Giving someone a job, and giving someone a purpose in their job are two very different things.
Obvious, right? So why do so many business leaders fail to respect the distinction?
The cost of this failure is costing companies greatly. According to a 2014 study from Deloitte, less than 1 in 8 American workers are passionate about their work.
Such a clear passion gap is troubling indeed, and in a rapidly evolving workforce that’s redefining jobs on a daily basis, the divide is predicted to widen into the foreseeable future unless something is done.
So what can be done?
Mission statements and organisational guidelines are great for presenting the vision of a company when employees first start, but as the work becomes routine, it’s easy for them to get lost in the day-to-day.
Therefore, it is our job as leaders – as the source and embodiment of the passion we wish to see in our staff – to take a more active role in sparking the flame, and ensuring it remains lit.
It’s all a matter of taking the time to communicate and adapt to the needs of employees.
Here are four tips on how to do just that:
Discuss projects in development: If you’re building a product or service, talk about it with the team throughout the process. Sure, as their leader, it is ultimately up to you to make the final decisions, but giving employees the opportunity to get involved is the perfect way to ensure their unique knowledge base and experiences are used to their full potential.
Be flexible: How often do you hire someone whose skills and abilities can only be applied within their immediate position? Never.
So why confine them to their job description if they can contribute throughout your business? Not only is variety likely to keep them active and engaged, but it serves as a show of trust and respect.
And if you’re not sure what abilities employees could put to use, ask them.
Provide opportunity: How often do you allow staff members to develop their own projects? Obviously you’re not just going to hand over the reins, but a willingness to entrust responsibility in the people around you is always appreciated. Plus, it’s a great way of inspiring intrapreneurship, and supporting your team in their growth.
Consider their future: Here’s the thing – even the most passionate of employees aren’t likely to spend their career at a single company. Losing staff is tough, but by acknowledging their goals and helping them work towards them through the meeting of your own needs, you build a relationship and tribe mentality that has the potential to provide serious dividends in the future.
Passion has Long Term Results
Disengaged Nation, a recent report from SACS Consulting detailing the productivity slump, showed that older employees are more likely to be passionate in their work.
Why? Is it because millennials are the self-entitled narcissists the media portrays them to be?
Is it because older people tend to have more familial and financial responsibilities, so are careful about not losing their jobs?
No. It’s because employees are willing to spend their entire working lives searching for what makes them passionate and engaged.
It’s because, once they find a job that makes them passionate and engaged, they are far less likely to leave it.
If business leaders don’t understand that, if they don’t respect that, they will continue to lose great employees to those who do.