“If just about every person on the planet has at some point spoken about the centrality of love to well-being, why do we hear so little about it in the context of work?” Can You Really Power an Organization with Love?, Harvard Business Review by Duncan Combs.
Join me in a rare, perhaps somewhat uncomfortable, and increasingly important discussion about love in the workplace. Let me start by saying that love in the workplace certainly has to look different than how love might look at home. And, yet, there are many similarities.
I bet most of us could describe how it feels when we work in a place about which we care deeply and that, we believe, touches us emotionally as well as financially. If it exists in your organization, you probably wake up looking forward to going to work. You feel comfortable knowing that your ideas will be valued, even if they are not immediately applauded. Co-workers care about you as a human being and are eager to work with you toward common goals.
This is love in the workplace, and research is clear that it results in a stronger sense of commitment, accountability, and overall job satisfaction. And, it is the emotional underpinning of outstanding results.
At a basic level, love at work is about viewing employees as humans and whole people, not just cogs in the company wheel. This “whole person” approach inevitably leads to improvements in work performance as a result of feeling valued and recognized as real people who have real personalities and lives outside the office.
Personal experience and recent research show that employees who work in environments that they believe are caring, loving, and compassionate often experience higher levels of satisfaction, produce more, and are more excited about going to work. A loving company culture can actually enhance the human connection and foster a strong sense of community in the workplace.
“Have you ever climbed the ladder of success only to find it’s leaning against the wrong wall?”
An important distinction in leadership when looking at love in the workplace is the difference between success and fulfillment. Leaders who belong to organizations that lack workplace love often report that successfully accomplishing major goals ends up with a feeling of workaholism. It may be satisfying, but it’s not fulfilling; it doesn’t energize us, it doesn’t leave us inspired to do more.
Conversely, leaders in organizations that embrace and enhance the whole employee (and practice what we are calling “workplace love”) generally feel happier about their accomplishments and their lives overall. It often feels less like a job and more like something they are called to do. And it’s not surprising that those who feel called to something are more energetic, inspired, and productive.
Love in the workplace begins with authentic caring and actionable compassion. As busy leaders, we often fail to see the value in spending quality time getting to know one another as whole people. It feels soft. But research shows this drives employee engagement and works wonders at fostering a sense of community. It builds trust and confidence in each other, which is hugely important when we work on tough problems or in conflict.
As a leader, I encourage you to try to learn more about what makes your employees human beings and not just human doings. What do they truly care about? Do they have families? What are their greatest passions and interests outside of work? What makes work fulfilling for each of them as individuals? What are they inspired to contribute whether at work or at home? What do they love?
Deeper insight into what makes your people passionate will enable you to consider what changes you can make in your workplace and culture to empower everyone to achieve that about which they care deeply. This carries over to how their work enhances their personal lives, creating a healthy cycle of community and accomplishment that keeps everyone satisfied.
It’s a conversation we’re confident you’ll love having.
Does your organization need help establishing a sense of love and community in the workplace? Read our The Vitality Imperative, to learn more about how connected leaders and teams can accomplish more with less time, money, and stress.