Part three of a six-part series on workplace passion: creating it, sustaining it, and building an employer brand with it. This instalment discusses the importance of a collegiate work ethic and managing horizons.

The ethics of work ethic.

Myth: Staff, that work longer hours, must be working harder.

Fact: The internet is free at work. And it is time consuming.

Back when I was Strategy Director at eBrands, (around Mad Men – Season One) I conducted a research interview with an incoming CEO of a large and storied Australian business. The interview is a standard part of eBrands employer brand engagement process. The CEO was very new to the company, and one of his comments to me has come to mind.

“I’m all for work-life balance but something has struck me since I started… I’m the first to arrive, and I’m the last to leave. Everyone arrives at precisely the allotted time, everyone leaves at the allotted time…no-one stays a moment later…or comes in a moment earlier. This is incredibly strange to me.”

Unfortunately – this isn’t strange when worker’s lack engagement; nor is it strange in George Orwell novels.

A passionate workforce will reveal itself through an adherence to a common work ethic that displays real commitment. Working hard, being busy, staying longer, having an out of office hours phone call across time zones with Asia… Are things that are easier when you believe in your work, and it’s one of those areas where an effective employer brand can deliver tantalising ROI.

Unfortunately, some workplace culture’s try to mimic this with the residual use of mantra’s like “work hard! play hard!”Harking back to days that celebrated the ‘dog eat dog’, sleep at your desk, Michael Douglas is better than you… workplace. Engaged workplaces are not ‘blokey’ and nor are they detrimental to your health.

The employer brand has an opportunity to set a healthy tone for work dynamics that can be illustrated using policy and recognition, and in turn create collegiate type effort.

The ethics of work ethic as we like to call it.


Horizons (they’re broader than goals).

The passionate workplace has no quarrels or confusion with regards to the corporate ‘purpose’. This lends the workforce a sense of steel and conviction.

Establishing a clear horizon and perspective on the company’s place in the world is reliant on the effectiveness of it’s branding and it’s internal communication. It’s difficult to imagine the Google’s, Virgin’s and the Medicin Sans Frontiers of the world’s having water cooler existential discussions about their purpose in the pecking order of things – even if Google’s is simply to ‘experiment’ at the moment.

Horizons should not be confused with goals; they represent an all-embracing vision and attitude that every employee has in common whatever their job specification; in other words, they go beyond measuring the immediate quarter. They’re typically attached to the mission statement, and ergo to the core of the employer brand.


Brand Impact

One of the most efficient catalysts we’ve seen for reigniting passion in an incumbent workforce is strategy around restating the corporate purpose in inclusive ways. Done correctly, it can overcome the challenges of geographic spread, tribalism, hierarchy and generational diversity.

Next installment – we’ll talk further about diversity while dodging bullets from snipers. To talk about your employment brand needs, contact [email protected]


Look forward to your thoughts below.

The Workplace Passion Series

Comments? Thoughts?