What’s love got to do with it, especially at work?

Come to find out, quite a bit.

Personally it makes sense that when we receive and give care to another human being we feel more energized, connected, loved in turn.

Yet, that’s not so obvious in the workplace, at least not to most.

Recent studies, however, show that those who perceive greater affection and caring from their co-workers actually perform better.

Professors of Management, Sigal Barsade and Olivia O’Neill have conducted a number of studies on this idea of creating a culture of ‘companionate love.’  Companionate love includes shared experiences of affection, concern and compassion amongst co-workers.  Asking about an ill parent.  Offering a kind word during a hectic project. Listening to concerns vs. gossiping.

Their early results, within a non-profit, long-term healthcare facility, revealed that in this caring culture employees showed up to work more often and reported higher levels of satisfaction and teamwork.  Further, the companionate love culture directly influenced patient mood and outcomes, their felt sense of quality of life,  and resulted in fewer trips to the ER.

Ok, you think, it’s already a ‘caring culture,’ so why the surprise?

Thought you’d ask. These two professors then extended their research going on to survey 3,201 employees, across seven industry groups from financial services to real estate, on the idea of creating a culture of companionate love.

And, guess what? Love’s got a lot to do with it!

Love Culture

Seems that people, across business industries and within cultures where the freedom to express affection, tenderness and care for one another­ is valued, end up expressing greater satisfaction with their work. Additionally, they hold solid commitments to their organizations, and show increased accountability for their overall performance. Solid business outcomes!

What’s not to love?!

Organizations leading the way in creating cultures of companionate love include the likes of Whole Foods, Subaru, Starbucks, Zappos.

The rest of us?   In addition to the CARE suggestions listed in the prior post, consider the following your Valentine’s Day love note:

  • Expand your definition of workplace ‘culture,’to  include not only cognitive thinking skills e.g. analysis & decision-making, but emotional skills and ways of interacting with one another e.g. kindness, listening, and empathy. Pick one; act on it.
  • And, in turn, pay attention to the influence of your own emotional expressions at work, as they’ll inevitably impact the general mood and culture of everyone.   Own them.
  • Companionate love or business as usual?  What action will you take?

Mind your mind; mind your mood. That’s what love’s got to do with it!