Match.com and eHarmony ought to get out of the dating business and into corporate recruiting.  Think of what could happen if employers could find people who were passionate about their jobs.

Instead, most companies focus on filling openings.  When an opening exists in a company the first thing that occurs is someone draws up the list of tasks that the job requires.  They match job functions with candidate experience.  They get exactly what they desired (and deserve) – someone who can do the job.

But there is a world of difference between doing the job and enjoying the job.  In fact, a recent study by Accenture shows that approximately 60% of men and women are dissatisfied with their jobs.  (Ironically, job flexibility, a “benefit” designed in part to reduce turnover, keeps unhappy people in their jobs.)

Dissatisfaction and the resultant lack of employee engagement present a huge drain on (a) corporate profitability and (b) human potential.  To correct this mismatch, two things must occur.

  1. Companies must match jobs with strengths.  While necessary, it isn’t sufficient to follow Jim Collins’ oft-touted advice to “get the right people on the bus.”  Equally important is to ensure people are in the right seats.  In a recent interview, Tracy Dolgin, CEO of YES cable sports discusses his perspective.  The “Reverse Peter Principle” rewards doers (vs. managers).  His experience shows that productivity improves and management overhead expenses are kept in check.
  2. Employees must take a leap of faith to satisfy their intrinsic needs.  Staying in a job because of flexible work arrangements stifles our innate needs to achieve autonomy, mastery, and purpose.  (Brief overview by Daniel Pink on TED.)

The pivot point is that helping people find work that satisfies their deepest needs also fulfills a business purpose (engaged employees impact profitability).  Accenture’s study shows that benefits such as flexible work schedules DO reduce turnover, but they also keep people in jobs that they find unsatisfying.  Their study is yet another proof point that shows how employers and employees both lose when companies limit their mission to filling jobs with qualified people.

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