officials in our region.

‘Being able to work is vitally important to the health, wealth and wellbeing of our residents, and to our city-region as a whole. It is a tragedy that people who fall out of employment because of their health can soon end up more likely to die or retire than ever get back to work.’ 

Sarah Price, executive lead for population health in Greater Manchester


In addition to face-to-face events, there will be the opportunity to hear more about the consultation via a webinar.

Please contact the DWP for more information 

Labour shortages – Alarm is sounding for employers with low-skill vacancies

New CIPD/the Adecco Group research shows a brightening picture on pay but tightening labour market poses problems for employers

The sharp increase in non-EU citizens coming to work in the UK has helped to ease recruitment difficulties for medium and high-skilled roles, according to new research. Despite employment growing strongly over the past year, the number of applicants chasing each medium and high-skilled vacancy has fallen relatively modestly compared with the same period last year. However, the number of people applying for low-skilled roles has dropped by a fifth over the past year, suggesting that some employers may face significant recruitment challenges in the coming months.

The survey also shows that the overall fall in the number of applicants is putting upward pay pressure on a significant minority of employers. Median basic pay expectations in the private sector increased from 2% to 2.5% compared with three months ago. Median basic pay award expectations have also risen in the public sector from 1% to 1.5%. Overall, the average basic pay increase remains steady at 2%.

These are the findings of the latest quarterly Labour Market Outlook from the CIPD and the Adecco Group, a survey of 2,104 employers which explores their pay and hiring intentions. 

Labour shortages – Alarm is sounding for employers with low-skill vacancies 

Overall, the survey data shows that the supply of labour is constrained compared with previous years, particularly for low-skill vacancies. Where employers last filled a low-skilled vacancy, they received a median number of 16 applicants for that role. This compares with 20 applicants in the summer 2018 report and 24 applicants in the summer 2017 report. This may be partly due to subdued growth in the annual increase in the number of EU-born citizens in employment, which remains well below the pre-referendum average. 

In contrast, the supply of medium-skilled and high-skilled applicants has held up relatively well. This can be partly attributed to the sharp increase of 123,000 non-EU citizens in the UK workforce between Q1 2018 and Q1 2019, the majority of which will have been subject to a skills threshold.  This compares with a decrease of 6,000 between March 2017 and March 2018 in the number of non-EU citizens in employment in the UK. This increase has been mainly driven by the buoyant recruitment of nurses and medical practitioners, partly following a relaxation to remove doctors and nurses from the Government’s migration cap in June 2018. According to the latest official data that looks at employment levels by country of birth, non-EU citizens account for more than a third of the 364,000 increase in employment in the UK between Q1 2018 and Q1 2019*. 

Recruitment Outlook – jobs growth set to continue but at a slower pace

Employment confidence remains robust but saw a modest fall in the last quarter. The report’s net employment balance – a measure of the difference between the proportion of employers who expect to increase staff levels and those who expect to decrease staff levels – has fallen from +22 to +18, the lowest number recorded since Winter 2017. Employment confidence is highest in Wales (+29), Scotland (+21) and lowest in the East Midlands (+7) and the East of England (+7). The labour market remains tight, which is putting pressure on employers to increase pay.

Pay outlook – promising signs of pay pushing above inflation 

Overall, median basic pay increase expectations remain at 2% for the 12 months to June 2020. Median basic pay increase expectations in the private sector have increased from 2% to 2.5% and from 1% to 1.5% in the public sector, compared with the last quarter. 

Of particular note is the increase in the number of employers expecting a basic pay increase of more than 3% in the next year. More than a third of employers (36%) plan to increase basic pay by at least 3% compared to 28% of employers in the same period last year. 

The key factors driving pay awards of 2% or more are inflation (43%) and the going rate of pay elsewhere (37%). Recruitment and retention difficulties were also a factor (29%).

Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser for the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said:

“Amidst the current political uncertainty, the UK labour market is holding up surprisingly well. Labour demand remains strong, and the robust supply of non-EU workers has helped many employers meet this demand; partly owing to the Government’s decision to remove the migration cap for doctors and nurses. 

“This has been key to freeing up visa capacity for employers in other sectors who have sensibly been able to resolve skill shortages by hiring non-EU migrants. Looking ahead, the Government’s post-Brexit immigration policy must demonstrate similar levels of flexibility to ensure that such shortage occupations benefit from a more generous minimum salary threshold. 

Davies continues, “However, the alarm bell is sounding for employers trying to fill low-skill roles, many of whom are still in wait and see mode. It’s essential that those employers are prepared for reduced numbers of candidates and further restrictions to low-skill labour planned from 2021 with a workforce plan.” 

Alex Fleming, Country Head and President of Staffing and Solutions, the Adecco Group UK and Ireland, said:

“In our tightening labour market ensuring businesses have the right supply of talent isn’t a new issue and during these uncertain times the “grow your own” mentality has become more important than ever for organisations. Workforce planning comes into play again as organisations need to be constantly looking forward and anticipating their future needs and training their own talent accordingly. 

“Planning ahead for workforce strategies is a long-term solution that now needs to be addressed more urgently than ever so the labour market can thrive with the right talent in place.

“Conversely, in the shorter term imaginative recruitment strategies are also needed to find the right kind of skillsets to bring into organisations, for example unlocking hidden pools of talent can hold considerable value for employers and should be seriously considered as an important source.”

This press release was first published on 12 August by the CIPD. Read the press release.

Future skills-based immigration policy

The government’s white paper on a future post-Brexit immigration policy outlines proposals that look set to have a dramatic impact on organisations employing low-skilled workers. 

The end of EU free movement will see EU citizens become subject to the full reach and force of the UK immigration rules and any EEA nationals wanting to come to the UK, under the new regime, will have to apply for and secure the relevant permission. The new rules, different rights and revised processes, if implemented, will be the biggest shake-up in the UK’s immigration regime since it joined the European Union.

What would the impact of a 30k minimum salary threshold be on your organisation? 

David Frost, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, recently commented that

‘in the first half of 2019 businesses that tried to recruit encountered difficulties securing candidates with the right skills.’

further adding the importance that after Brexit ‘the UK’s immigration policy does not make the domestic skills challenge worse.’

Lorne Vary, Chief Financial & Business Development Officer recently commented that the £30,000 salary threshold is ‘yet another slap across the face for UK manufacturers’ and warned that it would

‘erode diversity within the workplace, increase recruiting competition, pushing salary budgets to the limit, as employers battle to secure the right candidates with the right skills and behaviours.’

We want to hear your views on 30k minimum salary threshold and other proposals including those listed below, to help inform the CIPD’s response to the future skills-based immigration system consultation. 

  • How can the government mitigate the cost and administrative burden of a future post-Brexit immigration policy? 
  • How are you going to respond if you are unable to recruit non-UK nationals in the same numbers as before? 
  • How have you been responding to the fall in EU net migration since the Leave vote so far?

Join us to share your views

We are holding a roundtable discussion on Monday, 12 August 2019 from 17:45 to 20:00 in central Manchester. Particularly suitable for Immigration specialists and senior HR professionals we want your voice to be heard.

Whether you are a small, medium or large business, a growth driver of the Manchester economy, established or starting out with a desire to succeed in growing your business, creating jobs and prosperity and attracting investment into the area your views matter.

Discuss your concerns with influential figures

The CIPD is a member of the Employers’ Advisory Group on immigration and participates in discussions on policy, system design and implementation. Gerwyn Davies, Public Policy Adviser at the CIPD will lead the roundtable, accompanied by Heather Rolfe (National Institute of Economic and Social Research) and Louise Haycock (Partner, Fragomen LLP).

This is your opportunity to have your say on the proposals outlined in the UK’s future skills-based immigration system white paper, so bring your views, your questions and your concerns to share. Our roundtable takes place under the Chatham House Rule which means you can speak openly in the knowledge that neither your identity nor your affiliation will be shared.

Venue & Refreshments

We have chosen Ziferblat Edge Street for our roundtable as it is an ideal venue for after-work meetings. Help yourself to the refreshments available free of charge. On offer, 43 different kinds of tea, special Ziferblend coffee, hot chocolate and soft drinks. There’s never any shortage of cakes, biscuits, brownies, fruits, breads or cereals. You can also make use of the kitchen area to make yourself a toastie or sandwich.

We look forward to welcoming you,

Emma Brookes
Public Policy Adviser
CIPD Manchester Branch

About our speakers

Gerwyn Davies, (Public Policy Advisor CIPD). 
Gerwyn advises on a wide range of labour market issues. With lead responsibility for welfare reform, migration and zero-hour contracts at the CIPD, Gerwyn has led and shaped the policy debate and achieved substantial national media coverage through his publications. In addition, Gerwyn authors the CIPD’s high profile and influential quarterly Labour Market Outlook. Gerwyn is an experienced labour market commentator, making regular appearances in the national media and on other public platforms, including several appearances before the House of Commons Work and Pensions select committee.

Gerwyn on Twitter @Davies_Gerwyn

Heather Rolfe (National Institute of Economic and Social Research) 
Heather’s immigration research focuses on employers’ use of migrant labour and skills and workable immigration policies.

Louise Haycock (Partner, Fragomen LLP) 
Louise attends a variety of working groups with government officials to represent the needs of employers and is working with clients to prepare for a new immigration regime in the UK to ensure that they remain employers of choice for a migrant workforce. 

Date & Time
Monday, 12 August 2019
17:45 to 20:00 (BST)

Ziferblat Edge Street
23 Edge Street
M4 1HW Manchester

Through its independent research and insights, the CIPD influences policy and practice to ensure that work benefits everyone – making the CIPD a trusted adviser to individuals, employers, media and policy makers.