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When Work Gets Hard, Hardly Work.

I had a phone call with a candidate the other day that really opened my eyes to something. For the sake of this post, we’ll call him “Bob”. I called Bob about his application and, after a few seconds of talking to him, didn’t really like him as a candidate for the role. For some reason, he just seemed to irritate me. He mentioned his previous experience and how knowledgeable he is in the field, started giving demands right from the beginning about what he would need from us, the employer. I don’t know why, but it just irked me. But then, he said something that really made me reconsider him altogether.

Bob told me he just quit another job that was similar to this one and the reason was because when someone accomplished a goal or just did their job well they would celebrate. They would play loud music and have competitions to win prizes. It was a very immature setting and he was used to a more professional atmosphere at work. “You don’t come to work to have fun,” he said, “you come to work to work!” I’m an old soul and as much as I agreed with him, I had to tell him that our company was very similar to the one he’d just described, right down to the excessive celebrations when an accomplishment is made. We talked for a little longer about how things have changed over the years and eventually decided (mutually) that this wasn’t a great fit for him.

We’ve adapted to make the workplace more enjoyable, just so we can keep people around longer. But, have we gone too far? Daily, we tread the waters of age discrimination. We’re not allowed to reject a candidate for being too old or too young…but what if we know that they just simply won’t enjoy it here? What if we know that they won’t be successful in the type of environment they’ll be working in, and what if we’re setting someone up for failure? These questions haunt me sometimes. In reality, I want the job to be appealing to everyone I talk to. With a younger generation taking over the workforce, changes are inevitable. At what point, though, do we stop trying to “improve” the morale with new/fun/exciting ways to motivate employees (which might be taking a financial toll on budgets) and remind people that this is work – sometimes it’s not fun and you just have to suck it up? Maybe by combining employment experiences from the past and present, we can create a bigger pool of jobs for job-seekers and a bigger candidate pool for employers. Or maybe we’re heading past the point of no return, and soon our offices will be filled with air hockey tables and unlimited supplies of candy (that does sound appealing) in order to get us through the day. I guess we’ll find out.

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