Only 13 Percent of the U.S. Workforce Is Passionate About Jobs

Posted By Terri Williams on June 29, 2017 at 6:58 am
Only 13 Percent of the U.S. Workforce Is Passionate About Jobs

A recent survey by Deloitte’s Center for the Edge reveals that although U.S. companies are projected to spend more than $100 billion on training and $1 billion on employee engagement in 2017, most workers are neither engaged in nor passionate about their jobs.

Selected excerpts from the survey:

  • 13 percent of the U.S. workforce is passionate about their jobs.
  • 68 percent of the U.S. workforce remains not engaged.
  • 35 percent seek out challenges in their organization.
  • 50 percent of executives and senior management show neither passion nor engagement.

So, what’s causing both workers and leaders to be so nonchalant about their jobs?

Us vs. Them

Hugh Blane, president of Claris Consulting, tells GoodCall®, “The word love has been removed from the corporate lexicon, and corporations are in a ‘do more, do it better,’ ‘do it faster and cheaper’ mindset.” As a result, workers believe that their primary goal is survival. “An employee now sees work as a long slow slog through enemy territory on their bellies with bullets flying overhead.” Workplace stress burdens most employees.

Leaders play a central role in developing this mindset. Sometimes, the leaders themselves are just trying to survive. “Leaders are overscheduled, overworked and overwhelmed,” Blane says.  “When leaders are in back-to-back meetings and have no white space to think holistically and passionately about their work, they become human doings as opposed to human beings.”

Sometimes, employees are not engaged because of the company’s overarching leadership style. Art Barter, CEO of Datron World Communications Inc. and founder of the Servant Leadership Institute, tells GoodCall®, “We hear about a company’s purpose, mission and values — but by and large, leaders today do not live their company’s values through their behaviors.” Instead, Barter says that command and control leadership practices drive the behavior of most leaders.

And, he doesn’t think that companies equip their workers for success. “I am always amazed by the lack of funds dedicated each year to invest in employees,” Barter says. He explains, “That investment can come in various forms – including equipment, tools and training – to care about as well as meet the basic needs of the employees.” Research shows that employees blame a lack of training for a lack of promotions.

However, Barter says companies don’t usually prioritize benefits for employees over compensation for senior leaders. “And when times are tough, how many leaders are the first to take a ‘hit’ in their overall compensation or benefits, instead of cutting programs that benefit employees?”

Engaging workers to become passionate

One of the keys to employee engagement is creating an environment in which workers feel valuable and they’re pursuing their passion. Eric Zuckerman, president of Pac Team Group, tells GoodCall®, “I believe workers become passionate about their jobs when they feel like they make an actual contribution to the company’s success.” Zuckerman contrasts this with an environment in which employees are nameless, replaceable cogs in the machine.

So, how is this change achieved? “Management must truly value their employees’ unique talents and contributions, and also provide them the room to have autonomy, and trust them to meet their responsibilities without micromanaging,” Zuckerman says.

This is the approach taken by Joe Silverman, owner of New York Computer Help, an outsourced IT support company in New York City. “One of my recent hires is passionate about designing websites, so, along with his Mac repair technician role, I build in tasks to work on redesigning our website.”

Silverman notes that the new employee is both motivated and happy because he gets to accomplish the company’s goals while also doing what he loves. “This allows me to pave our computer technicians’ paths at my company with the right structure, and having this passion will motivate them to be more productive.” Silverman says it’s a win-win situation.

Chris Congdon, global director of research communications for Steelcase, tells GoodCall® that her company partnered with global research firm Ipsos to explore employee engagement and workplace satisfaction.

“The research shows a distinguishing characteristic of engaged employees is that they have a greater degree of control over where and how they work, including access to privacy when they need it,” Congdon says. “They are empowered, both by organizational decisions and the spaces made available to them within their workplace, to make choices about where and how they work.”

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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