Job Crafting: Older Workers’ Mechanism for Maintaining Person-Job Fit




Wong, Carol M.
Tetrick, Lois E.

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Frontiers in Psychology


Aging at work is a dynamic process. As individuals age, their motives, abilities and values change as suggested by life-span development theories (Lang and Carstensen, 2002; Kanfer and Ackerman, 2004). Their growth and extrinsic motives weaken while intrinsic motives increase (Kooij et al., 2011), which may result in workers investing their resources in different areas accordingly. However, there is significant individual variability in aging trajectories (Hedge et al., 2006). In addition, the changing nature of work, the evolving job demands, as well as the available opportunities at work may no longer be suitable for older workers, increasing the likelihood of person-job misfit. The potential misfit may, in turn, impact how older workers perceive themselves on the job, which leads to conflicting work identities. With the traditional job redesign approach being a top-down process, it is often difficult for organizations to take individual needs and skills into consideration and tailor jobs for every employee (Berg et al., 2010). Therefore, job crafting, being an individualized process initiated by employees themselves, can be a particularly valuable mechanism for older workers to realign and enhance their demands-abilities and needs-supplies fit. Through job crafting, employees can exert personal agency and make changes to the task, social and cognitive aspects of their jobs with the goal of improving their work experience (Wrzesniewski and Dutton, 2001). Building on the Life Span Theory of Control (Heckhausen and Schulz, 1995), we posit that job crafting, particularly cognitive crafting, will be of increasing value as employees age. Through reframing how they think of their job and choosing to emphasize job features that are personally meaningful, older workers can optimize their resources to proactively redesign their jobs and maintain congruent, positive work identities.



Job crafting, Older workers, Person-job fit, Proactivity


Wong CM and Tetrick LE (2017) Job Crafting: Older Workers’ Mechanism for Maintaining Person-Job Fit. Front. Psychol. 8:1548. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01548