What are you looking for?

Passion Exploitation – Are you a victim of your WorkLife dreams?

Being passionate about your work is important. We all know that. We are told to talk about our “passion for the job” in every job application and interview we do. But once you are in the workplace, is that passion being used against you – for the benefit of your boss, or company?

Jan 16, 2020

We have all read articles or heard talks on “Following your passion” and “Money isn’t everything – work with your passion, instead”. Nice advice, but does anyone know how many passions = 1 dollar, when your rent costs 1000 dollars a month? What’s the currency exchange rate?

With the target of a perfect “Work-Life Balance” being at the forefront of many people’s life goals, of course it’s important to aim for that happy and fulfilled work life, but be careful – being passionate about your work can often lead to exploitation.

Research from Duke University in the US, found passion exploitation consistently across eight studies of more than 2,400 total participants. Their research found that

“…if someone is passionate about what they do, we see it as more legitimate to exploit them”

according to some participants.

It’s quite scary to think that your boss is asking you to give up family time on a weekend, work extra unpaid hours, or do a lot of tasks that are not in your job description – because they know that you really care, and are too emotionally involved in your work, to say NO! 

But we’ve all been there and done it though, right?

What generally happens is that, as part of a team, you want to be known as the team-player, who jumps in to help with that ‘one more thing’ that needs doing, or goes that extra mile to solve a client issue on a weekend – as it’s good for the business and great ‘customer service’. You want to rise up the career ladder, and these kinds of actions will help you. In theory, yes. But maybe not, if the results of this extra work, leads to eventual burn out, or unhappiness for the employee.

Professor Troy Campbell, from the University of Oregon, who co-authored the research, says “It is scary to think that when we see someone in a bad work situation, our mind may jump to the conclusion that they must be passionate about their work. While not always factually incorrect, this may serve to legitimize instances of mistreatment.”

We cannot assume that the passionate worker is always benefiting in “some other way”, there has to be an equal sharing of ‘extra’ tasks, amongst the team and management.

How do you know if you are being exploited?

Top Resume have a great article and a list of 3 things to look out for:

1. You’re the go-to employee for tasks outside of your job description

2. You’re expected to work extra hours … constantly

3. Your boss doesn’t respect your time off

Passion is important but you MUST set personal boundaries for yourself – you will never find that perfect WorkLife balance otherwise. These boundaries need to involve your relationship with technology – your phone and laptop, plus real-world relationships. Practice saying no.

The goal is to take better control of your time – and ultimately, better control of your WorkLife balance!

Thank you!