By Nathan Alemany, Head of Marketing, 2018 International Business Festival

Metrics, spreadsheets, data and targets. The world of business can sometimes feel cold, analytical and oppressive. But not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.

The biggest challenge in business today is that love and business rarely meet. They’ve fallen out and they purposefully keep missing each other.

We've turned business into science. It can be researched, modelled, reported and quantified to death. But business is a lot more than a dashboard of performance or a glossy, hard-copy business plan.

People make business happen and people are emotional, passionate, complex and romantic – yes romantic beasts. So much of what makes business exciting is nebulous, fleeting and totally undefinable. If we had to pick the most vital thing a successful business needs, we’d choose love.

Love isn’t fashionable in business, it probably won’t make it to your list of KPIs and yes, it can sound a bit cringy and overly sentimental, but there is a place for love in business and it should be a central one, the beating heart from which everything flows.

We want to bring business and love back together and we’ve hatched a plan, but we need your help. A business without love is a body without a soul. It values money over people, reputation over personal growth and politics above friendships.

A loveless business is Gordon Gecko going in for the kill, or Miranda Priestly frostily dismissing a dedicated intern.

But with a bit of love business could be a warm hug from George Clooney or a brilliant smile from Jennifer Lawrence.

Now we know what you’re thinking, business is about making money, right? Well, yes, money is part of it, but there’s much more than cold hard cash to be made from love. Research shows that compassion and kindness in business has a huge impact on an organisation’s culture, employee engagement and general feeling of happiness.

The University of Michigan’s leading professor of business and psychology, Jane Dutton, researched the connection between love and business with some interesting, but not remotely surprising results. Here’s what she had to say:

“We found that employees who experienced compassion at work saw themselves, their co-workers and the organisation in a much positive light. Statistically, they demonstrated more positive emotions such as joy and contentment and more commitment towards the organisation. These results were consistent regardless of whether employees receive compassion or merely witnessed it.”

Now, here’s the thing. Not everyone knows how to love and that goes double for business. Businesses typically struggle with the concept, preferring to see people as potential sales and employees as terribly busy worker bees, with targets galore, ever-long to-do lists and very little time.

This kind of culture can lead people down a dangerous path, reaching for their tenth coffee, hitting the bar for doubles after work, or furiously peddling on the spot, in a gruelling spinning class, desperately getting a fix of those feel-good endorphins, which they never get from work.

This is the plan and it’s where you come in. We want you to think about your business or workplace and really ask yourself this: Where is the love?

Take some time to really appreciate people. They’re more than their professions and they can bring more to the table than just their jobs. Slow down and stop running from meeting to meeting. You’ll never really connect with people if you’re always going one hundred miles an hour.

Do more of what you enjoy in work, chances are that’s the bit that you’re really good at anyway. Be more positive about yourself and others. Every person in a company, big or small, has the power to transform the workplace culture for the better. When love is in the air, it’s catching and it’s exactly what the world of business and the world in general needs today.

Show a little love to your customers, colleagues and employees beyond Valentine’s Day this year, because it's love, not money, makes the world go round and it’s great for business.

Go on, spread the love. xxx