Why passion for work matters 29/10/2021

Why passion for work matters

Some 2,500 years ago the great Chinese philosopher, Confucius, said: “Find a job you love and you’ll never work another day in your life”. Whilst the career landscape has evolved beyond recognition since his time, this wisdom stands true today. Research shows that the benefits of a happy work life reverberate not only for the individual who has found true passion for their work but throughout their entire sphere of influence including friends, family and workplace, creating a win-win for all.

As Job Action Day takes place on 1st November, galvanising people to find a job they love or to turn the concept on its head and bring love and fulfilment to their career, the team at Corecom takes a look at how to make this utopian ideal a reality.

A happy and fulfilled work life: The butterfly effect

UK citizens spend approximately 85,000 hours (10% of their lifetime) at work. With such a high proportion of our waking hours dedicated to our careers, it goes without saying that job happiness impacts on performance, success, relationships and general emotional wellbeing. In fact, research carried out by Ohio State University has found that work happiness from a young age directly correlates to mental health further down the line. Thus the earlier you find a job you love, or find a way to love your job, the happier, more at peace and healthier you will be in later life.

Those who find passion in their work gain a real sense of focus, fulfilment and purpose both inside and outside of the workplace. This higher state of mind ultimately leads to personal success whilst also generating a butterfly effect that reaps benefits for colleagues and business owners alike as creativity improves and inspiration is found. As positive psychologist expert and author of Happiness Advantage, Shawn Anchor, explains, when people feel happy, they work better. They are more creative, solve problems and collaborate more effectively. As a result, tangible business benefits come in to play:

  • A study by the University of Warwick found, happy workers are around 13% more productive than their counterparts, bringing higher financial return and success.
  • Gallup reports significant reductions in employee turnover for those organisations with traditionally high levels of engagement – a 24% reduction in high turnover organisations, whilst lower turnover organisations saw a dramatic 59% reduction.
  • FTSE 100 companies that prioritise employee wellbeing out-perform the rest of the FTSE 100 by 10% (BitC Workwell Study)
  • When choosing between products of equal price and quality, consumers choose those that treat their employees well (Accenture, 2018)

These indicators provide ample evidence for business owners to invest in their policies and practices to improve employee wellbeing, safe in the knowledge that significant rewards will be returned.

So what ingredients make for a happy and fulfilled work life?

The answer here is multi-faceted and dynamic, relying on a stream of consciousness that runs smoothly between employees and business leaders. In essence it’s a two-way dialogue. Studies have proven that fulfilment is created via a work culture and ethics that appreciate and value employees, that is clear about the impact staff have on the bigger picture, that is not afraid to hand over autonomy and that offers varied tasks, opportunities and learning to its employees. A work environment where social capital comes in to play – where staff feel connected and truly support each other, across all layers of hierarchy.  Shawn Anchor states: “Happiness is the joy we feel striving for our potential”. People need to feel they are continually growing and moving forward to remain engaged.

Yet whilst all of the above are key players, the onus is also on the employee to adapt a positive and open mindset. Here we return to another well-worn Confucius insight: “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart”. This sentiment encourages a change of mindset – to seek out the passion in every role you take on whether that role is out of pure necessity, or you are on a career path you never intended to pursue. Basically, personal attitude and positive approach are pivotal.

What if you’re just not feeling it?

If circumstance means that you just aren’t able to find love for your role, it’s time to readdress your situation and your passions. This requires a little research, soul searching and lateral thinking:

Think back to your dream job as a child: Whether you wanted to be an astronaut, dancer or teacher, consider what it was that attracted you to these roles. This can help to identify your values and other career paths that may meet the same value-driven need.

Carry out 360 feedback with colleagues, family and friends: Seeking an outside perspective often brings skills and qualities to the fore that you perhaps didn’t realise you had.

Identify your genius: Everybody has a genius – a natural talent that sets you apart from others. This can be tricky to uncover as it’s the one thing that you will do naturally over and over, without even noticing.

Consider your greatest role model or hero: What qualities and skills attract you to them?

In mapping out these insights and doing your research on potential employers’ working practices and policies, you’ll move towards finding a role that ignites your passion.

Finding the holy grail

Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, identifies the most deeply satisfying human psychological state to be in as ‘flow’ – the point at which you become so immersed in an activity that you lose track of time. This state of being is still considered to be a rarity, much like witnessing a shooting star. Yet as organisations across the globe become more wellbeing savvy, and employees delve deeper into their own self-awareness and work on adjusting mindsets, this higher state of ‘flow’ will, over time, become the new norm, altering the career landscape once more.

Or as Confucius put it: “We have two lives, the second begins when we realise we only have one.” Seize the day.

Love what you do, and if you don’t, change something until you do.

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