Deloitte Study: US Workers Lack Passion

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By Jason Bramwell
 
As competitive pressures within the US workforce continue to mount, businesses are searching for workers who bring passion to their jobs to navigate challenges and accelerate performance improvement. However, according to a new report from Big Four firm Deloitte LLP, only 11 percent of US workers possess the necessary attributes that lead to accelerated learning and improved performance.
 
In fall 2012, the Deloitte Center for the Edge surveyed approximately 3,000 full-time US workers who work more than thirty hours per week from fifteen industries and across various job levels for its Unlocking the Passion of the Explorer report.
 
The "passion of the explorer" – the term Deloitte uses for workers who embrace challenges as opportunities to learn new skills and improve performance – are likely found in the management (17 percent) and marketing (16 percent) functions. Passionate workers are least likely to reside within the customer service (5 percent), accounting/finance (7 percent), human resources (7 percent), and manufacturing (7 percent) areas.
 
"CEOs are struggling mightily to position their organizations within the hypercompetitive global economy, but instead of simply squeezing harder on costs, they should take a step back and reconsider exactly how they are pursuing their mission," John Hagel, director of Deloitte Consulting LLP and cochairman of the Center for the Edge, said in a written statement. "Unleashing the passion that is latent within existing employees is a long-term solution versus narrowly focusing on just recruiting passionate people. Passionate people will naturally drive their organization to the next level and set up their employer for longer-term success."
 
Instead of recruiting skill sets, Deloitte recommends organizations would be better served by recruiting passionate people and fostering passion in existing workers. This will help enterprises effectively respond to the diverse challenges of a globalized marketplace. Workers who demonstrate passion are more committed to their employers and are more likely to see new opportunities for success. In fact, 79 percent of workers who demonstrate the most robust passion say they already work for their "dream" organization – even if they are not currently in their dream work role.
 
According to the survey, 45 percent of US employees demonstrate at least one or two of the three attributes necessary to build passion – just not all three. Those three attributes are:
  1. Long-term commitment to a specific domain. Those who maintain long-range goals and perspective despite short-term disruption.
  2. Questing disposition. Those who embrace challenges as opportunities to learn and get stronger.
  3. Connecting disposition. Those who seek to build strong, trust-based relationships essential for collaboration and rapid feedback.
The survey found these characteristics are not equally distributed across the workforce. Passionate workers tend to work for smaller organizations, and the prevalence for workers with the passion of the explorer drops in organizations with more than 1,000 employees – from 13 percent to 9 percent. The research revealed that differences in the level of passion across industries were not statistically significant.
 
The survey also noted that passion correlates with compensation. Higher-pay brackets have a higher concentration of passionate employees: Among those making more than $150,000, 44 percent are passionate versus just 15 percent or fewer in lower-income brackets. 
 
"Faced with uncertainty and disruption, organizations must rely on workers at all levels," Hagel said. "The optimism and willingness those with the passion of the explorer have to go the extra mile is a valuable quality to organizations. With exposure to new trends and developments that the passionate gain from participating in external groups or ecosystems, passionate workers are more likely to help organizations navigate challenges and identify new opportunities essential for learning in a fast-moving environment."
 
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What is needed is for the corporate officers to adopt "the respect for people" principle. Particularly in this case C-Level executives must show respect for and commitment to their employees. For 30 years wages have stagnated while compensation for corporate officers has exploded. Jobs have been off-shored just to save costs not to better serve foreign markets, and workers have been asked to train their lower paid foreign replacements on their way out the door. Jobs are routinely cut to meet quarterly earnings targets, rather than management working to devise and implement long-term growth to profitably deploy their current labor force. Then they wonder why they cannot find workers passionate about their jobs.

Why should C-level executives show respect and commitment to their employees if they can either: a) get their employees to put up with being dumped on or b) get an equally competent replacement for lower cost?

Why do employees need to be passionate about their job? It seems to me that management only cares about the job getting done. Who cares if the employees do it passionately or not?

This is one of the dumbest studies I've ever seen from a Big 4 accounting firm, and that's really saying something.

"Instead of recruiting skill sets, Deloitte recommends organizations would be better served by recruiting passionate people and fostering passion in existing workers."

Yeah, who cares if the pilot knows how to fly a plane? We need to get someone who's passionate to sit in the captain's chair.

"The survey also noted that passion correlates with compensation. Higher-pay brackets have a higher concentration of passionate employees: Among those making more than $150,000, 44 percent are passionate versus just 15 percent or fewer in lower-income brackets."

Wow! I never would have guessed that higher paid employees would be more passionate. Thanks Deloitte!