bored teenage computer nerd sitting at computer When a passionate employee turns passive, it doesn’t happen overnight. They disengage slowly but steadily. It’s hard to see the downward path until they’re a robot showing up to work, drained of the passion for their job that they once had. Many employees start off at a new company bright eyed and eager to succeed. That built-in engagement is often squandered by poor management. As few as 45 percent of workers are satisfied at work, and that’s just satisfied.

The subtle warning signs of disengagement are hard to spot, so managers and supervisors should think more along the lines of prevention rather than detection. When employees are passionate about when they do, it can be infectious. Disengagement can also spread like a disease, affecting those around them. Taking deliberate steps toward keeping employees passionate and engaged is like preventative healthcare for the company. Communicating with, and valuing employees are the two main objectives in keeping passion.

Value Them

According to an Ivey Business Journal piece, “What Engages Employees the Most, or the Ten C’s of Employee Engagement”, “…an employee’s attitude toward the job’s importance and the company had the greatest impact on loyalty and customer service than all other employee factors combined.” Letting employees know that their role in the company is important and valued is where to begin.

Incentive programs and rewards are great opportunities to show employees their value. Setting realistic goals for the team or individual, know what they look for in rewards and encouraging participation through leadership is a great start. Evaluate the outcome and keep updating the reward or incentive system so that it stays relevant.

Communicate with Them

Communication should be a no-brainer but poor or lacking communication is one of the leading factors in employee dissatisfaction. In a white paper from the Hay Group, we learn that, “If expectations are not clear and basic materials and equipment are not provided, negative emotions such as boredom or resentment may result, and the employee may then become focused on surviving more than thinking about how he can help the organization succeed.”

And that’s just it; we don’t want workers who are “surviving”. Surviving doesn’t boost productivity or help the bottom line, passion does. From communicating task-specific details, to communicating appreciation, it should all be aimed at encouraging passion for the work.

Communication in the form of regular feedback also keeps employees from going into survival mode. Again, from the Hay Group paper we learn, “Feedback is the key to giving employees a sense of where they’re going, but many organizations are remarkably bad at giving it.” Managers should act as a compass for their employees, keeping them on the path for success.

Passion is the company’s lifeline. When employees exhibit passion, it should be encouraged and valued. Employees won’t maintain any level of passion under management that doesn’t communicate with them, or show them that they’re valued.

A lot of companies mistake recognition for financial compensation. In reality, paychecks don’t go very far in the way of facilitating passion, managers do. Passion will starve out if it isn’t properly fed. The same tools that managers can use to retain passion, are also the same tools used to build it. Constant communication, feedback and recognition are the keys to a passionate workforce and the leading combatants to a passive one.

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