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Feb 14, 2023

On this Valentine’s Day love is all about us.

But wander through any office or pick up any business journal, and it won’t take long to realize that love is missing from many people’s lives – from the jobs.

Take a recent employee survey report. It notes that just 41% of employees love their jobs so much that they’d recommend their employer to others and/or be inspired to give their best effort at work.

But, for all the depressing news about the current state of employee morale, there are employees in your organization who truly do love their jobs.

And because these folks can be incredible role models, culture ambassadors, and future leaders, it’s important to know how to pick them out of a crowd.

Short of someone shouting, “I love what I do,” there are a number of indicators that demonstrate that an employee feels fully invested in their job.

But here are just two big signs that HRDs and managers can typically spot:

Sign #1: Employees feel a sense of daily accomplishment

Try and recall those moments where you have left the office after a hard day’s work but have still felt like you haven’t accomplished anything. If you’ve felt this, you can be pretty sure others will have – and continue to – feel this too.

In fact tens of thousands of workers have participated in the online test “How Do Your Time Management Skills Stack Up?” and the results reveal that more than two-thirds of employees say, “I often leave work wondering, ‘did I actually accomplish anything today?'”

What the results also show, however, are that people are about twice as likely to love their job when they leave the office feeling like they accomplished important work (as opposed to thinking, “I’m not getting anything done lately”).

Sure, we’re all going to have days where it feels like we’re running through mud; when we’re working hard but are making zero progress. But if we’ve got too many of those days in a month, burnout spikes and engagement plummets.

It’s usually easy to spot who amongst your employees feels accomplished.

You can, of course, just ask something innocuous like, “How did today go?” If the answer approximates “good day today” or “accomplished a lot,” then you’ve got someone who’s probably feeling pretty good.

But if their answer is something sarcastic (e.g., “living the dream”) or negative (e.g., “rough day”), then you know their day wasn’t brimming with accomplishments.

One day by itself isn’t a giant red flag, but two or three of those days a week, and you’ll know you’ve got someone who’s at risk of burnout and not loving their job.

Sign #2: Employees keep making suggestions for improvement

Even employees who hate their job will share the problems they see with the workplace.

But only the folks who truly love their job (and believe in the organization), will share problems and then immediately offer viable solutions.

They won’t suggest firing every member of the executive team, but they might say, “What if we required a down payment from new clients before starting the project? This would shorten our cash conversion cycle by nine days and decrease accounts receivables by 15%.”

It takes being deeply invested in a job and company to exert the necessary effort to offer smart improvement ideas. Everyone can gripe, but only deeply committed folks turn complaints into real solutions. The problem is that, according to a Leadership IQ study, only 24% of workers believe their boss consistently promotes and acknowledges suggestions for improvement.

You should know, however, that employees who experience their leader as always encouraging and recognizing suggestions are a remarkable 12 times more likely to recommend the company as a great employer.

For leaders and HRDs, ask yourself this: “How often are employees offering good suggestions for improvement?”

If a frontline manager goes months without hearing a great idea, there’s a problem. For when employees aren’t offering new ideas or suggestions for improvement, it’s not because your operations are already perfect.

Based on what we know from a leadership styles test, a whopping 50% of people want a leader that encourages significant growth, but only about 9% of leaders actually employ that style.

The reality is that you’ve likely got lots of people who want to help the company improve, and the ones who are willing to fight through all the impediments to share their ideas likely really love their jobs.

One final note:

It takes a little bit of effort to spot the people who truly love their jobs.

But if you’re willing to exert that effort, you’re virtually assured of performing the leadership activities that will cause even more people to love their jobs.

It’s a fun quirk of employee engagement that the organizations that care the most about measuring how their employees feel are also the ones most likely to have lots of employees love their jobs.