Love your job … and live happily ever after by Michelle Moss


Valentine’s Day is not just about flowers and candle-lit dinners. It’s an annual opportunity to contemplate the power of love and the promise of happiness when you find the only one for you.

‘The one’ doesn’t have to be a person. It could be a job; especially one offering fulfilment and satisfaction.

Research indicates love is good for you. You perform better and live longer. You feel happy, care-free. Everything seems possible. You feel less stress (love really is good for your heart).

Love for your job is positive, too. Happiness at work fosters team spirit while good health supports high productivity and quality outcomes.

Unfortunately, true love for the job is rare. A 2017 Gallup survey found 70% of employees are “actively disengaged”. They are indifferent, confirming that the curse of ‘presentism’ afflicts countless companies.

The lovelorn are frequently misunderstood. It’s the same at work. 89% of bosses say staff leave for money while only 12% of job-movers say money prompted their exit – so says the book The 7 Hidden Reasons Your Employees Leave by talent-retention expert Leigh Branham.

You stop being faithful because you are out of love.

Clearly, finding something to love about your job is key to a lasting relationship.

This prompted the inclusion of a ‘love test’ in questions put to job candidates and clients over several months.

They were asked ‘what is the one thing you love about your job?’

Many said the coffee breaks, the great cappuccino and water-cooler moments when they could chat to colleagues. The office bar or on-site drinks also featured strongly. A chance to unwind with peers is greatly appreciated.

Altruism and the opportunity to make a difference were also highlighted. People love to feel their work matters, that what they do improves lives or addresses social problems.

Technical proficiency can also instil love. ‘Digging out the truth’ created some loving moments for one claims investigator and childhood Nancy Drew fan.

Change, unpredictability and surprises were also cited. People love facing the unknown, not knowing what to expect from day to day, but coming out on top.

Many love to learn. They felt their position gave them a chance to broaden their knowledge and ask questions.

Wow moments also foster love – those occasions when you complete a project or champion an idea and see the impact on your company and industry. You love the firm for believing in you and letting you take the initiative.

However, negative feedback was frequent.

Some confessed they loved the day the boss was away (‘because he’s crazy and impossible to work with’). Others said they simply loved going home, and many said ‘Friday’ and a weekend away from work.

So, what can we learn about love for the job and the chance to get the best out of your loved ones?

Firstly, small things matter. Colleague interaction and socialising are important.

Secondly, create a sense of purpose. People need to see the bigger picture and have a role in the wider scheme of things.

In addition, change the routine when you can. Same old, same old is boring. People love change and challenge. Some even love occasional chaos for the thrill of conquering it.

Building learning and development into the job also helps.

It’s worth the effort. When people love their job, you’ll love the results.

*Michelle Moss is a Director at Signium Africa (previously Talent Africa), a leading South African-based executive search and talent management company servicing sub-Saharan Africa.

Tel: +27 11 771 4800