Abstract for: Where Has the Passion Gone? The Dynamics of Non-Profit Workers’ Passion Burnout and Intention to Leave

Overworked and underpaid non-profit workers is a common trope across the world. Passionate workers join the non-profit sector only to experience an overshoot and collapse in their passion level as a result of organisational conditions, and thus shore up their intention to leave over time. The dynamics of passion burnout is nothing new and has been studied extensively in the social sciences: scholars have identified predictors of turnover such as exhaustion, professional efficacy, insufficient reward and remuneration, and absence of fairness or organisational justice. This paper proposes the use of system dynamics as a powerful tool in modelling and understanding the interrelationships between various factors, from a systems perspective, in causing passion burnout – particularly amongst non-profit workers in Singapore. The results from a preliminary model suggest that work overload and physical exhaustion affecting productivity, fall in professional efficacy, and negative affection from perceived organisational injustice drive the overshoot and collapse behaviour in passion. Of these, role overload and high expectations of passionate employees was found to have the highest impact. In turn, this paper discusses the policy implications of the model in preventing passion burnout and mitigating the policy resistance in retaining passionate non-profit workers in the organisation and/or sector.