Fire and Its Impact on Workplace Performance

Performers see Fire as one of the most important elements of their performance.

We asked survey participants to rank which of the elements of the performance wheel most directly impact their performance with a skill they know and their ability to learn a new skill. In both questions, Fire was ranked number one most often. Performers see the immediate value of being passionate about the work they’re doing.

A lack of Fire indicates disengagement

According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace, only 33% of workers in the United States are engaged in their jobs, which means the remainder are either disengaged (51%) or actively disengaged (16%). And each disengaged employee costs you up to 34% of their salary.

However, there are definite limitations to simply labeling each employee as “engaged” or “disengaged.” This dichotomous classification could lead managers to the dangerous conclusion that “this employee is engaged; we shouldn’t worry about them.” Instead, engagement should be viewed as a spectrum unique to each individual employee.

How engaged is the average employee?

We surveyed more than 1,000 full-time workers. Rather than simply asking them whether they were engaged or disengaged, we asked to score how engaged they are in their current job.

On average, respondents scored their engagement at only a 67 out of 100. This could be interpreted two ways:

  1. Employees basically “sleepwalk” or turn on autopilot for 1/3 of their projects at work
  2. Employees only give 67% of their effort on each project they work on.

What causes disengagement?          

As we analyzed our survey results, we discovered that a lack of passion, drive, or motivation—what we refer to as one’s “Fire”—is one of the largest effectors of engagement within the workplace.

Key Takeaway:

While not the only cause (or effect) of disengagement, a lack of Fire can serve as a leading indicator of engagement problems to come.

How does Fire impact performance?

We asked: “On projects/tasks that you have a lack of Fire to complete, please grade the quality of your finished work.” The average response was a 68. When an employee has Fire about a particular project, the finished product will be up to 38% better than if they don’t have Fire for the project.

Key Takeaway:

When employees aren’t fired up about a task or project, they are less likely to give it their full effort. They are more likely to procrastinate and make mistakes. They are less likely to take ownership of a project.

How do managers impact Fire?

80% of workers said their managers impacted their Fire at least monthly, while more than 50% reported that their manager impacted their Fire at least WEEKLY. This impact can be both positive and negative depending on the manager’s actions.

Key Takeaway:

Manager actions are the biggest contributor to employee retention, but managers also play a huge role in the day-to-day performance of the employees who stay. Even the best employees can be burned out by manager tactics. Help your best employees do their best work by creating opportunities to learn and grow.

How can organizations impact Fire?

Managers have a clear, direct impact on their employee’s motivation, but managers and employees don’t operate in a bubble. Organizational processes can also weigh on an employee’s Fire.

Key Takeaway:

Organizations set the tone for manager-employee communication. Avoid a Fire-draining toxic environment by providing a clear company direction, providing the necessary tools, and by developing your managers into excellent coaches.

Not all Fire is created equal

A lot of Millennial research talks about "feeling fulfilled" and "liking what you do" and "doing something that matters." But a lack of Fire toward a particular project can show up even if you love your job and organization. And vice versa.

Rank the following in order of which is most important in increasing your overall Fire to do a good job:

            I like the day-to-day tasks and projects of my job. (37%)

            I like my specific role within the organization. (27%)

            I like my organization and what we're trying to accomplish. (24%)

            I like the great relationship I have with my boss. (14%)

Key Takeaway:

Supporting employees in their day-to-day tasks and projects can be a difficult task, but it is a crucial element to keep employees engaged. It isn’t enough to illustrate the good your organization is doing. Employees need to feel connected to and inspired by their daily tasks, too.

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