Any employer would love to have employees who are genuinely passionate about their work. In the workplace, passion often translates directly to employee engagement. Passionate, engaged workers tend to be more productive, are more loyal to employers, engage in self-study and training, and are more creative and proactive.
Consider, for example, a graphic designer passionate about art and design. While her job may only require her to work a standard 40-hour week, she might be so invested in and passionate about her work that she consistently spends hours of her free time perfecting her designs and her craft in general.
When Passion Wanes
But turning a passion into a job can often have the exact opposite effect on engagement. Taking an activity one engages in for enjoyment and adding structure, deadlines, and large workloads can sap that enthusiasm and even make people averse to activities they once loved.
Patricia Chen, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, who recently surveyed 316 undergraduates pursuing a variety of academic subjects and asked them whether and how their passion for their subject may have changed over time, including an open-ended question on what had caused this change in passion.
Based on those survey results Chen and her colleagues published a research paper in which they identified seven strategies for boosting workplace motivation by leveraging passion for the work or subject matter.
Seven Strategies for Boosting Workplace Motivation
To help reenergize yourself when passion is waning, Chen and her colleagues recommend:
- Recognizing personal relevance in learning the subject.
- Recognizing the societal relevance of the subject.
- Building familiarity with the subject.
- Gaining practical experience in applying the subject.
- Seeking or recognizing the influence of teachers or environments.
- Focusing on parts of the subject that they naturally like.
- Performing well in the subject.
“Of the seven coded strategies, we classified five themes as “cultivation” strategies (the first five) because these were active, deliberate strategies that students used to increase their passion over time,” the researchers write.
The research by Chen and her colleagues was focused on undergraduate students, but it isn’t hard to see the potential applicability in the corporate world. Employers who are able to leverage these strategies to ignite or reignite passion for the work in their employees may be able to achieve valuable levels of employee engagement.
Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.