Wanted in Today’s Workplace: Passion

It’s that secret ingredient that separates the ideal job candidate from others, and makes for a high-performing employee. But according to a new study from professional services firm Deloitte, few workers have it.

Only 13 percent of U.S. workers are passionate about their jobs.

Expenditure and Excitement

This finding is likely to create a conundrum for U.S. corporations that are expected to spend more than $100 billion for training and more than $1 billion for employee engagement in 2017.
Yet engagement must remain a priority, given that 68 percent of the U.S. workforce is not engaged at work.
Be that as it may, the Deloitte study suggests a new approach is needed.

Workforce Profile

It’s noteworthy that this particular study puts the focus on the workforce, as opposed to corporate programs.
In doing so, Deloitte finds that only 35 percent of the workforce has the disposition to seek out challenges in their organization, and even engaged employees are not proactive in this regard. More than 60 percent of engaged employees, a clear majority, don’t seek challenges.
Lack of passion for work exists at all levels and in all job types, according to Deloitte research. Sixty-four percent of all workers and 50 percent of executives and senior management report that they are neither passionate nor engaged in their work.

Worker Attributes

How is passion, as it relates to work, defined?
The study finds passionate workers generally exhibit three attributes:

  • long-term commitment to making a significant impact in a domain
  • questing disposition that actively seeks out new challenges in order to improve faster
  • connecting disposition that seeks to build trust-based relationships with others who can help them get to a better answer

Among employees who have these attributes and are therefore passionate:

  • 71 percent report working extra hours
  • 89 percent report feeling focused, immersed, and energized in their work
  • 68 percent are optimistic about the future of their company
  • 71 percent feel they are encouraged to work across the company
  • 67 percent feel the company collaborates well with customers

The study finds that position has some effect on passion; people in senior positions are more likely to be passionate. However, age isn’t a significant factor. Deloitte notes that Millennials don’t have an edge when it comes to passion.

Corporate Direction

What does it all mean for companies that have made improving engagement a priority?
Study findings strongly suggest that companies might be focused too narrowly on employee engagement, rather than developing a workforce with the necessary passion to solve complex challenges and pursue new opportunities.
In addition, findings indicate a shift to new types of learning and collaborative environments could address key barriers to a more engaged and passionate workforce.
Ultimately, the study suggests it may be time to change the game and tap into employee passion rather than aim for improved engagement—and perhaps focus on passion when recruiting and hiring.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.

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