It is human nature to want to be loved. Even in the workplace people need to belong, to be cared for, and yes, LOVED. Love might seem like an awkward word when speaking about work, but it is a feeling people crave. Appreciation. Love. Respect. And you can understand why considering most employees spend more waking hours at work, or in work related activities, than they do with family and friends. It just makes sense that there is a desire to feel loved and cared for in the workplace. Think about it… Why would someone want to stay where they are not loved, appreciated and respected?  

It is vital to our psychological development to be a part of something bigger than yourself. People can meet this desire through work. Dating back to the 1940s, psychologist Abraham Maslow developed his Hierarchy of Needs, a five-level structure of the basic human needs. Maslow professed that each level on the pyramid of needs must be met before one can move to the next level. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs begins with physiological needs including food, water, shelter. The second level is safety needs, which includes employment and health. The third level is the notion of belonging and love. After belonging and love comes esteem. Esteem is feeling like one is making a positive contribution. Finally, self-actualization, where meaning is found. 

Show Some Love

Belonging and love is where friendships and relationships are formed. It is about the connection of being with others. Building successful teams takes place here. Ultimately, humans are striving for the top tier of the pyramid, but to get there, the other levels must first be met. The leaders in the organization can positively contribute to a team member’s level of feeling loved by ensuring team members feel a part of the organization. 

In the book Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay, Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans share how loving your employees includes showing respect and appreciation for them. Kaye and Jordan-Evans also emphasize the importance of developing your employees and challenging them to continue to grow.  If you do not show this level of concern for your team members, you will lose them. They will leave for your competition, or even worse, stay with you, but disengage. Disengagement will ultimately decrease productivity within your organization. 

Care and Concern is Critical

The theory of Meaning-Centered Leadership agrees! Employees are the most valuable asset within the organization. Team members can make or break the success of the business. Meaning-Centered Leadership focuses specifically on engagement through trust, care and concern, and communication.  If you truly care about your employees and invest in their development, they will invest right back into your organization. Time and time again, increased engagement has proven to lead to increased organizational profitability.  

Today it is more important than ever to show that you care, and, yes, even love, your employees.  Be sure to take some time to get to know each member of your team on a personal level. Your check-ins must include the simple words, “How are you?”  Failing to ask this one simple question will be detrimental to the level of love your employees feel. 

Communication is Key

These are trying times and they require authentic conversations about personal feelings and challenges. Ask each team member on a regular basis how they are doing, but be sure you are ready to listen. This is not the time to be multi-tasking or in a hurry. If you don’t have time to authentically listen to the response, then don’t ask the question in the first place!

There is nothing worse than a question asked without the backing of a true interest in the answer. A fraud can be spotted instantly. Set aside special time to just listen and engage with each team member on a personal level. Do not feel like you need to provide solutions. It is okay to just listen. Be that caring ear outside of their immediate circle and show that you authentically care about their well-being. 

Being a good human being and caring about each individual employee will pay dividends back to your organization through increased engagement and productivity. Happy employees lead to happy customers. Happy customers lead to a profitable organization. Be sure to take care of your employees and they will ultimately take care of the clients and the organization in return.