In 2009 John Hagel created a measurement called “The Shift Index”. Its goal was to reach beyond the conventional metric measurements such as unemployment, inflation, etc and to focus on the long-term change pressures that companies face. I will not summarize the report – it can be freely downloaded here. It is about 200 pages – maybe a long-term pressure for John would be to try to reduce the size of this report into a 5 min – YouTube video + presentation:))

Anyway, what I found most intriguing are the findings of the researchers in connection to the workforce that companies need to employ. Here is a quote:

Passion and performance
This edition of the Shift Index also goes into more detail regarding the level of passion in our workforce and its likely impact on business performance.  In particular, we highlight two dispositions that are closely linked to passion: questing disposition and connecting disposition. A questing disposition addresses the desire to seek out challenges to test one’s performance and achieve new levels of performance. A connecting disposition focuses on the desire to actively seek out people who share one’s interests and who can be helpful in addressing new challenges.
Our proprietary survey of the US workforce indicates that employees who are passionate about their work are twice as likely to have a questing disposition and a connecting disposition. For companies hoping to overcome mounting performance pressures having passionate workers with these dispositions would significantly improve their likelihood of succeeding.
If you want to improve the performance of your company in a world of increasing uncertainty where the scale and diversity of trust-based relationships increasingly drives potential for value creation, you want workers with questing and connecting dispositions – in other words, you want workers with passion.
The challenge is that passion levels remain very low within the workforce – under 25% of the workers are passionate about their work.  And there’s an even bigger problem for large companies. The level of passion in the workforce is inversely related to the size of the company – the larger the company, the lower the level of passion among the workers. The most passionate workers are those who are self-employed or working as independent contractors.
Our survey reveals that 26 percent of workers would like to become an independent contractor or consultant. According to the survey, many of the individuals who choose traditional employment do so for reasons that are steadily eroding —guaranteed employment and healthcare benefits.  Factors most cited by those currently employed by firms for their hesitation in becoming independent were a need for steady income (58 percent), need for healthcare (50 percent), uncertainty in the current economy (47 percent) and need for benefits (45 percent). These factors are also the most cited by those employees that remain at their current jobs despite the fact that it does not allow them to pursue their passions.
It is becoming urgent to find ways to more actively engage those who are already passionate while pursuing approaches to more effectively motivate and engage the workers who have yet to find passion in the work they do.Executives need to look at all of the institutional and technological barriers that frustrate employees and prevent these employees from seeking out challenges that will drive performance improvement.
By removing the impediments to questing and connecting behaviors, executives can help reduce the frustration of passionate employees that make them vulnerable to other job opportunities. Even better, those passionate employees will not be diverting their energies from workarounds and will be able to focus, instead, on engaging in, and overcoming, real performance challenges.

It seems that the conclusion is clear:

  1. Finding a cause for which to work is more important than job security
  2. Finding the right crowd (place) to work is crucial to being productive
  3. Finding meaning and passion in one’s work is the key to productivity and employee retention
  4. The early signs of the end of long-term employment at the same place are starting to appear, being shifted in favor of freelance work by self-employed agents. I wonder what the future labor market will be like and how it will function and whether we are ready?
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