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Bring employees’ passions to work

By: Barry Stuart

May 11, 2012

Several months ago Plastics News posted an opinion piece titled “Another casualty of the anemic economy: employee ambition” [“The Plastics Blog” by Don Loepp, Dec. 23, 2011]. This is a great observation.

It also leads to another issue: How do we keep employees engaged, get them to “spend” their talent at work rather than elsewhere? We need to make sure we are giving people a chance to contribute their talents to the organization’s performance. This is not for their benefit, but ours.

I recently had one of my better workers ask me why I came to work early. I told him that I was fortunate that I liked what I did and I got a great deal of satisfaction from it. He responded that he wished he enjoyed his job as much I enjoyed mine.

His response bothered me for the rest of the day. Finally, I went back and asked him what he did for enjoyment. With a broad smile he said that he engraved handguns in the evening and on weekends. He quickly took a stack of pictures from his tool box and proudly showed me his work. He was good. For the first time I realized that I had a rival for an employee’s talent; not another employer, but another interest.

With the technology available today there are multitudes of ways people can find fulfillment in life. We are no longer defined by what we do at our “day job.” An employee can be a welder during the day to pay the bills and be a poet in the evening to feed his or her passion.

The stiffest competition companies face today is not for sales, but for the talent of their employees. If we succeed in capturing this talent, increased sales and profitability will naturally follow. Engagement is the cause, success is the result.

On what side of the time clock are employees leaving their passion? 

Barry Stuart

Columbia, S.C.