What does loving your work do for your business? According to Marcus Buckingham’s latest article in the Harvard Business Review, (1) designing work that people love has more implications for business performance than you might think.

When you are in love with another person your brain chemistry changes, and according to neuroscience, this same chemical is present when you engage in an activity that you love. According to neurobiology, loving what you do can lessen the regulatory function of your neocortex, widening your perspective of yourself and liberating your mind to accept new thoughts and feelings. You perform cognitive tasks faster and better. You are more optimistic, more forgiving, and more open to new information and experiences. In other words, “doing what you love makes you more effective.”

So, how does this apply to business? Buckingham points out that in order to “attract and retain the best people we must redesign jobs around a single but powerful concept: Love for the content of the work itself.”

Buckingham’s research points out that the most powerful predictions to retention, engagement, performance, and resilience were positive answers to the following three questions:

  • Was I excited to work every day last week?
  • Did I have a chance to use my strengths every day?
  • At work do I get a chance to do what I’m good at and something I love?

Hence, loving one’s work is clearly a positive in the workplace, but how should it be approached? According to Buckingham, the following three principles should be incorporated into your organisational approaches:

  1. The people are the point.
    Recognise that employees, rather than customers or stakeholders are the most important shareholders in your organisation. That means that you recruit human beings not workers; that there is a human-centric approach to onboarding; the organisation commits to lifelong learning; and that great attention is focused on actively cultivate positive relations with your alumni.
  2. One size fits one means that you avoid tools that standardise.
    Roles are defined by a few measured outcomes rather than a competency model. Also, focus on teams. Research indicates that workers who reported that they felt part of a team were 2.9 times as likely than others to be fully engaged.
  3. In trust we grow. In a global survey 50,000 participants were asked whether they trusted their teammates, their team leader, and their senior leader. Those who strongly agreed that they trusted people in two of the three categories were three times as likely as others to be fully engaged and highly resilient. Those who strongly agreed that they trusted all three were 15 times as likely to be highly resilient.

With employee engaged levels as low as 18% before the pandemic, redesigning work and workplaces towards engagement and “love” is no longer a suggestion, but a necessity. Research suggests that even loving 20% of your job can mitigate burnout, disengagement and more. In the newly released book, from Tracey Swanepoel in “Leading for Engagement: 7 Sins and 7 Secrets” she provides a roadmap for leaders to ensure their team members are fully engaged. The upcoming online high level People Management for the New Workplace Conference on 22nd and 23rd of June will also share new perspectives, ideas and success stories to unlock your people’s potential more intentionally. Join us to learn about love and engagement in the workplace— we hope to see you there.

Buckingham, M. (2022, May-June). hbr.org. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review: