What’s the Purpose?

I listened to HR Happy Hour last night, where the guests Ryan Estis and Don McPherson spoke about “Passion on Purpose”. It was an interesting show, but discussions about creating passionate employees always make me cringe.

I think about the 40 or so employees at United Meat & Deli and I think I know exactly what they would say if I asked them about their passion and/or purpose. They would bluntly tell me that the purpose of any job was to make a sufficient living to feed and clothe their family and take an occasional trip to Mexico. Or Mackinac Island. Maybe help out needy relatives, and buy a decent car. They don’t want to feed their ego and they know they are not saving the world.

Are all of these weighty discussions about passion and purpose really – I mean really – meaningful to the majority of American workers? Tell me in the comments.

On another note, I am guest blogging today for Women of HR. I am proud to be allowed to join them.





4 thoughts on “What’s the Purpose?”

  1. Oh Joan – of course they want a purpose. You speak of the actively disengaged – now they don’t give a rats ass about it, but there are people at the deli who care so don’t throw them out, because of the naysayers! :-)

  2. Perhaps we should start by defining passion; people tend to describe this in varying levels and different ways. Clarity in communications is a good thing and can save a lot of time by avoiding developing HR programs that don’t contribute to the strategic goals of the organization. One size does not fit all.

    Take that deli as an example: what if 5 employees were ‘passionate’ foodies and beleive that food is at the heart of strong family ties? They might be passionate about delivering a great customer service. What if 2 employees really don’t care what type of businesss they work for but thrive on being seen as doing an excellent job? They might feel passion about how they go about doing their work. What if 4 employees just want to put in their 9-5, meet expectations, collect their compensation packages and go off to do what they are passionate about -after work? Steady, reliable employees are an important contributor to the business but they don’t need to be ‘passionate’ about it.

    One size does not fit all-maybe instead of trying to define *the* thing that makes an employee “passionate or engaged” or whatever the current buzz word is more enegy should go into recognizing that it takes diverse skills and competencies to make a company successful and hire people because they can provide one or more important pieces of the puzzle.

    The idea of every employee in a business walking around “passionate and engaged” is a little creepy-it would however make a great movie.

  3. Don’t get me wrong, Dave. To a person they are great workers who always show up, on time, and do their jobs well. They willingly work copious amounts of overtime during our “season”, and we have very little turnover. We make money every year (pushing 30 years). But I think that they would all rightfully laugh in my face if I tried to suggest that their jobs were some kind of calling.

  4. Karin, I think you hit the nail on the head. I am just not convinced that we all need to be concerned about creating passion and purpose IN OUR WORKFORCE, no matter how it’s defined, because everyone has a different idea of passion. Diversity – absolutely. Passion – maybe not so much.

    GREAT movie is right. Directed by Alexander Payne.

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