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Happier employees – ‘wants’ in addition to ‘musts’


Employers should create ‘passion opportunities’ for workers to pursue their out-of-work interests ranging from cooking to travel, says Harvard Business Review article co-authored by Dr Jochen Menges of Cambridge Judge Business School.

Surfing: example of employers creating 'passion opportunities' for workers to pursue their out-of-work interests.
Jochen Menges.
Dr Jochen Menges

Employers who seek to retain the best talent should move beyond offering flexibility for the ‘musts’ like child-caring duties to also help workers pursue their ‘wants’ – their passion for out-of-work activities that may range from cooking to surfing to travel, says a Harvard Business Review article published today.

“We recommend creating passion opportunities for your employees,” says the article co-authored by Dr Jochen Menges, who teaches at the University of Zurich and Cambridge Judge Business School. “Many employees may benefit from viewing their jobs as conduits to pursue their passion outside of work.”

The ability to work remotely may be a good start, but organisations should combine such flexibility with both social and financial support “to allow people to carve out a place for out-of-work passions in their lives.” Doing so, says Dr Jochen Menges, “can make your workplace more appealing to attract employees, and healthier to retain them”.

The article outlines four concrete steps that firms should pursue to allow workers to actively pursue their passions: set clear expectations that employees “should craft work hours around their passions” and not feel guilty for pursuing their passions; lead by example having managers share their own passions outside of work and telling employees they should make time for the same; encourage workers to share their passions with each other; and provide financial support for workers to pursue outside activities.

“Flexibility is often cast as a solution for the ‘musts’ of life — parents who must pick up their children from daycare and thus use flexibility to shift some work from the afternoon into the evening, or employees who must live far away and thus use flexibility to avoid a long commute,” the article concludes. “Instead, we suggest that flexibility should also allow for the ‘wants’ of life — it should give employees the space to pursue their passions and come to work invigorated from those experiences.”

The article in Harvard Business Review – “To retain employees, support their passions outside work” – is co-authored by Lauren Howe of the University of Zurich, Jon Jachimowicz of Harvard Business School, and Dr Jochen Menges of the University of Zurich and Cambridge Judge Business School.