Episode 13 – Season 2

Published: November 29, 2021

Dr Benjamin Ritter, Founder of Live for Yourself Consulting | Putting a square peg in a square hole – job crafting and wellbeing

Dr Benjamin Ritter, Founder of Live for Yourself Consulting | Putting a square peg in a square hole – job crafting and wellbeing

Dr Benjamin Ritter is a doctor of organisational leadership and the founder of Live for Yourself consulting. Ben is a self-confessed “values and leadership geek” he is also a full-time leadership and career coach. 
 
Dr Ritter works with companies to help them improve retention. In the current highly challenging labour market for employers, this is something that all of fastP.A.Y.E customers are taking very seriously as many have significant staff shortages. Dr Ritter believes that employees leave because they are trying to find a better fit and that something called Job Crafting is the way to solve this. So, in this episode, we explore this subject to understand how it can lead to a happier, more stable workforce.

Dr Ritter and Ian discuss:

– What is Job Crafting?
– The limitations of a Job Descriptions.
– How much of a job needs to deliver true meaning for an employee and what to do with all those tasks that nobody wants to do.
– The perfect culture for retention.

What is inspiring Dr Ritter:
Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall

Contact Dr Ritter:
https://www.liveforyourselfconsulting.com/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/ritterbenj/

Transcript

Introduction
Welcome to the Workplace Wellbeing Podcast, the podcast for wellbeing professionals that looks at best practices in organisations that care about their people, and which keeps an eye on the growing number of suppliers in the wellbeing space.

The workplace wellbeing podcast is sponsored by fastPAYE a financial wellbeing solution that facilitates flexible salary advances. It also provides access to financial education, a benefits assessment calculator, and a host of other financial wellbeing tools. fastPAYE he is part of the work tech group that includes ShopWorks Workforce Solutions, and SolvedBy.Ai.

ShopWorks offers Scheduling and Time and Attendance tools that improve your workforce management processes. Whilst SolvedBy.Ai provides unique artificial intelligence products that deliver optimum staffing levels and improve employee retention.

Ian Hogg
Hi, and welcome to another edition of the workplace wellbeing Podcast. I’m Ian Hogg Chairman of fastP.A.Y.E. Today I’m joined by Dr. Benjamin Ritter, a doctor of organisational leadership and the founder of Live for Yourself Consulting. Ben is a self confessed values and leadership geek. He’s also a full time leadership and career coach. Dr. Ritter works with companies to help them improve retention in the current highly challenging labour market for employers. This is something I know that all of fastP.A.Y.E customers are taking very seriously, as many have significant staff shortages. I’m sure some of our listeners are in the same boat. Dr. Ritter believes that employees leave because they are trying to find a better fit. And that something called job crafting is the way to solve this. So, in this episode, I want to explore this subject some more, and understand how it can lead to a happier, more stable workforce. Hi, Dr. Ritter, thanks for joining us.

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
Thank you so much for having me.

Ian Hogg
You are welcome Ben, I can call you, Ben?
Dr. Benjamin Ritter
Please

Ian Hogg
Fine, why don’t why don’t we start? I think it’d be great if you could tell the listeners a bit about your background, how you ended up being so passionate, you know, about aligning job descriptions, to the skills of an individual.

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
I think all this comes down to this concept of self leadership and personal accountability and responsibility for your own job satisfaction. And I went through, I’d say the majority of my career, not realising that I was the one responsible for my happiness at work. And I mean, the last, the last time that I was kind of in that mindset was when I was in health care, I had a pretty good job, I initially was in quality improvement, and really focused on improving clinical outcomes for patients, really, really motivating really meaningful to me at the time, even though I kind of fell into that position. Due to our recession, due to looking for a bit, you know, looking for a job, any job would have worked as long as it was in something to do with health. So, I didn’t really choose it, but I ended up there. And I did pretty good at it. When you’re high achiever, you tend to get promoted. So, I was promoted into an executive level role. And it was like someone stripped away all the meeting that I had, from my, from my position from my work. And when you had meeting and then you don’t have meaning, and no one’s there to really guide you, there’s no clarity around what you’re supposed to do you have full autonomy, what some people would say is great. It tends to start to spiral out of control. And when I say it, I mean really just your resentment towards work, because you’re going in and you’re not really feeling like you’re in the right place. You know, you wonder what happened, and what did the organisation do to create this. And then at the same time, maybe you don’t enjoy your leadership, the leadership doesn’t providing that clarity, or is the negative to the people around you, and you see the issues and the holes. And so instead of actually doing something about it, I was in the mindset where I was blaming the organisation about, you know, for it and about it. Luckily, I had kind of a little bit of an epiphany moment when I was walking into work one day, and this is when I was, I was coming home and just complaining, I was going into work, trying not to work, I would literally leave a couple times a day from the office just to go to the gym to go for walks. I would avoid volunteering for projects, they were not getting the best of me work, you could say that. But luckily, I was going into work one day, and just looking around and all the people around me. And it seems like they all felt the same way. Like these walking zombies going into work. Like they were dragging themselves like they had these huge boulders behind them that they would have they were having to pull to go into the office and hit me like why am I doing this? You know, the only person like this boulder I created this. I’m doing this to myself. And I kind of woke up and I said well, why don’t I change it? And so what do I need to change it? And that led me to really analysing doing a really hard audit on what I where I wanted to go with my career, what I enjoyed from work, what I felt was meaningful, who I enjoyed working with what challenges I want to face. And that led me to go into my boss and having a conversation about the type of work that I wanted to do. Now, it didn’t work out at that organisation, but that was kind of the foundation of Wait, we can fix things like we can make ourselves happier.

Ian Hogg
Okay, and then from there use that you went on to set up live for yourself? Or did you do something between the two?

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
Your career is a journey. And so different things come together to create different things, right? It’s just you never really know what’s going to add into itself to make this like new product. And you can have some level of intention and interest and passion. But lift yourself consulting came from a culmination of events. So, for example, I went to my boss and I said, Look, did hard on it, and what I really enjoy, and right now I’m in this, I’m in 16 months of leadership training I have I have my own, like meeting with the director of people here. I like what they’re doing want to get involved in some of their projects. This is the direction that I want to invest my time. There was an interesting statistic recently that said, if 20% of your job is meaningful, you can understand the why behind it, then you’ll be fulfilled. It’s like this interesting point of investment where that’s all you really need to say, Okay, I’m loving, we’re going into work every single day. So, I started doing stuff with the corporate office in this in this realm and talent development and organisational development at the time, I was a manager of business operations, I kind of really, I was actually just on the executive team, just making everything work that needed to work at the hospital. So, I started doing some of those projects. But we ended up getting acquired for the second time that I was there. And everyone that I was working with a lot of them lost their jobs. And a lot of the projects I was working on, they got pause because they were getting centralised. So, then the thing that I felt was meaningful was gone. So, I had to choose what was I going to do. So, I started looking for jobs in this space just to learn more to get involved. And it was difficult at the time. And I and my background, I was an entrepreneur at heart, I had a side business going on, I never really bought into the normal nine to five of work. And so, I thought to myself, well, I probably could start a business in this. I probably I’m coaching at this time I have experience in career development in the past, I probably could do that. But I’m not ready yet. I’m not exactly sure where I want to create this business where I want to invest. So, what is another way that I could become credible in this space that I can learn where I want to go in this space, and it was going back to school to get my doctorate. And I found a great programme, organisational leadership, I applied a bunch of different places I got into one that I really liked. And long behold, on the first trip out there to start to start classes while I was still working full time, I was on the plane and decided now’s the time to start a new business. I know where I want to go, I created the live system, the new framework. And that was back in 2000 and ended 2015 2016. And, you know, consistency compounds and started working with clients built new frameworks based on those experiences did a lot of brand building content development, left healthcare in 2018. And now I’ve been working solely in leadership development, career development organisational leadership since

Ian Hogg
Okay, good, you know, interesting story. Good background. Thanks for sharing that, Ben. So, let’s move on a bit towards job crafting. So, you know, what is the what’s the problem behind this? You know, what is what are the problems in the workspace that you see, and how prevalent are they?

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
Well, the biggest problem is that people don’t really understand what job satisfaction is. And Job satisfaction is really the actual work that you do the meaning behind the work that you feel and the people that you engage with on a daily basis at work. And so a lot of organisations think that, you know, people want to be just be happy to be here, or they should be, you know, they should be happy with the PTO benefits that we give them, or the other things, and those are great and all, but we’re not really understanding the people, the people that are feeling those things that are you know, that we’re trying to prevent or to fix. And so often I’ll work with clients, and this, you know, I went through this, where you’re blaming the organisation for how you feel, you’re waiting for them to give you things I can’t tell you how many senior leaders that I’ve worked with, too, that are waiting for their bosses, to tell them what to do, or to how to feel that they are responsible for their levels of satisfaction when all they need to do is actually go have a conversation. And now you have to know what to have a conversation about. And the importance of this too is that leaders then now know what questions to ask their employees to help them find out the answers themselves. But if we don’t, if we don’t take control, if we don’t feel that we’re responsible for our own levels of job satisfaction, then we are basically saying that I’m going to base how I feel about work and what I do in my career, on the external environment on the things that happen, day to day the things that my boss say to me the things that my co workers say to me the projects that I get, instead of actually saying that I have control over this I’m going to take action to make sure that where I’m at is more enjoyable.

Ian Hogg
Fine that’s interesting. What was also interesting they’re Ben, is, quite often people I speak to on the podcast is there about having a programme where they help the employer be a better employer. But we’re actually what it sounds like you’re saying is a lot this is the responsibility of the employee, the person who is who wants the fulfilling job? How if I’m an employer, do I get my employees to to have those conversations with me? How do you sort of kickstart this conversation?

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
Well, part of being a leader is guiding your employees to the information that you want them to know. It’s actually all almost all of it is that. So for example, if I want to go to an employee and say, What is what work do you actually love to do? And what work don’t you love to do? Then as a leader, you should, and your weekly one on ones, and your goal setting meeting if you’re in if you have provoked performance development process, be going your employee and saying, What’s work that you really love? What some work that you really love to doing this past year? Or were the aspects of that they really love doing? What work? Are you really excited about potentially doing? What work was really tough for you? What worked in you enjoy? Why didn’t you enjoy that? So you give the same questions that you would ask of yourself to the leader to ask the employees, and you use that information to build the performance development plan for each individual person that you that works for you?

Ian Hogg
And is that what you would call Job Crafting? Or is that just one element of it?

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
Well, there’s different components of job crafting. But yeah, so job crafting in its foundation is just saying that a job is not concrete, that a job is not its job description. A job is flexible, based on the needs not only of the employee, but of the organisation. And if we take that mindset towards work, then we’re able to retain our employees, and engage them and also utilise them in a way that benefits the organisation as a whole, as well as benefits the employee. So I mentioned earlier, job crafting is really three main areas, it’s the work that someone does, I would even say it’s the work that they want to do as well. So it’s that it’s that clarity of future work. It’s the social relationships that the person has. So how are you creating connection and engagement and cross functional collaboration? Or just how you mediating conflict as well, that same time? Are you working with people that you really enjoy working with and connecting with individuals that are going to help your career so this could even be skipped level meetings for cross functional meetings as well that the leader helps facilitate. And then it’s the meaning behind the work. So it’s the leader actually, either being very clear about the vision of the organisation, the impact of the work, but then also figuring out why that employee comes to work each and every single day, and highlighting that through a variety of ways.

Ian Hogg
Yeah, and I think one of the other points, you mentioned earlier, bone, you said about, I think I picked up, you said, only 20% of it was did you say needs to be meaningful or is meaningful? And because I suppose the question I’ve got is, you know, not everyone knew, there’s always a few jobs that nobody wants to do that needs to be sort of shared around to bug fixing in software. But you saying that the whole job doesn’t have to be meaningful, but enough of it has to be to add value.

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
Yeah, there’s a portion. So there’s, there’s an interesting statistic that came out recently about how just 20% of a position has to you people have to connect to meaning within that. So if 20% of the work of your job is meaningful and impactful to you willing to do the other 80%. It also challenged and say bugs, some people really love bug fixing. And if you don’t love bug fixing, then you can find a way to make that meaningful to you. I think Anna had an example when I work with clients, it’s like, Look, if you are a leader, and you have an employee that is doing work that they don’t like to do, they don’t feel as meaningful. But that work really needs to get done in some portion of their job. How do you make sure that that person one has the space to feel good before and after that that work? So they’re doing something they enjoy before after? Or has the space maybe they have a little bit more last meetings around that type of work, where they’re doing it during a time of day that is a little bit less stressful? And how do you ensure that you that you recognise them for that work, so if you don’t like doing something and the leader knows you don’t like doing it that leader better be very appreciative that you’re doing it at the same time. So, there’s just being conscious of what people are going through and what they’re feeling about the work that they’re doing. And then even potentially creating an environment that works for them hey, look, you know, you’re doing this this data entry piece of work, you can do that at home, so work from home on Fridays when you do this work. So, it’s just being it’s being conscious.

Ian Hogg
And it sounds to me like it’s very fluid. You said job crafting. You know, when we first spoke a few weeks ago, I sort of my preconception was the job call thing was going to be about, you know, getting the job description right at the beginning, getting some employee involvement in it, and then off, you went for another couple of years and nothing happens. But sounds to me, like you’re saying is very fluid, you should be continually involving this during the, you know, an employee’s term with the company. Is that Is that a fair comment?

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
Very fair, it’s moving away from feeling like you are held in handcuffs by a job description, saying that, okay, so these are the gent, sorry,

Ian Hogg
there you go. You go, actually, oh, it’s,

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
I understand that there’s a certain like, people component of this, okay, we need them, we need their job to be listed on paper for whatever reason, and a time, you can, you can adapt to the needs of the organisation, if you’re, if it’s not listed on the job description doesn’t mean that the person doesn’t get to do it. And honestly, from a, from a talent sourcing perspective, there are too many people in the world that read a job description as if it’s a Bible, right? If it’s the word of law, oh, I don’t have this one bullet point. So I can’t, I’m not going to apply to this position, which right now is dangerous, because we need all the people applying to jobs that we can get. And so be careful, even when you are crafting job descriptions that you are leaving room for people to apply, they may not feel that they’re completely qualified for the job, because you can be missing out on some really great candidates. If you’re, if you are just keep if you’re using that job description as if it is the word of law.

Ian Hogg
No understood. And if if we go back to sort of the term job crafting, is that a you know, is that a term that you use within your business? Or is that a wider term within academia or in in consulting that I might come? I’ve not come across it before I’ve spoke to you, Ben.

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
Yeah, I actually came, it’s funny, I came across job crafting during my research. And so even though I was doing it for myself, after my time in healthcare, it was something that came up when I was so my published research is on the person job value congruent the relationship between person job value congruence and intrinsic and extrinsic job satisfaction. So basically, if your values aligned to the job that you have your perceived values, then do you have an increase in job satisfaction in which parts of job satisfaction, but job crafting was huge part of that huge motivating factor? When I was researching what keeps people what increases retention, when increases positive work behaviours. So, it’s very much embedded in into the research into the literature in academia. If you go to an organisation, some of these kind of more hip modern organisations, they tend to call it like gig working so that and so sometimes people may label Oh gig working on these, like part time jobs, we’ll know. I know, organisations that labelled the movement of employees in an organisation into jobs to where they are needed as gig employees, gig workers. So basically, you have an individual with a talent, high achiever, let’s say for this example, in learning and development, but they also they’re not only good at curriculum design, but they’re good at facilitation, they’re good at coaching. They’re good at performance development, planning, conflict management, they’re good at maybe website design, and this is kind of my I’ve done all these different things for an organisation, when you have a project, you’re able to move them into these different departments, these different groups, this type of work for certain individuals is working keep you can keep a high achiever that way while developing competencies and skills to help them grow in an organisation.

Ian Hogg
Yeah, now, this is interesting, I think, I suppose another thing that springs to mind is that you know, probably the baby boomer generation, were always sort of there’d be a job for life, and then sort of millennials have been encouraged to think of moving between multiple different jobs throughout a career. And actually, what you’re sort of describing is almost the possibility that somebody could stay in the same organisation, but do multiple different jobs. Or it’s sort of an endless stream of Evolve jobs. So at that same organisation, do that again, do you think that’s a fair, a fair sort of summary?

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
Yeah, that’s it the greater scale, I think, the smaller scale, it’s someone being able to go to their leader at the time or the leader going to the employee and saying, what do you want to do? And getting them involved in that? And, you know, what is it? What are you struggling with right now at work? And helping them solve that and help them you know, coaching them to solve that? Who do you really want to work with on this project and helping them work with that person? But then on the bigger scale, it’s, what do you want to do in this organisation? You know, if you think about why do people leave, right? It doesn’t really matter. If someone leaves your team, it matters leave your organisation, and people leave because they want to increase in title. They want more money. They want in taking away like location from this too. There’s some location preferences and stuff. They want to learn new skills, they want to feel more connected and meaning and find like meaningful work and that’s like a generalist. A Marine and such and they maybe want to be challenged, they want to meet new people, they want novelty, you can do all those things within an organisation, if you have that information from the employee, it is so expensive to lose people, if you if the other option would be to help them grow within your organisation and get the same benefits that they would within your company, then outside it, you have can you think about if you’ve just had people that, like people that know your company, so well, because they’ve worked maybe three or four jobs in the company while moving up in their in their career? You’d have a pretty strong group of employees there.

Ian Hogg
Yeah, so sort of, you can imagine an ideal culture, you know, from your point of view would be somewhere where the you know, it was it was an open debate between every employee knew that they, they encouraged to develop their job role and make sure they’re enjoying it and craft it themselves. And where the employer is entirely open to that debate. And he’s encouraging and trying to bring forward those ideas. Would that be your sort of ideal job, you know, employer employment culture in an organisation for you?

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
Very much. So nothing crushes an employee more that when they go to a leader with with a question or some information, and the leader says No, thanks, there’s, there needs to be a healthy debate, there needs to be some sort of effort into trying to get that employee involved in work that they really enjoy? And if I mean, if the answer is no, you have to be prepared for this person to leave. If you’re not able to do anything for their request, I think and I see this so often, where I’ll be working with a client, and they you know, most of the time, actually, when they bring up these types of questions, they get exactly what they were looking for. And it’s pretty neat to see how if, if someone can have this conversation with the leader than the leader is able to, to make that make it work for them. But sometimes there’s a complete, no, that happens. And if that’s the case, you have to understand if you’re not giving your employees the things that they think that they want, right? If you’re not even having a conversation with them about it, they’re going to be either less engaged, less productive, which is worse than than leaving, or they’re going to leave. Yeah, so your employees are actually thinking these things to themselves. They’re thinking, I don’t feel my job is meaningful. They’re thinking, I don’t like this this work. They’re thinking, I really can’t stand Joanne or it’s or Scott, you know, like, and so as a leader, you need this information. This is just information to help you retain your employees, and that’s can help you then craft their job more appropriately.

Ian Hogg
Yeah, no, I think, you know, I suppose the opposite to the ideal culture is one where, well, obviously, where those conversations don’t happen, but where the organisation only finds out in the exit interview, why the person wanted to leave, you know, or what they really wanted to be doing whilst they were there. And of course, it’s always too late, then, isn’t it? Because the employee by then has found what they want to do? And he’s going to go and give somebody else a chance to, to deliver on their on their wishes. Do you come across that a lot

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
on how real are they? How real are those exit interviews?

Ian Hogg
No, no, fair comment. Now, I know what you mean is, you know, people will tell you what they think you want to hear. And when they tell you the truth, then I think that’s a valid point. But, but, but you still occasionally do get told, you know, I left because, you know, I wasn’t enjoying the job. And I’ve, I want to be moving into something that I enjoy more or is more challenging or things like that. But yeah, it’s too late to find out then you’ve already lost the person. Okay, well,

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
I also would say that like when somebody leaves, that the things that they tell you aren’t as influential as the things that people tell you when they are there. Yeah, it is very easy to brush off that someone told you that, oh, you know, this leader was negative. Okay, great. So, you’re, you’re gone though, so it doesn’t really matter as much anymore. And, or I wanted to do this for my job. Okay, but you’re gone. So it doesn’t matter. It’s much easier to impact change when you have the information currently at your organisation.

Ian Hogg
No, no, I agree. I think that’s the, that’s the difference between the good organisation is having those conversations as part of its culture throughout the employment time. And the bad one is waiting until the person’s left. And it’s like, like, you’re suggesting it’s almost a pointless conversation, other than to ticking the box that says do an exit interview. Okay, what about what sort of projects are you working with till we see some of the stuff you do with employers or you know, maybe anonymously but you know, the some of the real world projects you get involved in.

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
A lot of the bulk of it would be manager training and performance development creations or performance management creation, as well as like leadership off sites. And a huge part of I work to isn’t embedding values within an organisation. So, it’s a lot of its communication. A lot of its structural, a lot of it is coaching of senior leaders. And a lot of it is just like the processes of talent development. Now, that’s a portion of my work. And then the other work is helping people. And not just organisations really figure out what they want to do in their career and get there. So that could either be leadership development within an organisation, or could be one on one, coaching and guiding an individual to find an organisation that lets them do these things. So, if you wanted to pick a specific project right now, and just one of the big ones that I really enjoy is I’m creating a performance performance development process from scratch. So, everything from the goal setting meeting to the weekly one on ones to the, to the quarterly to the quarterly meetings to then the annual reviews, and then that connects to comps and bends.

Ian Hogg
And you geographically limited, or can you do this globally.

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
I actually got my first coaching client from Australia, which is pretty cool. And I’ve worked with a few people in the UK. So not limited globally, I think great as long as the organisation is open to majority of remote work, and then I’m able to travel, like I travel around the US a decent amount. But a lot of the stuff that I do, I’m very much proponent of virtual work, as well as a proponent of getting people in a room and getting people engaged and talking. So really is just more of a blended approach.

Ian Hogg
Okay, and if people want to get in touch with you, Ben, where can they find you? I put some details in the programme notes.

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
Check out my website at live for yourself. consulting.com It’s live for yourself consulting.com and connect with me on LinkedIn, it’s easiest way to probably have a conversation with me, Dr. Benjamin writer, based in Austin, Texas, just was in Chicago, I think it’s as Austin now. But send me a message connect to let me know, you heard me here and let me know what you’re interested in.

Ian Hogg
Okay, listen, I mean, this enjoyed that conversation. I definitely like the idea of trying to improve the ongoing debate about job roles. You know, rather than just be set as a, as a job description, and being static. You know, I think I think you’re definitely onto something there. Like, I can definitely see the value for retention, which is a key issue for a lot of companies right now. But before I let you go, there’s one question I ask everyone. And it’s which book or media is giving you inspiration at the moment and why

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
I really liked nine lies about work by Mark Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall. I’ve really enjoyed that in terms of talent development, it’s, it’s some kind of, it’s more of a cutting edge in terms of their beliefs on what you should do and what you shouldn’t do. Like in terms of ratings, right, what the actual influence and impact of ratings actually look at research and if they’re good or if they’re bad. So I’d say if you’re looking for more, less traditional learning and development, talent development, check that out.

Ian Hogg
Okay, good. Good recommendation. I’ll, I’ll one I’ll check it out. And two, I’ll put a link into the into the programme notes as well. Listen, Ben, this has been excellent conversation. Definitely give me a lot to think about. And, you know, thank you very much for coming on. And thank you, everybody else for listening.

Dr. Benjamin Ritter
Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure.

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