What the Workforce Needs Now, Is Love, Sweet Love

This week I’m going to get a little sappy. I’m going to suggest something a little off the wall – but before I do, let’s talk about love.

Love is an unparalleled motivator.

When you are young it causes you to do crazy things without a second of hesitation. For example, love can cause you to stay up all night talking on the phone to that new person you met (for the kids, talking on the phone is what mom and dad used to do instead of texting).

When you become parents, love can cause you to make the most insane funny faces or sounds just for the mere chance that your little one may reward you with an unbridled and completely infectious belly laugh. Side note:  my wife still does this to kids who are not our kids. She thinks it’s cute. The little child thinks it’s frightening as hell, but I love her, so I stay quiet and let her continue the nightmare-inducing ritual.

The Power of Love
Last month, my kids suddenly asked me to go to the gym with them. I was excited to be asked. Could it be happening? Am I cool enough to hang out with again? Maybe?

Not quite.

It turns out the real reason was that they want me to stay healthy. They want me to be around when they are older and have their own kids. I know they love me and love was the driver behind their request, but it also means they recognize that I need to get in shape. Humbling.

Love is also the reason I acted on it without hesitation. Of course I knew I needed to get in shape. I knew I needed to stay healthy to have an active lifestyle later in life. I knew I would enjoy playing with my eventual grandchildren much more if I could keep up with them. But knowing all of that did not get me off the couch.  Love did! Loving my kids. Wanting to please them. Wanting to make them happy. Wanting to make them proud. That is what really moved me from thinking and knowing to doing.

And now, you are all reading the thoughts of an official Orange Theory member. Six pack coming soon…

When I think about my kids pushing me to the gym, I’m not angry or insulted by their honesty. I appreciate it; it showed they genuinely care.

What’s Love Got to Do with It (or Work)?
Remember when I said I had an off-the-wall suggestion? Here it comes.

The entire experience got me thinking: Can we create love at work? Does it belong there? Would it have the same impact? If so, how do we create it?

I’m not talking about loving where you work or what you do, but rather can you love the people with whom you work? I’m not going to lie, it feels a little weird as I write it. But I really do wonder.

Can we care about the people we work with in a similar way we care for our families? If we could, would motivation improve? Would the culture change?

I think it could.

Love is unconditional and unconditional love builds trust. All of my examples above were instinct based – no one thought them through before acting because there was no concern of repercussion. You don’t worry about backlash when you love someone. When you disagree or debate with someone you love, you do not walk away angry or disappointed or wonder what their angle is. You are not insulted. Their honesty actually causes you to reflect and grow. Sometimes it stings, but you take it to heart and grow.  You know their intentions are good because they love you, and their honesty makes your relationship stronger.

Imagine if that is what happened at work. Honesty and candor promoted. Reflection encouraged.  Relationships strengthened. Loyalty and engagement driven by loving each other. Lord knows we need something.

Just last month I read a post on Gallup’s blog called The World’s Broken Workplace, where they stated that only 15% of the global workforce is engaged. That is a staggering stat. In the U.S. it’s better, with 30% engaged, but that still means 70% are actively disengaged and a significant number of workers actually hate work.

Can love change this? I have to believe it can, but, admittedly, I am not sure how to promote love at work. I don’t believe it is something that can be formalized or over-engineered. I think it starts with not being afraid to love those you work with. Care about them as human beings. Yes, we are all part of a team, but why can’t we also be part of a family. Family loves and supports each other; they want to see each other succeed and grow.  I’m not sure it’s all that different in the workplace – or at least I don’t believe it has to be.

What do you think? I would really love to hear your thoughts. Pun intended!