Labour of Love!

IKEA, cake mixes, create your own shoe by Converse – all of them hit on this universal law long before HR professionals started waking up to it. (I may be a little biased but I think most marketing people capitalize on behavioral economics way before HR catches on). What was this earth shattering, reforming realization? People tend to love the things they create!

Pieces of furniture become instantly more valuable once you have invested a good amount of time putting them together. Shoes that may be considered ugly by many become dear because you customized them. Cake mixes started selling more once the ‘chefs’ invested a little more effort in baking the cakes. The evidence is everywhere. Creators value their creations more than those who have not.

There are of course a few caveats that follow –

  • The effort has to result in a creation; a finished product.
  • There is a sweet spot between investing too much effort and satisfaction from creation. A right balance is extremely important. Get them to invest more effort than the balance, your formula might just fail.

So the question arises – how do we use this in our day to day work?

Our employees are creating, laboring over something or the other every single day. Make it big enough and they will love what they do. Acknowledge it, appreciate it and add a little meaning to the work – you get the perfect mixture for a motivated employee.

There are multiple ways to capitalize on this fact. I’ll give an example of what ThoughtWorks did to get their employees to love their workplace. This organization was moving workspace and they got the ThoughtWorkers involved in designing the new office space. They held a voting campaign on what they would like to name the conference rooms, they asked people what they will like to be included in the workspace and so on. Needless to say, not all ideas was incorporated but a lot of them were. If someone said include lamps, there was one lamp hanging in one part of the office that said, “Hey! We did look at your suggestion!”

Now I may have exaggerated part of the design process but I’d like to believe this is what ThoughtWorks did. From what I hear, their employees believe that they created the workspace and hence the love for the office is much more. Their earlier office was good too, but I never heard similar reviews about that space from their employees.

Did they know about the labour of love before they carried out the exercise? I don’t know; but now that we know this, it’s time to rack our brains on how to use it.

I’m going to think of 3 ways I can use this little fact in my workplace today. How about you?

P.S.: Post courtesy wakeup call by Dan Ariely’s course. Forgive me if I rave about it too much 🙂


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