• Rachel Treece

How to fall in love with your job

Happy Valentines Day everyone!

On this most romantic of days it’s worth talking about LOVE at work. And no, I’m not talking about the office romance kind of love. I’m talking about a different kind: the love we aspire to have with our work and what each of us can do to enhance that relationship – both for ourselves and for our colleagues and teams.

Loving your work (or even just being satisfied) is such an important factor in our overall health and happiness. On average, we spend well over twice as much time at work than with our spouse – and yet, a YouGov survey shows that in the UK for example only 17% of people love their jobs. So what can do about this? A huge amount has been written and continues to be published about how we should all follow our dreams and find the perfect job.

Much of this might be laudable, but doesn’t it also seem a bit like the world of dating and the Hollywood dream of the “perfect forever partner”? Maybe there is something to be learned in how to find love in our work in the same way that people approach romance. Isn’t there also merit on reflecting on the ingredients that will enhance your existing job? Or even once you find a great job, understanding how to stay in love with it over time?

With that in mind, what are some of the things we can all do to transform an ordinary job into the extraordinary? I’ve met a number of people that claim they love their jobs and I have to admit their positivity has made me look at my work differently. And for those of us in leadership positions… how can we work to create a deeper, richer experience for our people and our future?

From my work with dozens of organisations at fts global and WELLBUSINESS™, I believe this comes down to four essential ingredients:

  1. Aligning Purpose Daniel Pink’s seminal book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” identified mastery and purpose as two of the three essential ingredients to increase both performance and satisfaction, significantly above salary and other material benefits. So whilst it’s becoming more common for organisations to talk about their mission, it’s equally important for employees to know their own purpose and to use this as a platform for their career and personal development . For each of us, this means asking important questions about our own personal why – i.e. what do I care most about? How does my position in the organisation relate to my personal mission? The more we can be clear on this, the more we can then identify current and future projects to contribute to. And then for our organisations as whole, we must invest in identifying and communicating the why of the whole business or NGO – and engaging all our people in that critical journey.

  2. Stronger Leadership The other ingredient Daniel Pink identifies for performance and satisfaction is autonomy. This means being a bold leader yourself, whilst at the same time as seeking to empower other talent in your teams. Bold leadership is more and more essential, as societal change accelerates and organisations face moments of transformation and ambiguity. And at the same time, we need to encourage and empower others to contribute more to the success of the organisational mission with creativity and innovation.