Do What You Love. And Love What You Do

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- 5 min read

If you pay more, and offer performance bonuses, you’ll get more from employees. This has been ‘true’ forever, right? Well, I say we should rid ourselves of these misunderstandings, because there are better ways to inspire your people.

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Let's face it, the relationship we have with the concept of work is kind of warped. It's hard to recognize because we're in the middle of it. But with a bird’s eye view, you’d realize that relationship was warped as far back as the agricultural revolution.

We’re talking 10,000+ years ago. Back then, in farming communities, there was a correlation between how hard you worked and how much you’d receive in return. The harder you worked in summer, the larger your winter stockpile. It’s perfectly logical.

Extrinsic laziness

During the Industrial Revolution some 100 years ago, Taylorism placed our relationship with work in a new light. Employees were, apparently, intrinsically lazy. And the agricultural rule was applied in a new way.

People only got paid more if they worked harder. Factory processes were divided into short sections so everyone had their own work programme and worked with optimum efficiency. If you paid more as an employer, you expected to receive higher output from your human ‘resources’.

This still makes sense, right? Nope!

The error in this thinking is that the intrinsic laziness of workers is not intrinsic at all. It was largely determined by extrinsic factors. Employees began picking up on the fact that their work didn’t matter somehow. After all, the 'winter stockpile' they’d worked so hard for wasn’t destined for them, but for the factory bosses.

Persistent fallacy

Strangely, many companies cling to this illusion, promising performance bonuses to employees to propel them to work harder and perform better. And they link uniform job descriptions to these static bonuses.

Such companies are stuck with the idea that scarcity is looming, that economic growth is necessary, and that all human resources must contribute to this as efficiently as possible.

But the truth is that CEOs and shareholders are still the ones reaping the profits of a large winter stockpile.

The persistent, systemic fallacy about worker laziness is one reason why inequality in our society is still increasing.

No wonder only one in ten Europeans head to work with a smile and derive pleasure, satisfaction and meaning from their endeavors.

Seven out of ten give an employer their time, but not their passion. They do the job, but are happy to see the working day over. Two in ten actually hate their work so much they undermine the efforts of colleagues.

Passion paradigm

Before the onset of Covid, many employers got away with this laziness methodology. But employee engagement has now emerged on board agendas. And researchers have identified the Passion Paradigm.

Now, people learn early that their future work must be passion-driven. A career should consist of work that makes the world a little better and life more meaningful.

In Anglo-Saxon cultures, particularly, it was difficult for employees to climb the barricades in a hire and fire culture. Now, in post-Covid America, we’re seeing The Great Resignation. Employees are resigning en-masse, tired of being treated like lazy human resources.

'Do what you love, love what you do' is no longer a passive aphorism. People apply it when selecting a job.

Autonomous roles

Employers need to explore how much growth there could be if everyone did what they loved to do. And they should be offering workplaces where people can express these passions. They must allow people to adopt tasks that align with themselves.

At Viisi, this means more than hopping on the self-organization bandwagon. We have a philosophy of People First, Customers Second, Shareholders Last.

This is because we think we’ll only achieve sustainable growth if colleagues are engaged in work through pleasure, satisfaction and meaning.

In other words, 'Do what you love, and love what you do' is the end in itself, not a narrow focus on economic growth.

And we opted for Holacracy as the starting point of this self-organization model. It allows employees to devise roles themselves. But that's merely the paper reality...

Complete freedom

We’ve learned people only really set up roles and divide them according to preference and skills when their salary doesn’t depend on it.

That is why in our salary model, we completely decoupled wage development from individual performance, with everyone receiving identical salary increases in the same field.

That is, we believe in the intrinsic motivation of our colleagues to generate their best performance in total freedom within their teams - unconstrained by any bonus.

Employers, if you really love what you do, remove the obstacles in your organization that are the root cause of laziness.

Don't fix people. Fix the system.

This is a guest post from Marc Peter Pijper, Holacracy Coach at Viisi, a financial services company that offers customized mortgage solutions for highly educated customers. For more information on Marc Peter and the company, check out his rebel page.

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