5 ways to build passion in your workplace

When you love what you do, you don’t dread Mondays. You feel part of your team, easily slip into “the zone,” and know your work contributes to the good of the cause.

Written by Mind Tools for Business
Published 16 February 2021
5 ways to build passion in your workplace
What’s more, passion is contagious. Passionate people energize the workplace – and lift team performance. Passion is even more important when times are tough. Impassioned employees look for creative solutions to problems, they’re resilient, and learn new skills to overcome market challenges. [1]

But recent studies show that passion is short on supply. A report by Deloitte says just 12 percent of US employees are passionate about their work. [2] And Gallup estimates 340 million Americans are “actively disengaged.” They show up or log on for work then coast – draining resources, denting productivity and, ultimately, losing customers. [3]

So, how can you put fire back in the belly of your workforce? Here are five top tips.

1. Create connections

New research reveals that passionate people like to connect with others to help solve problems. [4] And their companies support this spirit of exploration by making it easy for people to find others with relevant expertise. To join them:
  • Set team goals that people can work towards together – building team spirit along the way.
  • Create a culture of collaboration where employees can share their knowledge, hear each other out and respect their ideas.
  • Use social networks to help people find others with specific areas of expertise, similar passions, skills, experience and interests. [5]

2. Develop a sense of purpose

When you and your people connect, authors John Hagel III and John Seely Brown recommend “coming together to ask and answer a powerful question.” That way, you can look up from day-to-day activities, see your role in wider business goals, and feel a sense of purpose. Which boosts passion levels.

To do it, ask open-ended questions like, “Is this what we should be doing?” and, “What else is possible?” That way, you’ll encourage creative thinking and new approaches. [6]

Your answers may lead to tweaking your company’s mission and vision. And through one-on-ones and goal setting, managers should help employees see their part in “the bigger picture.”

3. Encourage growth

Passionate people seek out new challenges and see them as opportunities to learn. The very act of learning motivates and impassions, too. In fact, the opportunity to learn and develop is the most important driver in employee happiness after the nature of the job. [7] And when employees see that their employer takes their career development seriously, passion soars.
To help your people grow:  
  • Ask managers to regularly discuss their employees’ development needs. And ensure people have access to the training and learning resources they need.
  • Encourage career development with mentoring or coaching programs.
  • Get team members to share knowledge, learn from each other, and enhance each other’s roles and abilities.

4. Empower your managers

Our own research reveals that managers are most likely to inspire people to learn – almost twice as much as colleagues who rank second. [8]

When leaders and managers are passionate about their work and organization, this rubs off on employees. And the best way to do it is to really connect with people.

As Lola Gershfeld from Level Five Executive, Inc., says, “Our longing for connection is the most powerful motivational force in our brain. When people lose their motivation, it is because they are disconnected from their peers, manager and team. The best way to reignite their passion is to reconnect them emotionally – creating safety to explore emotions, identifying what do they need and having bonding conversations whey they can reconnect.” [9]

From virtual coffee and donuts to making time for questions after business updates, managers and leaders should try to get to know all employees.

5. Take on a passion project

There are only so many stretch activities you can take on. So, encourage people to look for passion projects outside of work – and make time for them.

When dissatisfaction approaches, Laura DeCarlo, Career Directors International, says, “The candle needs to be relit, and the easiest way to do this is to learn something new. It's most effective to look outside for reignition. Encourage employees to take a class or start a hobby they've always wanted to try, and passion will follow them back to the job.” [10]

Did we miss any? How do you inspire passion in your workplace?


[1] [2] Deloitte, ‘Passion at work: Cultivating worker passion as a cornerstone of talent development’. Available here. (Accessed Feb 2021).

[3] Steve Crabtree, ‘Worldwide, 13% of Employees Are Engaged at Work’. Available here. (Accessed Feb 2021).

[4] [5] [6] John Hagel III and John Seely Brown, ‘How to Create a Workplace that Actually Inspires Passion’. (2020). Available here. (Accessed Feb 2021).

[7] Josh Bersin, ‘New Research Shows "Heavy Learners" More Confident, Successful, and Happy at Work’ (2018). Available here.

[8] Learner Intelligence Report (2020). Available to download here.

[9] [10] ‘Need To Reignite Your Employees' Passion And Creativity At Work? Here's How To Do It’ Available here. (Accessed Feb 2021).

About the author

Mind Tools for Business

Mind Tools for Business

Mind Tools for Business brings accessible, on-demand performance tools and resources focused on leadership, management and personal effectiveness that empower colleagues to perform in today’s progressive workplaces. Helping them build happy and successful careers and to contribute positively to the success of organizations, the world over. At Mind Tools for Business, empowering people to thrive at work has been our passion for 25 years.

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