By business author and Purple Cubed founder, Jane Sunley
The origins of Valentine’s Day are somewhat murky, from martyred priests and blood-soaked fertility rituals, to tales of an imprisoned Saint Valentine falling in love with his jailer’s daughter. Beloved of florists, card manufacturers and restaurateurs, today it’s a very popular opportunity to celebrate love. Love can mean many things; mutual respect, understanding and tolerance, kindness, compassion and transparency, personal attachment, excitement, the drive to spend time and achieve things together…
This resonates with employee engagement, if you think about it. As lines blur between home and work, ‘loving what you do’ is becoming more and more important. Winner of countless ‘best employer’ awards, Firmdale Hotels created their employer brand around it.
Yet, although engagement levels are slowly on the rise at last, according to Gallup, globally those who are actively engaged number just 18% (even though high engagement links to productivity, and, according to Gallup’s research, engaged companies enjoy ‘substantially better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, 21% higher profitability and better health outcomes’.)
Enabling people to genuinely love their work is less dependent on hugging (à la Ted Baker) and more about getting the fundamentals right so the employee experience can become, as would be ideal in any relationship, as positive, productive and fulfilling as possible. Below are our recommendations for 10 fundamental areas to consider:
- Culture: clarity is key – who are you and what do you stand for? Diversity and inclusivity are important so it’s more about making sure people know before they join you what to expect and whether they can support your purpose and values, therefore adding to what you do.
- Purpose: people need to understand what you’re all there to do and where you’re going, so they can feel excited about making a contribution. Make it bold and super simple e.g. “To create a better everyday life for the many people” – IKEA
- Leadership: a top team who are committed to creating a workplace where it’s possible (or maybe even unavoidable) to ‘love what you do’ with managers at all levels who support this mission with hearts and minds.
- People promise: a clear and evolving statement of what people can expect if they work with you; this goes beyond pay and benefits to include career progression, learning and development, digital resources, support and so on.
- Communication: open, clear, honest, two-way, on-going dialogue is vital. Teach people to say how they feel in an emotionally intelligent way to head off potentially damaging conflict and make improvements as they go. Make key messages clear and consistent.
- Trust: it takes time to build and no time at all to lose. People have to work hard at it and if things happen to damage trust, own up, deal with it and start to rebuild immediately – 58% would trust a stranger over their boss!
- Teamwork: featuring highly in the results of almost every employee survey Purple Cubed delivers, this is about having a connection; a feeling of sharing a purpose and activities, of mutual understanding – creating enigmatic, warm and happy feeling of being together.
- Tolerance: being flexible and prepared to compromise is of vital importance in a world where information flow is fast and furious and change really is the only constant.
- Feedback: beyond reward for a job well done, recognition is so important in any relationship. Ensure that giving and receiving feedback becomes the norm, are viewed as healthy and essential and that people are well equipped to do both.
- Kindness: being caring and kind should be a priority for every modern workplace. Small acts make an impact that is disproportionately larger than the effort put in. Ban negativity and gossip, instead role modelling the behaviours you’d like to see – kindness is infectious.
Come to think of it, all of these factors for ‘loving what you do’ equally apply to personal relationships. You could even rate your workplace / yourself against them and build an improvement plan…