A Job Crafting Example: The Pink Glove Dance

by cv harquail on December 8, 2009

Here’s a real life example of Job Crafting: The Pink Glove Dance.

You may already have seen this video of The Pink Glove Dance, which was created by hospital staffers to raise awareness about breast cancer. I know that as soon as the music started, I thought it would be just like that now-famous wedding procession video (same music, also makes you cry).

But this video is also a great example of ad hoc Job Crafting. Each of the employees who participated in the video is creating an extra level of meaning to their work at the hospital, just by expressing the connection between who they are at work and their personal commitment to breast cancer awareness.

The phenomenon crosses all levels and departments of the organization– you’ve got surgeons, billing clerks and janitors all sharing part of themselves. While you can see why a surgeon might support breast cancer awareness, what’s in it for the billing clerks and the janitors?

Janitors and Job Crafting

The clearest example of job crafting is with the janitors (at minutes :48, 2:56 and 3:25). It was by studying hospital janitors & cleaning staff that Wrzesniewsk, Dutton, and colleague Geleye Debebe first noticed job crafting as a personal meaning-making strategy.

These scholars noticed that the janitors they were studying often went out of their way to engage patients in conversation, or even just silent interpersonal interaction. In addition to mopping up dirty floors, emptying garbage cans and cleaning up wastes the employees also comforted patients and visitors, demonstrated a respect for their privacy and an attentiveness to their needs, and even helped them get the nurse when a nurse seemed to be needed.

Making work more meaningful

Why would janitors make a special effort to converse with patients, especially patients who seemed lonely or scared? Because interacting with the patients helped make their work as cleaners more meaningful. The janitors realized that they could make a difference in the patients’ experiences, and so they learned how to interact with patients in a comforting, human, life-affirming way.

 

Janitors who crafted their jobs this way went beyond being cleaners, and became part of the hospital’s team of healers.

 

cleaner qyuote.tiff

So when Bella says “My favorite part of the Pink Glove Dance was the janitor!”, you can recognize that she’s responding not just to his dancing, but to all that this dancing means.

And a year later, see the sequel, inspired by the first Pink Glove Dance, that includes hospital staff and patients from across the usa!

See Also: How Job Crafting Can Get You Closer To Authentic Work

Citation:
Amy Wrzesniewski, Jane E Dutton and Gelaye Debebe (2003)
Interpersonal Sensemaking and the Meaning of Work
Research in Organizational Behavior, Volume 25, pages 93-135.

Hat tip: Susan Helman

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