Tag Archives: relationships

Companionate Love in the Workplace

The holiday season often opens employees’ hearts to a level of warmth and caring for one another not commonly seen during other times of the year. Recent research shows, though, successful companies are finding that love and compassion are powerful forces for high performance all year round.

According to a study conducted by Sigal Barsade and Olivia A. O’Neill, “The more love co-workers feel at work, the more engaged they are.” They’re not talking about romantic love, of course, but what they called “companionate love” which is characterized by warmth, affection and connection rather than passion. The title of the study is ”What’s Love Got to Do With It?: The Influence of a Culture of Companionate Love in the Long-term Care Setting.

Satisfied Employees = Satisfied Customers
Here’s what they learned. Employees who felt they worked in a loving, caring culture reported higher levels of satisfaction and teamwork, and they showed up to work more often. The research also demonstrated that this type of culture related directly to client outcomes, including improved patient mood, quality of life and satisfaction.

The study offers numerous tips and guidelines on how to create a culture of caring that also produces high performance, but what’s most important are the little everyday things. According to Sigal and O’Neill, it’s “the small moments between coworkers, a warm smile, a kind note, a sympathetic ear — day after day, month after month, that help create and maintain a strong culture of companionate love and the employee satisfaction, productivity, and client satisfaction that comes with it.”

Engagement by the Book
If you’re looking for a “novel” way to create a loving, caring culture, check out an approach offered by an organization called Books @ Work. They are hired by companies to bring professors into the workplace to foster critical thinking, nurture interpersonal connection and strengthen a culture of trust, respect and inclusion through the discussion of great literature.

They work with all types of groups from front-line workers to senior managers, and the response has been extraordinary. Here are a few examples:

  • “Once you get into it in the books, and start bringing your own experience in, you start to learn about other people on a much deeper level.” (Specialty Healthcare Facility)
  • “I realized that there’s a little more depth to some of these guys than I knew before, and hopefully they thought the same thing about me. It was interesting to sit with the team and talk about our own perspectives and have a professor to bring it into focus. It brought our work group closer together, opened up lines of communication, [and] broke down barriers.” (Machinists Team)
  • “The participating shift had higher employee engagement scores on the company’s last regular survey. What it does is bring people together. I’ve seen the culture change. We are interacting with one another, we are learning something that we didn’t know.” (Manufacturing and Distribution Team)

So when it comes to employee performance and business results, what’s love got to do with it? A lot more than most people realize.

Watch this video to learn more about our approach to helping organizations align marketing communications and employee engagement. For more information, send us an e-mail or call us today at 314-664-6497.

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Winning hearts and minds.

My wife, Dawn, is a “personal chef.”  That’s culinary lingo for a person who prepares meals for small groups of people with whom the chef makes a close personal connection.  Sometimes, it’s just for a couple, rarely for more than 15-20 people. Sometimes it’s for a single night, sometimes for weeks or months or even years.  Sometimes it’s haute cuisine, and sometimes it’s meat and potatoes.  But one thing is constant with all chefs like Dawn.  The connection they make with the people they serve is up close and personal – unlike most dining experiences where the chef is removed and shrouded behind kitchen walls.

Dawn is also an avid reader of all things related to food and cooking.  Not just magazines, but websites, food-related murder mysteries, biographies and anything else she can lay her hands on.  On our recent vacation, she read a book called A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg, a food writer who’s highly popular right now in the culinary blogosphere (www.orangette.blogspot.com).  It’s an autobiographical love story with the kitchen at its center – along with lots of Wizenberg’s recipes.

Everyone Needs a Chocolate Cake

Dawn was so smitten by the story that she was constantly regaling me and our daughters during our trip with something funny or touching from the book.  As she read the final chapter, she was visibly moved.  It begins with an assertion that “Everyone needs a chocolate cake in her repertoire,” and Wizenberg’s is called the “Winning Hearts and Minds Cake.”  She writes, “It’s not something you want to serve to someone you feel so-so about.  It’s what you serve when you want his undivided attention.”  Setting aside that she was talking about her fiancé, the sentiment she captures later in the chapter relates strongly to a central theme in past issues of Inside Out.

As I wrote in one recently, the typical approach to marketing is focused disproportionately on promotional activities like advertising – the attraction side of the marketing formula.   By comparison, relatively little effort and expense goes for relationship-building – the retention side of marketing.  While both are essential, numerous studies show that efforts aimed at retention typically are more lasting and cost effective in the business-building process.

Relationships = Recipe for Success

In the last paragraph of her book, Wizenberg compares cooking to life, saying that “what it all comes down to is winning hearts and minds. Underneath everything else, all the plans and goals and hopes, that’s why we get up in the morning, why we believe, why we try, why we bake chocolate cakes.”

As Dawn has experienced time and again – and what every marketing and communication professional must understand – you don’t win hearts and minds through promotion and persuasion.  You earn it through personal relationship-building – with people both inside and outside the organization, especially when you want their “undivided attention” – and when you want them to feel like they’re the center of your world.  In the end, that’s the surest recipe for heart-throbbing success – in cooking, in business and just about everything else in life.

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