Incentra Insights

Employee Recognition – Add a Dose of Passion

Posted by David Chittock on Jan 21, 2015 11:27:13 AM

Employees having passion about their work

A Little on the Dry Side?

Sometimes when I read or write about employee recognition, I get the feeling that something is missing.  There are so many facts, and figures and trends to keep track of that often the subject matter seems pretty dull and unexciting.  I’m sure I‘m as guilty as the next guy in contributing to this fact, but I’ve decided to step out of my comfort zone a little.

We Need to Put Some Sizzle on the Steak

I remember a speaker once saying, “A steak is just a steak until you put it on the grill. It’s the sizzle, not the steak that gets you excited.” I think this also applies to our employee recognition programs.  We can have the most feature-rich and lavish reward and recognition program possible, but if the underlying passion isn’t there, we just might be missing the boat.  We’ll be going through the motions, but will our employees be truly and passionately inspired to deliver world-class performance and achieve awesome results?

So How Can We Define Passion?

What does passion mean in this context?  According to the Oxford dictionary, passion can be defined as an intense desire or enthusiasm for something,  Synonyms for passion include fervor, zeal, and ardor.  Antonyms include apathy, indifference, and stoicism. Obviously, we want our employees to be enthusiastic and zealous about our organization; certainly not apathetic and indifferent.  But, isn’t that what we call employee engagement?  Or is there something deeper we should be pondering?

Passion Different From Employee Engagement

Recently, Deloitte took a look at the concept of passion and how it relates to employee engagement.  According to their report, passion is different from, and more important than, engagement. “Employee engagement is typically defined,” the report states, “by how happy workers are with their work setting, coworkers, organization-wide programs, and their overall treatment by their employer. 

However, workers who are merely engaged won’t actively seek to achieve higher performance levels, to the benefit of self and firm; passionate workers will, though.  Around 88% of the workforce lack this kind of passion, and the enhanced productivity that goes along with it.

What Does a Passionate Worker Look Like?

Deloitte goes on to describe the traits of a passionate worker.  “Passion in workers relates to how they respond to challenges.

  • Do they get excited by, and actively seek out, challenges?
  • How do they solve problems?
  • How do they learn, develop skills, and build their careers over the long term?
  • How do they interact with others to pursue those goals?
  • Are they willing to help themselves and the companies they work for develop the capabilities to constantly learn and improve performance?  
Rather than a one-time performance bump, passionate workers deliver sustained and significant performance improvement over time.”

Unlocking the Passion Within

First of all, we need to get over our fear of passion itself.  Many organizations are a little gun shy of passionate workers thinking they are unpredictable, risky, and hard to control.  Standard procedures and policies often mitigate against passion by discouraging actions that venture beyond certain boundaries.  If we truly want to engender passion in our workers, we need to unleash our own passion and be willing to step out of our own comfort zone. 

Then we’ll be able to create a workplace environment where bold new ideas and audacious actions are not only encouraged, but celebrated.  Recognizing employees for their passion and courageous initiative is a heck of a good way to get started!

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Categories: Employee Engagement