How liking your job can make everything better
You’ll have doubtless heard the phrase “It’s not work when you’re doing something you love.” And it makes sense doesn’t it? Don’t you wish that you could make a living doing something you love, whether that’s making music, or painting, or something like playing table tennis? Of course most people can’t make a living from their hobbies, but it’s absolutely possible to love your job in a similar way.
The modern Western view is that your ideal job is one that you love, and when you look at the research, loving your job is positively correlated with things like job satisfaction and engagement (Bygrave, 2011). And this means that people who love their job are likely to have higher levels of Happiness at Work.
But what does it actually mean to love your job? Can we work out how loving your job helps you?
We have a primary model for understanding love for one’s job, which was put together by Kelloway et al in 2010, and is based on Sternberg’s 1986 “triangular” theory of love. This theory says that your love for something is made up of three components: passion, commitment, and connectedness. Kelloway’s work then translates these components into the work environment to describe what helps you to love your job.
Passion for your work relates to how absorbed you can get in your work tasks. It’s similar to things like job involvement (Brown, 1996) and engagement (Bakker & Demerouti, 2008). However, it actually goes further and includes positive emotional and attitudinal components, creating what Kelloway et al refer to as a “longing for one’s work”. This makes sense to us: how often do you dread doing something you love? Professional musicians are great examples of this: they often talk about getting lost in the music. If you have passion for something you love, everything else slips away.
As described by Meyer & Allen (1997), Commitment represents how much you wish to stay with a particular organization, or remain within your chosen profession. If you think you have a variety of professional options but, despite that, you want to stay at your current organization, this often stems from a high level of commitment. Lowers levels of positive commitment often flow from a lack of alternatives, or a sense of obligation to stay at your current organization. It’s hard to love something you feel you have to do.
Kelloway et al note that although both commitment and passion involve becoming emotionally attached to your job, the elements that make this happen are different. For example, you can have a “longing” for your work but not feel a commitment to your specific organization: without both, you’re unlikely to truly love your job.
Connectedness refers to relationships at work, especially those which are founded in trust and provide a support network (Kelloway et al, 2010). Kram & Isabella (1985) found that these relationships facilitate emotional support, feedback and friendship at work. Good relationships in the workplace help buffer stress, and so help you to get through tough times.
It boils down to this: if you have a strong sense of connectedness then you are likely to experience a range of positive outcomes. For example, good interpersonal relationships are often found in organizations with a fair culture. And this holds true regardless of your levels of job satisfaction and engagement (Bygrave, 2011). Whether these are high or low, you get real benefits from having good relationships at work.
Our research also shows some interesting things when it comes to the relationships you have with your colleagues at work. People who like their colleagues the most take an average of 1.5 days off a year, whereas the people who least like their colleagues take 6. That’s almost a week’s difference.
The three components of passion, commitment and connectedness fit into the larger construct of loving one’s job, something which is largely stable over time (Pitfield, 2011). And that makes sense: loving one’s job isn’t just a moment of pleasure at completing a task you enjoy; it’s about feeling something deeper within it. When the thing you love about your job is a basic part of it, you’re unlikely to change your mind quickly – it’ll be a stable and consistent feeling.
What do we know?
At iOpener Institute, we think that Happiness at Work is made up of both loving your job, and being interested in your job (something we looked at a couple of weeks ago). They are related, but different: loving your job is connected to the feeling of fit with your work, what we call Culture.
This shows how interconnected Happiness at Work is. As you see in our model, Happiness at Work involves a lot of elements which are all connected to one another. So when one element is flourishing, it’s likely to be influencing other parts. And likewise, if an element is poor, then the other components will be affected by it.
Think of what we’ve already looked at: if your workplace has an unfair culture, then it’s possible that you might not have a great relationship with your colleagues. And this makes it less likely that you’ll love your job. Each of the elements in our model affects Happiness at Work on their own, but they also impact each other.
Do you love your job? If you don’t, do you know what you might need to change for you to be able to love it? Get in touch with us if there’s anything you’d like to talk about – we’re always happy to chat.