We have already argued that probation workers contend with turbulent social, economic and political conditions (Davidson 1976; Mawby and Worrall 2011) and are subjected to converging pressures from the government, management and the media. The probation service as an organization and front-line probation workers have to find ways to respond to these ‘new realities of the workplace’ (Naus et al. 2007: 684) if the organization is to survive and be successful and if employees’ work is to be meaningful and fulfilling. In this chapter we consider the ways in which probation workers manage their careers and the extent to which they can exercise control over their work. We examine their coping mechanisms and the ways in which they manage their self-presentation. We will argue that the responses by probation workers to these pressures can be modeled by drawing on concepts discussed in Chapter 1, namely Hirschman’s (1970) concepts of ‘exit, voice and loyalty’ plus ‘neglect’, extended by Naus et al. (2007) to include ‘organizational cynicism’, by McLean Parks et al. (2010) to include ‘organizational expedience’ and by us to include ‘edgework’ (Lyng 1990, 2005). It is beyond dispute that the job of the probation worker has changed dramatically in recent decades and that this has resulted in a considerable degree of pessimism, negativity and distress about both the future of the work and the ability of individual workers to cope with multiple pressures. Nevertheless, our research suggests that many probation workers not only cope and survive in these difficult conditions, but actively gain job satisfaction. In this, they are not dissimilar to statutory social workers who, despite the often extreme demands of the work and unrealistic expectations of the media and the public, remain a group that reports relatively high levels of job satisfaction (Collins 2008; Collins et al. 2009). Taking pride in doing ‘dirty’ work that others might be too squeamish to undertake is also a factor (Simpson et al. 2012: 9). In this chapter we explore how probation workers ‘craft’ their jobs in order to remain motivated, cope with the inevitable demands of the job and respond to the adverse working conditions

about which so much has been written. We start with the following working definition of ‘job crafting’:

Job crafters are individuals who actively compose both what their job is physically, by changing a job’s task boundaries, what their job is cognitively, by changing the way they think about the relationships among job tasks, and what their job is relationally, by changing the interactions and relationships they have with others at work.