If you’ve ever written a job description that calls for passionate, hard-working candidates, did you ever stop to think about what that means? Sure, having engaged and loyal employees is the ultimate goal of any company, but the word “passion” is loaded.

These days, work and life are fairly blended together, and it can be difficult to know where one stops and the other begins. With this change has come a greater focus on passion in the workplace, but is this expectation really fair? Do your employees need to be passionate to do a good job and help your organization succeed?

The Truth about Passion in the Workplace

Let’s be honest: almost none of us feel passionate about our jobs 100% of the time. Overall, passion in the workplace is pretty scarce: in 2014, a Deloitte report revealed that a whopping 88% of people aren’t passionate at work. Now, that’s not to say that the numbers for engagement in the workplace are that dismal, but the findings are revealing. After all, work is work, and if your employees’ main focus is bringing home a paycheck to feed your family, they may find themselves overly procrastinating more often than not. Additionally, passion does not necessarily equate to talent or skill. It’s much better to have a skilled workforce than a passionate one that is unable to help the organization meet its goals.

What Jobs Require Passion?

One consideration when thinking about passion in the workplace is the job itself. If you’re looking for passion in the workplace, don’t look for it in the entry level positions—look for it in leadership. Choosing the right leaders—leaders who are passionate and can inspire others to engage are the backbone of strong culture. Engagement starts at the top and trickles its way down, so if your leaders aren’t invested in the company’s vision, why should employees on the ground level care about what they’re doing?

Passion is also variable based on the type of work. Teachers, social workers, and other service-based jobs are often low-paying, but are generally chosen as career paths by people who are passionate about helping others. Missing this ingredient in these career paths can spell disaster down the road.

The Disconnect Between Businesses and Workers

In startup culture especially, passion is highly prized. And why shouldn’t it be? The founders are closer to everything on the ground, and they know that building a business means taking direct action and following through with hard work. Staying motivated is easier when you’re passionate about what you’re doing. However, as long as you have smart, talented people who are dedicated to building the business, it’s not essential for all employees to match the founders’ passion.

Cultivating Passion in the Workplace

Of course, having passionate employees is good for business, and there’s nothing saying that you can’t encourage passion and engagement through culture. Creating excitement for the company’s mission and values, as well as providing a great working environment, can help employees feel invested in their jobs and increase productivity. They’ll need to feel challenged with complex problems, appreciated and recognized, and feel as though they’re working toward something bigger than themselves. Creating this kind of company culture isn’t easy, but it can have rich rewards. Having advancement opportunities will also help foster passion, as your employees won’t feel stuck—they’ll feel like they have something to work toward.

Remember, Job Descriptions are a Wish List

Whether or not you want to try cultivating passion in your workplace, don’t feel like it’s a requirement for hiring new team members. At the end of the day, it’s very important to remember that your job description is just a wish list for your dream candidate. We all know you’re not likely to find someone who checks off every single box, and that’s okay. What’s really important is establishing a team that can cover all of the essentials for what’s needed for the business to perform well. Passion, while nice, doesn’t usually make that list. Don’t feel like you have to grill candidates about why they want the job—chances are that it’s a chance to be a part of your organization, and of course, to bring home a paycheck.

By Ryan Ayers

About the author

Ryan Ayers has consulted a number of companies within multiple industries including information technology and big data. After earning his MBA in 2010, Ayers also began working with start-up companies and aspiring entrepreneurs, with a keen focus on data collection and analysis.