When we talk to human resource (HR) managers about what constitutes a job, most point to the many different tasks their organisation expects employees to fulfill as a part of their role. Managers are told to make jobs interesting and the focus of managers and academics has been on allocating tasks that are interesting and meaningful.

But every job contains a mixture of interesting and boring – non-preferred – tasks (like attending some meetings and filling out forms). So the question toask is “how do employees complete tasks that they are not interested in?” and “What impact do these tasks have on the employee’s overall work performance?”AndCentre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing(WOW) Higher Degree Research student member, Vishal Rana, is doing just that.

Vishal_RanaMr Rana(pictured left) suggests most organisations expect employees to engage in Organisational Citizenship Behaviour (OCB): when employees going out of their way to help colleagues or voice their concern that things are not going the way they ideally should. Vishal’s research is questioning what happens when employees experience too many non-preferred work tasks (NPWTs), and whether having to do so prevents them from engaging in OCBs.

In a seminar delivered on Tuesday (11 October), Vishal proposed two ways that may mediate the relationship between NPWTs and OCBs: the relational, and task, crafting dimensions of job design.

“Job Crafting Theory suggests that employees are active architects, not merely passive recipients, of jobs, taking initiative to alter their roles and tasks. This then invites broader considerations of the ways in which they complete their jobs and provide meaning and identity to their work,” explains Vishal.

While his 2016 survey of 136 second-year Bachelor of Business university students (aged 18-46) revealed new understandings of the role ‘task crafting’ plays in the execution of NPWTs and OCB, preliminary analysis of the data does not support the team’s hypothesis that a ‘relational crafting’ had a mediating role.

Speaking to the third part to of his study, Vishal added:

“The stronger an employee’s perception that tasks are non-preferred ones, the weaker their motivation to participate in OCB; but this was anticipated.”

As Mr Rana and his supervisors — Professor Peter Jordan (WOW), Dr Zhou Jiang (WOW) and Associate Professor Herman Tse (Monash) – continue to delve into the data, he concluded the seminar with intentions for building upon the research:

“Conducting field, laboratory and longitudinal work to test the validity of our findings is a next step, as is an exploration of whether other outcomes such as stress, also inform the relationship between NPWT and OCB.”

Further information about the findings can be found by contacting Vishal directly: [email protected].

(This story was authored by Vishal Rana and Clare Inwood with edits 16 December, 2016 by Peter Jordan).