“You can buy a man’s time; you can buy his physical presence at a given place; you can even buy a measured number of his skilled muscular motions per hour. But you cannot buy enthusiasm…you cannot buy loyalty… you cannot buy the devotion of hearts, minds, or souls. You must earn these.” — Clarence Francis, chairman of General Foods during the 1950s

The leadership vacuum found in many organizations often shows up in how managers try to buy passion and commitment. They push rather than pull. They manage rather than lead. This saps passion and reduces the “commitment culture” so vital to high performance. The Gallup organization found that only 29 percent of U.S. employees are engaged in their work. A Towers Perrin survey showed that 13 percent of employees surveyed were aggressively seeking new jobs and 45 percent were passive job-seekers who would consider other offers. More than 90 percent of people surveyed in a Psychology Today study aspired to producing the highest quality work possible. But less than 50 percent said they only work hard enough to keep their jobs. The main reason they gave for this big difference was frustration with management practices.

A reliable indicator of management’s failure to impassion people and foster their commitment is absenteeism. When I was a kid I didn’t enjoy school very much. So I was sick a lot. Once I found my life work and pursued career choices that really turned me on, my health improved miraculously. In more than 30 years, I have taken fewer than five sick days.

Unexciting organizations are paying a huge price for their managers’ failure to engage the hearts of people. When I am excited about my work — when I feel like a valued partner and have a commitment to my team and to reaching our goals together — I am much less likely to call in sick. When I feel like my boss doesn’t care much about me, if my work is boring and routine, if I am just a pair of hired hands, the group I am part of is not really a team, I don’t know and don’t really care what our organization does or what customers think about our products and services, then I will call in sick at the first sniffle. Not to mention that feeling down lowers my immune system and makes me much more susceptible to whatever bugs are going around. William Denney, author and consultant and Malcolm Baldrige, National Quality Award Examiner and Certified Quality Manager and Auditor explain how enriching jobs for fun and profit makes good business sense:

“Making jobs more rewarding is the best way to influence motivation and job satisfaction. It involves introducing variety into the workplace in terms of skill and responsibilities, emphasizing the importance and significance of the job employees have, providing a degree of autonomy, and sharing regular feedback. It also requires giving employees more control over the processes they are involved in for real empowerment.”

“Job enrichment might be used in accounting by giving a clerk the responsibility to interact with other departments, make changes to a process, or approve certain requests without having to ask for management review. Enrichment could be used in manufacturing by training people in several job functions, so they acquire different skills and are able to contribute in different ways. Enrichment could be participation on a processes improvement team. It could involve soliciting and using worker input, or improving processes or systems that support employees in their jobs, such as a requisition process or computer system.”