Study: Firms Must Tap Worker Passion to Address Competitive Pressures

San Jose, Calif. — Sept. 17

To address perpetually mounting competitive pressures, organizations need workers who bring passion to their jobs to navigate challenges and accelerate performance improvement, according to a new report.

Yet only 11 percent of U.S. workers surveyed by Deloitte possess the necessary attributes that lead to accelerated learning and performance improvement. These and other insights are highlighted in a new report from Deloitte’s Center for the Edge titled “Unlocking Passion of the Explorer.”

The effect of mounting competitive pressure is visible in the downward trend in return on assets, or ROA. According to Deloitte, ROA for U.S. organizations has been declining for the past 47 years, despite gains in labor productivity, and it shows no signs of stabilizing.

The data suggests that the typical corporate response of reducing costs and squeezing more productivity out of the remaining workers by making them work harder is not a long-term solution to competitive pressures. Recruiting wars have typically focused on finding particular skills, but Deloitte uncovered that the typical modern work skill becomes outdated within five years.

Instead of recruiting skill sets, organizations would be better served by recruiting passionate people and fostering passion in existing workers. However, the passion of the explorer — workers who embrace challenge as opportunities to learn new skills and rapidly improve performance — is rare in the U.S. workforce. Outdated practices and structures are to blame, according to Deloitte.

Many organizations squelch rather than cultivate the passion of the explorer. In the fall of 2012, Deloitte Center for the Edge surveyed about 3,000 full-time U.S. workers — those working more than 30 hours a week — from 15 industries and across various job levels to measure their levels of passion.

The survey notes that one of the fundamental considerations for any business leader is how to create a passionate employee population. Recruiting employees with passion and creating work environments that foster this elusive characteristic 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 report.

While only a small minority of U.S. employees possess the passion of the explorer, 45 percent of U.S. employees demonstrate at least one or two of the three attributes necessary to build passion — long-term commitment to a specific domain, those that maintain long-range goals and perspective, despite short-term disruption; questing disposition, those that embrace challenges as opportunities to learn and get stronger; and connecting disposition, those that seek to build strong, trust-based relationships essential for collaboration and rapid feedback, just not all three.

Source: Deloitte