A former manager and mentor once said to me , “ You could get passionate about selling baked beans .” I wasn’t sure how to take this at first as I was in the caring business not the supermarket business. As it turns out it was intended as a compliment about my enthusiasm for work.
Years later when I was recruiting senior managers I was struck by how often candidates referred to their “passion” for the work. Whilst I have never seen it write into the Person Specification for a management post it is clear that candidates believe that employers are looking for more than competence, experience and qualifications. They want energy, enthusiasm and a high level of commitment summed up as ,”Passion”.
This requirement for passion and committed have contributed to the creation of the long hours culture amongst senior managers in most organisations. The backlash from which has been the debate on the work/life balance. Along side this has been concern about unrealistic expectations, over ambitious targets and increased financial constraints which have caused employers to recognise the impact this might have on employees mental health and well-being.
So news that ideas from the US about offering yoga, meditation and mindfulness sessions to employees in work time might be considered evidence of positive steps forward in looking after the health and well-being of employees. But there is another more sinister interpretation.
In trend setting silicon valley this type of offer to employees is commonplace but there is a concern that yoga, meditation and mindfulness sessions at work are not so much about promoting health and well-being as a more productive employee. This has led some sociologist to claim that the blurring of work/life and the requirement for passion and commitment has seen the growth of the idea of work as a religion. It is work that now gives life purpose and meaning. Work becomes 24/7 squeezing out other “ distractions” such as family, church, hobbies/leisure activities and non work friendships. Work becomes the new religion.