Passion is often heralded as the key to a satisfying and successful career, but the authors’ recent research suggests that it may also come at a cost: Feeling passionate at work can lead to burnout and even combustion. Through studies with more than 700 employees in a wide range of industries, the authors found that people reported less burnout on days when they felt more passionate about their work — but the day after a particularly intense day, employees actually feel more burned out. out of the ordinary. This is because on days when employees experience a higher level of love, they also feel more energetic, which leads them to exert themselves and thus be more tired the next day. To address this vicious cycle, the authors argue that employees should be proactive about managing their passion and make sure to build in time for rest and recovery. At the same time, instead of encouraging unsustainable passion and pushing people to burn themselves out, managers should help their teams navigate the challenges that may come with a sense of excitement about at work by managing workloads, monitoring emotional exhaustion, and building systems that improve work life. balance.
“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” So the well-worn sayinga ubiquitous mantra pushed a generation of workers to try to find (or build) a career that will enable them to follow their passions. But is kindness always positive?
Studies show that love is associated with a host of positive outcomes, from reducing stress to increasing productivity and career growth. But in ours recent researchwe’ve found that feeling excited about work can also have a cost: It can lead to fatigue — and even burnout.
Passion Hinders Healing
To understand the short- and long-term effects of love, we asked more than 700 full-time US-based employees in various industries to provide daily answers about what they feel enthusiastic and on fire at the beginning and end of each work day. And consistent with prior research, employees report less burnout on days they feel more motivated at their work. But the day after a particularly hectic day, employees actually feel more burned out than usual.
This is because on days when employees experience higher levels of love, they also feel more energized. This energy boost makes their job seem easier, and so they end up investing more time and energy in it – but it also causes employees to forget their own needs, fail to first to rest and heal, and think about work instead of mentally switching off from. their jobs when the work day is over. In other words, feeling more motivated both led workers to put more energy into work and left them with fewer mental resources to recover from the demanding day they had just experienced. . This in turn results in these employees feeling especially burnt out the next day, their energy levels so depleted that they can no longer maintain their passion at work.
It’s a vicious cycle: When our love is at its peak, we can be full of energy, but we don’t really notice the damage of the extra effort that comes to us, and so we can’t leave work and join others. fatigue should be avoided. In fact, in a follow-up study of tech employees, we found that employees who reported being more motivated were less likely to take breaks, even when explicitly asked to do so, making them more likely to burn out. long time.
Of course, avoiding love is not the answer. Passion is a critical driver for employee well-being and organizational success. But our research suggests that the pursuit of love doesn’t have to take such a heavy toll — and that there are many steps workers and managers can take to keep healthy love from burnout and burnout.
Take Control of Your Passion
As an employee, it’s important to recognize that finding a job you feel passionate about is only the first step. Maintaining that passion over time requires a concerted effort to rest, rest, and recover when needed. So instead of letting your love control you, control your love. Feeling excited about your work may push you to work harder, but it doesn’t have to: Conversely, a burst of excitement today may serve as a sign that you need to put up guardrails to avoid tired tomorrow.
For example, after an intense training session or competition, athletes prioritize post-exertion recovery with regenerative practices such as ice baths, creams, and massages that prevent injuries and ensure optimal long-term performance. Similarly, after a particularly intense, stressful day at work, employees should be proactive about taking time for emotional recovery. In our study, we found that just one extra day off helped employees quit work and return with higher levels of passion the next day at work.
Whether you’re an athlete or an analyst, sprints can be an effective way to channel your passion and make meaningful progress toward a goal, but they’re not a sustainable method. eventually. Prioritizing recovery not only provides much-needed rest, but also increases excitement ahead, which ultimately makes for a healthier, more sustainable daily experience.
Encourage a More Lasting Kind of Passion
At the same time, it is important to recognize that there is only so much you can do as an individual employee. Especially for people who work multiple jobs, work in industries that especially exploitativehave additional caregiving responsibilities, or deal with others systemic barriers which makes it difficult to rest and quit work, maintaining love without succumbing to burnout can be challenging or impossible.
For example, in our ongoing research, we have found that men often have more flexibility in how they allocate their work and non-work responsibilities, while women are expected to complete a “second shift” of housework and childcare tasks at home, meaning there may be men more freedom than women to recover after a hard day’s work. Often, maintaining love can be a luxury reserved only for those who have the financial security and temporal flexibility to rest, recover, and keep their love for a long time.
These inequities are widespread and difficult to remove – but effective management can go a long way to reducing their impact and helping employees feel motivated while avoiding burnout. Instead of encouraging unsustainable passion and pushing people to burn themselves out, managers should help their teams navigate the challenges that can come with feeling excited about work. That means managing workloads, monitoring emotional exhaustion, and building systems that support work-life balance (especially in a remote work environment, where the boundaries between work and personal time is more blurred).
To be sure, this may be contrary to the intuitions of some managers. Many organizations openly use passion as a hiring criterion, and some employers even use passion in employees LEGITIMATE giving them more work, which ultimately worsens fatigue. But our research shows that putting love above all else is ineffective and harmful. Instead, managers should adopt a longer-term mindset, focusing not only on developing passion in the moment, but also on helping employees maintain that passion over time.
The word “passion” comes from Latin including, which means suffering. In German, the word for love is Leidenschaft, which roughly translates to “ability to endure hardship.” Passion is often heralded as the key to a fulfilling career, and yet the word’s origins suggest it may have a hidden, dark side. In fact, love deceives us by making work not like work, and in doing so, it drains us of our energy and our passion itself. The ability to endure suffering and adversity is critical to our success, but it is equally critical to recognize the damage it takes to endure, and take steps to protect ourselves and our teams – from we still burn with our love.