Yarmouth Clam Festival Bike Race by Robert H. Goun on Flickr Creative Commons

In preparing for a recent talk to financial executives on Talent Management, I came up with several key points on what to look for when making investments in that area. Here is part two…

Don’t Confuse Fun with Enjoyment

Bringing fun and levity into the work environment is a great thing.  Our work does not need to be a constant drudgery or overly serious.  So having “fun” things like ping pong tables and opportunities to interact with co-workers can be a great distraction.  However if our workforce is in constant need of distraction we have a bigger problem on our hands.

Enjoyment then is bigger and more powerful than fun. It lasts longer and is more rewarding over time.  Think of being in the “flow” with a particular task.  Time just seems to fly when we are doing a task we are good at.   (1)

Research has shown that people who enjoy 75% or more of their work are four times more likely to be successful at it.  People tend to enjoy doing what they are good at or for which they have a preference.  Some people enjoy leading and some people do not.  Automatically putting a person in a position that requires they manage a large team when they strongly prefer being a contributor would just be setting that person up for mediocre or poor performance.

So consider the efforts that foster enjoyment as a good investment (aligning preferences with tasks that need to be done) while keeping fun in mind.

(1)See Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s TED talk on the subject: Flow, the secret to happiness.