Where awesome workplaces grow.

Love Thy Colleague

It took a confrontation with three spirits to scare Ebenezer Scrooge out of his selfishness. And his very first action after having a change of heart was to pour some overdue love on Bob Cratchit, his long-time colleague. Scrooge sent a child to buy and deliver the town’s biggest turkey to Cratchit’s house.


Red heart

Our employee engagement industry spends the year helping organizations uncover hidden truths in the workplace. Our clients want to proactively shape their culture into something that employees are proud of—something that motivates heroic performance by individuals and teams. And yet sometimes we fixate on solutions that involve programs or perks. Meanwhile, we overlook the most basic human need: love.


British philosopher Bertrand Russell describes love this way: “Love at its fullest is an indissoluble combination of the two elements, delight and well-wishing.”


The word “love” makes most cringe in the workplace. We’ve been conditioned to compartmentalize our human emotions. Love gets a lot of mileage in our homes, our places of worship, our sports, maybe even our schools. Think about volleyball. After every point, each team huddles in the center of the court. They hug. They pat. They encourage one another—no matter how great or awful the previous point was. But too many workplaces have 86’d the word love. (Even while writing this post, I messaged our company’s best writer with a question. She answered it. I said “thank you. I love you.” And she replied with the puking emoji.)


Trying to lead a team without love is like fishing with a pole that has no line. Love is the bond that draws two things together.


One group of employers may be the exception. Companies recognized as “Best Places to Work” seem to universally use the word “love” to describe their colleagues. For 11 years, we have seen thousands of Best Places honorees take that microphone at awards banquets and talk about how much they love their work, their workplaces, and their co-workers. Love may be the singlemost universal ingredient in these workplaces.


How can you show love to a colleague in the workplace?

  • Listen to someone attentively
  • Make someone feel important
  • Write an encouraging note
  • Help someone make their idea better (translate: challenge them)
  • Help someone who is going through a hard time
  • Give a gift

We live in a world that is thirsty for love. The major headlines of 2015 will be remembered not as illustrations of love, but the opposite. Rather than be dismayed at uncontrollable global conditions, look across your workplace. Who do you see that needs love? And what can you do today to share that love?


To that end, let me extend some love to our competitors. Towers Watson. Perceptyx. Gallup. Culture Amp. TinyPulse. Qualtrics. Glint. Though we spend all year talking to the marketplace about our differences, we’re all working together on the same problem. We each want work to be better for people. Thank you for your contributions to our industry. You are loved. You are respected.


This holiday season, if you want people to hustle for and brag about your workplace, focus on this one thing: love thy colleague. You don’t need permission. You don’t need budget. It only takes you.


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