If there's one thing I know, it's that feeling passionate about what you do, and excited to come to work every day, is the very definition of success. Everybody should have a "calling," a "right livelihood," and a reason to get up in the morning knowing they're really needed by somebody.

Though The Wall Street Journal has some words of caution about that feeling of emotional ties to your job. Too much of a good thing can lead you down a path of dissatisfaction. In a 2018 study, a Clemson grad student found that putting all of your energy into your job is an unbalanced emotional "diet" that will leave you feeling unhealthy.  

It can end up in frustration, unnecessary stress on the job, resentment, or the temptation to focus on projects or goals that the employee favors, not the things that may be the healthiest for the organization as a whole.

So that's why I say, get your employees to ease off, just a little, on the dedication to their jobs and seek some balance in their lives. You know people will love their work more if they've had some downtime to recharge. You know they'll appreciate their clients and customers more if they're not tense and exhausted from competing to be "the best" far beyond their time and energy limitations. So help them get that balance. Reward them for seeking it in their own lives.

Think about it: You want people to feel they belong, are valued, and in turn can offer value to others.

You don't want people to feel that the company is their one true home without which they are nothing; that their own self-worth depends utterly on how well they're doing on the job; or even that they are more special than others--or more of a failure than others if things don't go as planned.

You'll get more from employees, keep them longer, and feel better about what you get from them if you are helping them be their best, balanced selves.

The study suggests that leaders focus on "engaging those who are unengaged" rather than spending energy trying to turn great employees into obsessed employees. So, turn your love, care, and expectation-generating machine on people who are at level one of  engagement with their jobs, and the vast majority of people up at level four will take care of themselves.

As a leader, your job is to help people understand the simple concept that I like to call "Love is just damn good business." Share with them the important idea that work means doing what you love in the service of people who love what you do. But also, at the end of the day, there's this concept called having a life! We all need to go find other parts of our lives that we love, and spend time with people who love that we come home to them.

It's hard as a boss to tell people to stop working and go home--but sometimes, that's exactly what we should do. A less direct, but even more powerful, approach is to gently steer your employees' thoughts toward home, outside interests, even the weather outside your windows, as the day comes to a close. Start reframing people's attention to other things and help them feel good about walking away when it's time to do that. 

It's just damn good business to care about the people you work with enough to let them go and chase that personal balance.

As our parents' generation used to say, "Everything in moderation."

Published on: Oct 15, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.