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What’s Love Got to Do with It

June 27, 2022 by

If companies want to perform, they need to redesign work in such a way that people love what they do. That is the conclusion of Marcus Buckingham, head of people and performance research at the ADP Research Institute, in an article that he wrote for Harvard Business Review.

Work “isn’t working for us” and that needs to change, he writes. According to surveys of ADPRI only 18% of respondents were fully engaged at work, 17% felt highly resilient and 14% trusted their leaders. And that was before the pandemic. Those are worrying low percentages.

“Only when a company intelligently links what people love to their actual activities will it achieve higher performance, higher engagement and resilience, and lower turnover. To stem the tide and to attract and retain the best people, we must redesign jobs around a simple but powerful concept: love for the content of the work itself. That word may seem strong in this context, but people’s affinity for their work can and should reach this level, and when it does, amazing things can happen”, Buckhingham writes. “Finding love in work is not self-indulgent or narcissistic; it is a precursor and an amplifier of performance.”

This means redesigning the organization according to three principles:

  1. Employees, rather than customers or shareholders, are the most important stakeholders.
  2. One size fits one: every employee has distinct loves, interests, and skills. Better pay attention to this diversity.
  3. Trust is the foundation of all practices and policies.

The article provides evidence for these three principles.

The article fits in a wider body of research that suggests that value creation starts with happy employees that lead to happy customers that lead to higher financial returns. It also points to the importance of trust, which is in ELP’s view so important that we dedicate our Annual Conference 2022 to it, see https://www.leadershipconference.eu/.

Designing work that people love. It’s easier than you think. Marcus Buckingham. Harvard Business Review, May-June 2022