We live in a time when unemployment is low, yet job dissatisfaction is high. Which means many of your employees could be actively looking for something better. What can an employer do to make existing employees feel more engaged and satisfied with their jobs, so they don’t leave? According to Yale professor of organizational behavior Amy Wrzensniewski, the answer is job crafting.

Let employees write their own job descriptions.

Wrzensniewski’s study of workers showed incredible results when employees were given the opportunity to redefine their jobs into something they felt was more meaningful. By giving them power over the definition and purpose of their work, it shifted their outlook and perception of their jobs by, in the words of the study:

“…changing cognitive, task, and/or relational boundaries to shape interactions and relationships with others at work. These altered task and relational configurations changed the design and social environment of the job, which, in turn, altered work’s meaning and identity.”

Job crafting allowed these employees to assess and customize the work they did to ensure they felt they were having an impact. By allowing them to shift things like the quantity and types of tasks they were responsible for, and who they were required to interact with, etc., they created a work environment for themselves that was more appealing.

Throw money at a job, or inspire an employee to want to do that job?

The key takeaway from job crafting is how it helps employees develop intrinsic motivation to do their work. Studies show employees with the highest job satisfaction rates are engaged in their work because they’re self-motivated to do it. While money can be a temporary motivator, it’s nothing more than an external bribe to get employees to do something they aren’t excited about. Eventually, the money motivator fails, and employees end up unhappy again and looking to leave. The benefit of job crafting isn’t just a happier workforce, it’s that it becomes a retention tool, as well. When your employees feel they’ve had a say in defining the job they’re doing, they’re more likely to stay. And since job turnover can be huge cost, keeping good employees can also be a huge savings.