Research shows that employees who are passionate about their work are more productive, innovative, and collaborative. New research suggests that these employees also see passion for work as a moral imperative, and they are more likely to judge colleagues who are motivated by other reasons, such as financial stability. , social status, or family obligations. The research also found that these employees were more likely to offer help to their more motivated colleagues. Leaders must recognize the different motivations that drive their workers and create an inclusive environment that supports and values all forms of motivation, rather than punishing those who don’t fit the passion-centered mold.
A more and more companies looking for employees whose passion for their work drives their performance, and they invest in strategies to inspire and nurture this passion. The research on this topic obviously — more motivated employees are more productive, innovative, and collaborative, and they show a higher level of commitment to their organizations. Enhancing motivation is a winning strategy for organizations seeking to achieve continuous growth, innovation, and success.
But, in search of nurturing love, our recent research revealed that employers may have overlooked and ignored the needs of employees driven by other sources of motivation, such as financial stability, social status, or family obligations. These employees play a vital role in the success of their companiesbut may be subject to an invisible penalty for their perceived lack of passion for their work.
Doing What You Love Makes You “Moralize” to Love Your Job
Our research involving 1,245 full-time employees in multiple organizations of various sizes and industries revealed a new phenomenon in the contemporary workplace: The more people love their work, the more they see they see it as a moral imperative. Employees who are more passionate about their work agree more strongly with sentences such as “Working for personal happiness is morally virtuous” and “Being intrinsically motivated is moral.” For these individuals, loving their work has moral importance beyond personal fulfillment, and they are more likely to judge their co-workers’ motivations against their own moral standards or to ask, “The are my colleagues here for TRUE reasons?”
This emphasis on loving your work as a moral obligation has many implications. Our research suggests that those who love their work more are more likely to view working for extrinsic rewards less favorably. Those who agreed with sentences like “Intrinsically motivated are moral” also agreed with sentences like “Those who do their job only for money are not virtuous employees” and “Employees who are motivated by extrinsic rewards tend to be immoral.”
Critically, we find the consequences of these character judgments. Employees who love their work more also prioritize helping their more motivated colleagues, whom they perceive as morally superior. In contrast, employees who work for other reasons receive less help from their more motivated colleagues, which makes it harder for them to progress in their organizations and makes them more likely to be excluded from important ones. project. Such treatment can have serious consequences for employee morale, retention, and overall organizational performance. In contrast, employees who work for extrinsic rewards treat their colleagues equally, regardless of their work.
Creating an Environment That Values the Different Motivations of Employees
Managers should be aware that organizations that promote love may create a sense of alienation for some employees. Recognizing and celebrating the unique contributions of all employees, regardless of their underlying motivations, will help create a sense of belonging and purpose in your workforce, leading to increased engagement and productivity.
Managers should also strive to develop an open and inclusive workplace culture where employees feel comfortable discussing their motivations and goals, even if they stray into a passion-driven ethos. This will encourage conversation between employees who have different motivations to work and provide opportunities for employees to explore and develop their passions inside and outside the workplace. For example, mentoring, networking relationships, or job creation (i.e., spending more time on tasks that are more meaningful to them) may expose employees to roles they may enjoy more.
If you are an employee who loves their job, remember that this may make you more judgmental about your colleagues and affect how much you help them. Not everyone should do work because they are passionate about it. Some employees may have families to care for, need benefits as a safety net, or have yet to discover their true passion at work.
Finally, organizations should evaluate whether their benefits and perks attract employees with different motivations. While some employees may be drawn to work because they are passionate about it, others may be motivated by flexible work arrangements, or access to professional development opportunities. By offering a variety of perks and benefits, leaders can create a workplace that attracts employees with diverse motivations and helps retain top talent.
Despite the widespread belief that passion is essential for success, all employees should be appreciated for who they are and how they contribute – regardless of their motivations for work. Leaders must recognize the diverse motivations that drive their workforce and create an inclusive environment that supports and values all forms of motivation, rather than punishing those who don’t fit the passion-centered mold.