What is Job Carving?

Published September 2, 2022

Job carving is the practice of creating a job tailored towards an employee's skill set.

According to disability job board Evenbreak, job carving "refers to customizing duties or creating specialist jobs for people with disabilities. The idea is to customize a job in such a way that maximizes their time and skills."

Job carving can enable employees with disabilities to maximize their productivity and effectiveness. Those who utilize this trade trick can reap a significant return on investment.

What are the benefits of job carving?

Evenbreak posited that "by (re)designing a position from the employee's perspective, we can begin to think of how the person's skills can contribute to the company, rather than impose a standard and 'fit a circle into a square' approach."

In addition, "employees with disabilities will benefit from customized roles, enabling them to maximize their most valuable skills without their disabilities getting in the way of productivity." Also, "organizations can take advantage of a wider source of talent by opening themselves up to a disabled workforce."

The Neuvoo job directory added, "employers can move away from traditional job descriptions to assign tasks to the 'best man for the job within their workforce while creating new job openings to match the specific skills of a candidate."

Furthermore, job carving "represents a win-win solution for you and your workforce, based on a relationship of beneficial reciprocity. This connection is built on the matching needs, strengths, conditions, and interests of a business and its workers."

All in all, "job carving can be a great solution to finding the missing piece that can take your company to the top." In essence, "tailoring a job to suit a particular worker's abilities, you may be able to find highly skilled employees that can showcase their talents in the tasks they are experts at instead of having their focus diverted to more routine functions."

How can employers' job carve'?

The New Brunswick Association for Community Living surmised that job carving involves negotiating the following with employees:

  • Hours and place of work
  • Identified job duties and responsibilities
  • Work expectations.

Furthermore, they noted that the job carving process includes:

  • Getting to know the job seeker and exploring employment possibilities;
  • Developing a customized employment plan with the job seeker;
  • Identifying and negotiating employment opportunities with local employers; and
  • Supporting the employment opportunity once it has been established.

In more detail, it involves a process in which:

  • The negotiated employment relationship addresses the strengths, interests, and needs of the job seeker and the employer's workforce needs.
  • When designing customized employment, a job seeker is the primary source of information and decides how to explore the job market.
  • The job seeker controls the planning process for customized employment that captures their preferences, interests, and connections in the community.
  • Before planning, time may be required to uncover the job seeker's unique abilities, interests, and needs.
  • In customized employment, work occurs in an integrated and individualized work situation in the community and results in pay at the prevailing wage for the job being completed.
  • In a customized job, the employee has a "personalized" job description and other work terms and expectations that did not exist before the negotiations with the employer.
  • The employee makes a "tangible" contribution to the employer's business or organization.
  • The employer hires and pays the employee directly (although the hiring and interview process may be based on a negotiated arrangement facilitated by an employment specialist).

The Power of the Dream recommended using "a strengths-based approach – identify the individual's needs but also their strengths." They offered the following questions as a way to start doing this:

  • What is this individual good at?
  • What does this individual enjoy doing? (For example, if they enjoy talking with other people, a customer-facing job might be a good fit.)
  • What skills does this individual have? (For example, if they know how to cook, a restaurant or cafe might be a good employer.)
  • What are this individual's goals in seeking traditional employment? (For example, are they wanting to interact with more people? Earn spending money? Learn new skills? All of the above?)

Not for all organizations, but great for many

Organizations that have been the most successful at using this approach to employment understand that the abilities of their employees, when used in a complementary way, can not only improve productivity but also reduce attrition and improve retention. Large organizations and those with diverse roles and duties can often easily modify processes to improve the effectiveness of their employees. For example, a library clerk may be required to hold a valid driver's license so that she can travel to any location and open the doors - but if 90% of her job has nothing to do with these requirements, is it worth losing a good employee when facility personnel may be able to complete this task? The general idea is to be proactive in identifying opportunities to build better employment opportunities that prepare employees for success. That starts with removing unnecessary requirements or tasks that create barriers and add little value. 

This is not to say that all jobs would qualify. Safety positions such as police officers, firefighters, and roles that require technical expertise often have particular essential functions that cannot be changed easily. Still, job carving is an option employers should consider improving access to employment, which − in an environment in which voluntary employment is sky-high − can be mutually beneficial for both employer and employee. 

In summary, employers would benefit from collaborating with their employees on finalizing their employment details, from their duties to other work expectations.

Conclusion

When you craft a job position that hones employees' unique strengths and abilities, they can undergo tasks more quickly and efficiently. They can accomplish more, and you can achieve more results. Job carving can carve a workforce in which every component of your business works in harmony.

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