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My job stinks but the company rocks!

“I only want to work for @?%&$

Sometimes people pause after certain statements that they see as being irrefutable. The pause is often a little longer than usual, and during it, the speaker is often inwardly congratulating themselves on their single-minded determination. “I will work at @?%&$, no matter what it takes. They have an awesome culture, and I want to be part of that awesomeness.”

Having a firm career goal is laudable, but I would like to suggest that even in the touchy-feely world of HR, employer culture certainly should not be the only consideration, and maybe not even the main consideration. Too many people simply want to work for “Company X” no matter what their day to day job will entail. So many column inches are dedicated to the altar of Employer Brand that the nuts and bolts of the everyday reality are glossed over. If you are doing a mundane HR role (or any other role) with little opportunity to make your mark, it doesn’t matter how amazing the culture is – you will be miserable.

Attracting, developing and retaining the best people is at the heart of the HR role. In order to do this effectively, they must work out exactly why people come, grow and stay. The pool tables and team building will add an extra layer, but I suspect that the real reason for their engagement is the content of the jobs themselves. In my opinion, this is an area that deserves some more attention from the HR team….

Is every employee being sufficiently challenged by their job?

It is fair to say that this is high on their list of questions, but judging by the content of some HR interviews, it is not quite high enough. Some HR people have been brainwashed by the “culture, culture, culture” movement that they have taken their eye off the ball with regards to ensuring that their people are being challenged at what really matters. Going on a paintballing trip will make everyone feel great, but giving the top performers a raft of extra responsibilities (and seeing them smash them) will make the whole team feel so much better. When someone else achieves something substantial, you believe that you can too.

Doing a boring job at a sexy company will lead to the very best people leaving sooner rather than later. Doing an exciting job at a less sexy company will allow the company to punch above their weight in terms of the talent that they retain. Culture attracts people, but the job content ensures that you retain the best. If you aren’t sure whether your people are being pushed to be the best that they possibly can in in their roles, maybe it is worth reassessing your priorities. There is nothing more important.

As with everything, balance is key, but for me, the content of the job is just that little bit more important than the environment in which you do it. Clearly I am lucky enough to have both……..occasionally at least.

I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts. What does it for you, content or culture?

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