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Overqualified Employees Need Passion to Fulfill Potential

Research from the University of Western Australia finds that overqualified workers with “harmonious passion” are more likely to quit their job due to a lack of meaningful work.

By Maggie Mancini

Overqualified employees can fulfill their career potential if they have passion for their work, according to research from The University of Western Australia. The paper investigates the role that “harmonious” and “obsessive” work passion plays in unlocking potential for overqualified employees.  

Harmonious passion means that work is integrated into a person’s identity and balanced with other life domains, while obsessive passion is derived from external pressure and characterised by a compulsive need to work. In Australia—as well as in the United States—one-third of workers feel overqualified. This can have negative consequences for their careers, according to recent reports.  

“When unemployment levels increase, so too does the number of applicants for each job and that includes workers who may feel overqualified for the role,” says Alex Luksyte, associate professor and co-author of the paper. “Despite having more knowledge, skills, and abilities to do their job, overqualified employees may also become bored and voluntarily quit to find better fitting employment.”  

The researchers conducted two studies, one involving registered surgeons and the other various professionals. The first looks at career turnover among surgeons, and the second study also includes career performance as another indicator of subjective career success. In both studies, overqualified employees with higher harmonious passion were more likely to consider quitting because they did not feel their work was meaningful.  

The results suggest psychometric testing in selection or career counseling could include a measure of harmonious passion, particularly for employees who believe they are overqualified. Assessing harmonious work passion may be helpful when coaching, mentoring, or planning developmental activities for all employees.  

Tags: APAC May 2024, APAC News

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