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As we wrap up February and the month of love, we’re seeing the word ‘love’ emerge everywhere, even in workplace contexts, and no, we’re not talking about dating!

Historically, you didn’t often hear love and workplace in the same sentence; but, as the pandemic continues its impact, we’re seeing articles with ‘love vocabulary’ pop up in such business publications as Forbes, HBR, McKinsey and Fast Company, among others. Korn-Ferry’s just-released Future of Work Trends 2022: A New Era of Humanity gets right to the point:  

2022 will see the big shift from “me” to “we” … Some don’t go so far as to use the word “love”, but their actions and recommendations show love.”

Love in the Workplace is a trend we didn’t really see coming, but it is something that excites us and aligns with our approach over the past several years. Compassion, appreciation, respect, kindness and, yes, LOVE, are ingredients employees are so hungry for and, we believe, are essential ingredients to our passage through constant waves of disruption.

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

There’s a noticeable shift in organizational narratives. The onset of the pandemic brought with it tremendous impact on families and employee mental and physical health, spurring the need for remote work and new childcare options.  The resulting sense of uncertainty, isolation and depression for so many is necessitating greater emphasis on employee health and well-being, more flexible policies, benefits and salary increases to encourage staff retention. Job stressors have increased to the point that organizations have had to step in, where in the past, many of these issues were considered personal or family concerns outside the purview of colleagues and leaders.

That accepted and relied-upon separation between work and ‘life’ is disappearing, and as it evaporates, organizations are called on to extend more empathy, flexibility and caring to their organizational families.  Leaders find themselves at the center of creating stronger employee connections, bonds, and a deeper sense of partnership that extends past job descriptions. According to some of the leaders we work with, it can feel like Emotional Intelligence work on steroids.

Is It Love?  Is It a Megatrend?

So, how are we defining love as it’s being talked about in the workplace, way out beyond ‘romantic love’? What are its particular businesslike attributes?

In a fun Colleen Reilly article last year for Forbes on love, she quoted others who are providing a vocabulary for business’s greater role and responsibility in individual, organizational and community resilience:

The authors emphasized the importance and power that businesses have to create a better world in which people live lives full of purpose, love, and creativity — a world of compassion, freedom, and prosperity.  Yes, they said love.

Well, it’s definitely a big shift, a continually developing trend and a major global influencer, we believe. Sounds like a megatrend to us—love is in the air and in the workplace! We’re using our best telescopes to ‘squint’ into the future and see where and how love shows up. Stay tuned.

A Question for You

What do you say about the arrival of love in the workplace?

Wendy B. White is co-founder and partner with Continuum Consulting Services. She recently launched “Let’s Choose Love,” a social movement that provides a forum for sharing ideas, resources, new philosophies and stories that she hopes will challenge, stretch and inspire us to expand our thinking and possibilities for the future.

Sallie Lee is a consultant with Continuum. She has served as a thinking partner, strategist and facilitator for a global client base.