To achieve profitable growth and long-term economic recovery, companies need to foster significantly more passionate workforces. The problem is, only 23% of U.S. workers are passionate about their current jobs.
That's the conclusion drawn from the Shift Index, research from Deloitte's Center for the Edge designed to reveal and examine longer-term performance trends in business.
Deloitte warns that companies in the United States have experienced a 75% drop in return-on-assets (ROA) over the last 40 years despite gains in labor productivity. Even with a cyclical recovery, says Deloitte, companies will face greater competitive pressures in the coming years.
Deloitte says what is needed to respond to these performance pressures is passionate employees "who feel truly engaged with their work and constantly push the performance envelope by accelerating institutional innovation and driving corporate growth."
"By squeezing resources tighter in response to the near-term downturn, companies risk losing passionate employees," said John Hagel, co-chairman, Deloitte Center for the Edge. Even though companies need these employees to drive extreme performance improvements, he adds, "these very employees are likely to be the most at risk for fleeing for better employment platforms."
What's so good about passionate employees? The survey finds that passionate employees are twice as likely to be inspired and energized by unexpected challenges as the disengaged. This "questing disposition," Deloitte says, can lead to innovations in both products and business processes. Moreover, they are twice as likely as the disengaged to participate in "inter-firm knowledge flows," using digital tools and social media to facilitate dialogue, learning and collaboration.
"Companies considering a leadership change need to look for business leaders that understand the power of passion in the workforce and are prepared to take on the challenge of transforming industrial-age corporations for the digital era." said Hagel. "Most importantly, companies need to shift from an obsessive focus on quarterly earnings to develop a compelling view of the long-term future that can help to inspire and provide direction and focus for the employees while at the same time attracting and motivating a broader network of participants beyond the individual enterprise, key to performance and profitability in the upturn."