We often hear people say they love their job; or they love their boss or coworkers. Why do we use such an emotive word to describe our work?
Many people don’t realize that love is both a noun and a verb — it’s also an action word. It’s difficult to love someone if we’re not loved in return. There’s a give and a take. I’d like to suggest from my experience that we sometimes “love” our work; our boss or our coworkers not only based on what we receive from them but also what we give to them.
Every year, we hear about organizations being rated as a “Great Place to Work” and when we dig a little deeper, we can see the organization is “loved” because it “loves” its workers. The attributes of such award-winning organizations are not rocket science. Such organizations are deemed to be making a positive contribution to the world. Such organizations pay their people well. They create a platform for their employees to grow and contribute their ideas. Leadership has humility and yet still makes the numbers. Talking of numbers — great places to work share their financial results and educate their employees on how their work impacts the numbers. Such organizations have intentionally trimmed the red tape as much as possible and unleash talent to thrive within its hallways and to work from home when wanted. There’s a high degree of trust within such “Great Places to Work.”
You could say all these attributes are what the organization gives and so the employees take. Yet, a remarkable response ensues from employees who feel loved — in return, they give their very best to the organization; to their boss and to their coworkers. The love is reciprocated. This might sound a little too much — all this talk of “love” and “work” and yet, I am sure you agree with me there are some organizations that just feel different to others. I’d suggest that difference is the amount of love flowing between the employer and the employee and when it’s high we benefit as the consumer.
The principle at play here is the Golden Rule — when employees are treated well, they generally will reciprocate in their response by how they treat customers and colleagues. The late Dr. Stephen Covey said: “Treat your employees how you want them to treat your customers” and I concur with that paradigm.
What astounds me even more is those rare individuals who demonstrably show their love for their customers and coworkers even if their organization would actually be deemed a “Pretty Mediocre Place to Work.” Why do they give 100% when most of their coworkers don’t? Why do they provide 5-star, gold-level service when everyone around them is apathetic? I have observed such people in different roles, in different organizations in different parts of the world and yet, I have found they seem to have one thing in common — the love they give is not based on what they take.
I’m a big Beatles fan and in their song “The End” they suggest: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” Relating this to the workplace, I understand on a transactional level some employees do see the world this way — they take because they give but I believe the very best employees are those who give, disproportionately to what they take.
Such employees don’t see their working world as give and take. They don’t work by an operating principle of treating others well because they’re treated well. The love these folks are operating on seems to come from deep within, regardless of their employment circumstance or external stimuli. It is indeed these employees I most admire.
See, when organizations fall off the league table of “Great Places to Work” (and they do), the love they demonstrate in the way they work doesn’t diminish. It seems to me these lovely people have an eternal focus even when surrounded by a world of work that doesn’t always show love in its fixation on the temporal.