Is Real Work Supposed to be Fun?

I’m a fan of reading leadership blogs and That’s Why They Call it Work recently got my attention.

For the record, I really admire this author and her style. I was nodding my head in agreement like an enthusiastic cheerleader while reading the article. The author compares ‘old school’ leadership styles of how employees should be loyal company soldiers and do what they’re told vs. a workplace where employees are empowered, have caring leadership and meaningful work.

This article sets up an amazingly positive and progressive concept of how workplaces and leaders should be but you know what they say about something being too good to be true, right?

Not all work can be fun and stimulating

Well this is too good to be true. Workplaces are like families and have various levels of dysfunction from top to bottom.

I have been guilty of saying, “There is no nirvana, that’s why it’s called work.” So while I was agreeing with the words I was reading, my cynical voice was shouting that it’s unrealistic. It’s just not possible or practical to give every employee a job where the work is fun and stimulating. It’s common for people to have parts of their jobs that they don’t like. Equally common is for people to be in a job they hate because they need a paycheck.

The author goes on to say that companies should hire people who have passion for what they do instead of being in it for the money. While that would really be cool, most people work to make a living. It’s the perfect balance when we’re able to do both — love what we do and make a living. But I haven’t interviewed anyone, in over two decades, who didn’t express an interest in the salary for the position they were interviewing for.

Relinquishing the “purple squirrel” mentality

On the topic of hiring, I found the below comment absolutely golden:

When we hire people, we shouldn’t be so obsessive about whether they have seven years of marketing or an MBA or some obscure certification. Employers need people to have some level of proficiency with the major elements of the job. But we put way too much emphasis on formal job requirements, in the stupidest possible way.”

Again, while this concept is progressive and totally rocks, here’s the problem: show me a hiring manager or recruiter who is capable of relinquishing their purple squirrel mentality and willing to be creative in the hiring process instead of looking for a resume that’s a mirror image of a job description. There’s another area that needs fixing and a story for another day.

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So while the perfect workplace leadership scenario and the perfect employee-employer relationships are amazing concepts, we’re not there…yet!

What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments.

Kimberly Roden will talk about Performance Reviews: Why They Do More Harm Than Good at the TLNT Transform conference in Austin, TX Feb. 26-28, 2012. Click here for more information on attending this event. 

This was originally published on Kimberly Roden’s Unconventional HR blog.

Kimberly Roden is the founder of Unconventional HR. An HR pro turned consultant, she has 25 years of progressive experience as a strategic HR and business leader in a variety of industries. Her hands-on and innovative approach allows her to create and deliver HR solutions to meet business challenges and needs by managing human capital, talent acquisition and technology. Connect with her on Twitter at , or at .