Do you have to love your job? And how can HR help staff find that loving feeling?
Jobs. Careers. Occupations.
Most people have them, but a lot of people aren’t fond of them - Gallup put this figure to be somewhere between 70 and 85% of all employees.
When employees are emotionally attached to their role, they’re capable of engaging with their work much more effectively.
But it’s also true that not everybody lands their dream role, and you can’t force someone to appreciate something.
So, how important is loving your job, and what can managers and HR leaders do to help employees get emotionally invested?
How important is emotional attachment for keeping someone at their job?
According to our definition of employee engagement, an engaged employee is one with a strong sense of attachment and commitment to their role, their colleagues and the company they work for. So, in that sense, loving your job is very important. After all, poor engagement is a recipe for high employee turnover.
But “love” is also a very strong term. You could argue that it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to love or even like their jobs. After all, very few people dream of waiting on tables or performing hard labour.
That might explain the results of a (currently ongoing) LinkedIn poll essentially asking people if loving one’s job is necessary. So, how important is loving your job?
With more than 8,200 responses at the time of writing, the most popular answer is ‘No, but you should enjoy it’ at 48%, narrowly beating out ‘Yes, passion matters’ at 47%. By comparison, ‘No, it’s okay to dislike it’ has gotten only 5% of the vote.
And it’s certainly true that, as well as keeping turnover down, loving where you work can keep you resilient in the face of job stress. But what aspects of their working lives do people tend to get attached to?
What is there to love?
Fortunately, it isn’t just an employee’s basic responsibilities that can make them love what they do, although that’s certainly a big part of it. Here are the aspects of employee experience your staff are most likely to latch onto:
- The work itself: Getting the obvious one out of the way first, an ability to take pride in one’s work is very important. From solid customer service to creative roles like graphic design, not only does pride push employees to work harder, but it’s also a source of accomplishment that can help them weather the stress of a busy quarter.
- The company and its objectives: Some people really love the organisations they work for, or perhaps the goals or missions that company represents, whether it’s the innovation of a tech company, or the values of an environmentally conscientious business. Being emotionally attached to goals larger than themselves helps employees to bring passion and positivity to even the dullest assignments because of the good they could contribute to.
- The people you work with: If there’s one thing people have stopped taking for granted over the past year and a half, it’s the people they work alongside. Social wellbeing is vital for employees, and their relationships with their colleagues can make or break a person’s working life.
But there’s another reason that friendships with colleagues are so important for creating an engaging workplace culture. Unlike when you were mates in school getting re-seated for talking too much, workplace friendships can make your staff more productive.
It’s partly down to ease of collaboration as you learn each other’s strengths and habits, and partly due to the fact it’s just more enjoyable to work with someone you like.
- Clients and customers: Oftentimes, it’s the customers that determine whether a person’s employee experience is good or bad, like the fact that people who enjoy bar-work tend to do so because they meet a lot of interesting people. But, at the same time, people who hate bar-work may dislike it because of rude and sometimes aggressive drunk customers.
How can HR help employees to build emotional links?
The main issue with that ‘How important is loving your job’ LinkedIn poll from earlier is that its phrasing puts the obligation to love or enjoy one’s work squarely on employees. But there’s nothing wrong with not liking your job if it’s inherently unlikable.
Employees have no obligation to pretend to enjoy their work. Instead, the obligation falls on employers and HR leaders to create workplace cultures and employee experiences that their staff can love. So, let’s go over how to stop employees leaving, and look at what building attachment to work actually requires from HR leaders:
- Focus on wellbeing: Our regular readers know that wellbeing is our watch-word for 2021. Supporting employee wellbeing is not only the right thing to do, but it motivates loyalty to the organisation and its other employees. Besides, it’s very difficult to love a job where you aren’t treated with respect.
- Encourage social activities: Again, we can’t stress just how important social connections are among your employees. Full-time work takes up a lot of our waking hours, so it’s only common sense that liking your co-workers makes work more enjoyable.
Social activities like a meal out, or even just ice-breaking games in a more casual meeting can help break down social barriers. Just make sure that workplace social functions aren’t mandatory though, or people are guaranteed to hate them.
- Set reasonable workloads: A good manager doesn’t set out to bury their team under a mountain of work. But, when things go wrong or business picks up, things can keep getting added to the pile until the mountain sneaks up on you. It’s important to regularly revisit task allocation for your team members to make sure they’re manageable workloads. When in doubt, use SMART Goal-setting to check things over.
- Give employees a voice: Unfortunately, a lot of employees view HR personnel like they’re Ursula Under the Sea: There to silence you forever. But HR can actually do a lot to help employees be heard.
Move beyond dusty old annual engagement surveys and implement systems for regular feedback. Frequently checking in with staff means you’ll always have a good idea of employee sentiment about what’s appreciated and what needs to change in your business.
So, ultimately, the answer to the question, ‘How important is loving your job?’ is that it can be very important. But there’s no forcing it. HR and executive leaders can only try to build a workplace culture that employees love to be a part of.