According to the Deloitte Centre for the Edge, under 25% of the workers it surveyed are passionate about their work. Worse, the level of passion in the workforce turned out to be inversely related to the size of the company. Unsurprisingly perhaps, the self-employed were the most passionate, but the findings indicated that the larger the company, the lower the level of passion among the workers.
It's a US survey, but I wouldn't at all be surprised if the same were not true elsewhere in the world. And it's nothing less than a tragedy. My sense (and I have no data to back this up, merely a belief that this is the case) is that this is not a reflection of a lack of ambition or a strong desire to make things better in most employees. More likely it is a consequence of the motivation-sapping rigidity and organisational inflexibility that many of these people find themsleves caught up in. Many, many people, want to change things for the better, to improve performance by actively seeking out new challenges and the people that can help address those challenges. But too often hierarchy, process and resistance to change gets in the way. It becomes an attritional battle, and it wears you down.
The implication of all this is that businesses have an increasing responsibility to provide the kind of working environment that goes in the opposite direction. One that facilitates networked collaboration and innovation, and makes it as easy as possible for people to really make a difference. One that is focused around motivated, talented employees who have a far greater say in how they choose to address the challenges that the business faces. Those that ignore this, will find it increasingly difficult to get the best people. Those that cannot get the best people will fail to bring in the best new thinking. Those that don't have the best new thinking, will fail.
This is something I feel passionate about (see what I did there), so I dedicated my latest column in New Media Age to it, and you can read it here. I hope you enjoy it.