In 1943 an intellectual bomb in the form of Maslow’s seminal paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation” exploded on the psychology community. Within the paper, Maslow unpacks a hierarchy of needs that all humans need to quench in order to discover a heightened sense of wellbeing. To be a happy, contributing member of society, each level of the pyramid must be fulfilled. However, Maslow posited that if one segment of the pyramid isn’t sated, a human may not be able move onto the next level.
In the middle of the pyramid we find human’s ever-elusive need for love. To Maslow, romantic love was such a crucial step towards self-actualization that if one’s need for love had not been sated, they would stagnate in the middle of this motivational pyramid.
To be fair, perhaps we’re all capable of having feelings of self-worth and happiness without romantic love in our lives. Perhaps Maslow was just a hopeless romantic who never received enough swipes right. But hopeless romantic or not, Maslow was right in that being in love has the power to unlock hidden potential. As research shows, romantic love can prolong life, create a healthier heart and lungs, decrease stress, boost creativity, and contribute to overall happiness. I’m no doctor, and yes perhaps I’ve read one to many Nicolas Sparks books, but to-date, love is the closest thing to a panacea that we have.
Sadly, many people in the United States live without it.
In San Francisco (Bay Area), where I reside, it’s an even larger issue. The city that was once the epicenter of love has gone through a fairly drastic transition. In finding its new identity it welcomed in some of the greatest tech minds the world has ever seen, but in doing so lost its loving way. Peter Thiel, founder of Paypal said in reference to the Bay Area that, “people there don’t have much sex.” But that’s not the most flaccid sound bite to come out of Silicon Valley. An anonymous tech-founder living in America’s most romantically frustrated region was quoted as saying:
“I have higher confidence in making another million dollars than I do in finding a spouse.” –Anonymous Tech Millionaire
But Silicon Valley is a region that values facts, not anecdotal evidence. With that in mind let me put forth a few facts that will make any Silicon Valley resident callous their thumb in the hope of finding the one.
According to Census Bureau data, the male-to-female ratio for young and employed singles in the Silicon Valley is approximately 150 men for every 100 women. This number means that considering most residents are heterosexual, there simply aren’t enough matches to go around. Unless another sexual revolution takes place that turns residents into pansexual polyamorous techies, there will continue to be thousands of lonely Silicon Valley souls swiping into the algorithmic abyss.
From the data, we can infer that the shortage in women creates a dating paradise for females. But here is a classic case of misleading information. Simply because there are vastly more eligible men than women doesn’t translate to romantic love. A medley of an inundation of choices, the desire to climb the professional ladder, and an abundance of awkward dudes has created a vibrant hookup culture, but not much else.
The Bay Area is a place where techies from across the globe come to create something disruptive, not to fall in love. With the emphasis on professional accomplishment, love often gets overlooked. But, there might be hope on the horizon.
To articulate this hope let’s bring the ghosted Maslow back into the conversation. Tech giants –like SF tech men- realize that there’s a dearth of quality talent. So to attract this talent, not only do they offer generous salaries but also amazing perks in the form of wellness programs. Realizing that their employees are valued assets, tech giants offer wellness programs that attempt to address Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. But in their attempt to woo precocious coders, they’ve missed the heartbeat of the pyramid, romantic love.
The Goal Of Any Wellness Program
The initial goal of a wellness program is to act as an appetizing perk that will convince a potential worker to hook up with one company instead of the other. Once the employee has signed on, the purpose of the wellness program is to increase productivity, limit sick days and absentees, decrease turnover, improve interpersonal relationships, and generate a better overall work environment.
So tell me. Would a couple hours a week spent with a dating or relationship coach improve any of these areas?
It turns out that love has a number of benefits apart from turning your life into an animated Disney movie. Being in a loving romantic relationship is known to decrease doctor’s visits, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and the common cold. With confidence on the rise and interpersonal skills heightened with the help of dating training, the office would no doubt see an increase in productivity.
It Would Fit Right In
I get it. A wellness program centered around dating sounds a bit out there. But so did the idea of giving new employees $10,000 to customize their office as they deem fit. A $10,000 allowance along with yoga, meditation, self-healing courses and treadmills with a view are just some of the perks that Asana now offers.
Wellness programs can generally be placed into three categories: physical, nutritional, and interpersonal/emotional wellbeing. The following are some of the most popular wellness programs among major Silicon Valley companies.
- Tough Mudder Group Training
- Personal Training
- Cycling Classes
- Flu Shot Clinics
- Organic Food
- Free Smoothies
- Access To A Dietitian
- Meditation Classes
- Deep-breathing Exercises
- Team Outings
- Book Clubs
Under the interpersonal and emotional category it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to include sessions with a dating coach as a wellness program.
Silicon Valley companies never stop. From start-ups to established tech companies, employers demand results. This is why the brightest minds in the nation are offered free food and massages anytime they want. But even the nicest backrub won’t result in a marked increase in productivity.
It turns out that happy employees are 12% more productive than discontented employees. The tech industry has long ago realized that productivity isn’t always tied to monetary incentive. To get a worker to increase their rate of productivity for menial tasks all you need to do is dangle another $5 in front of them. But for complex tasks such as developing state of the art AI technology, employees must be motivated in other ways.
A study performed by economists at the University of Warwick found that there’s causation between happiness and productivity. Should a worker feel unhappy, their productivity dips by 10%. One of the professors that spearheaded the study was noted as saying that companies that invest in the happiness of their employees experienced an increase in production. After a series of initiatives targeting employee happiness were put into place, employment satisfaction at Google rose by 37%.
There are a few verified ways to increase employee happiness. One is by meditating for a couple minutes every day followed by reflecting on things that one feels grateful for. Harvard researchers Phil Stone and Tal Ben-Shahar also found that students with a strong social support system both in the classroom and at home were notably happier than those bereft of such social satisfaction. While communities may form within the workplace, once employees leave, they are left to fend for themselves. Recommending an off-site “virtual” dating coach will enrich the employee’s wellbeing both in and outside of the office.
What About Emotional Intelligence?
The Silicon Valley is swarming with brilliant tech minds, each ready to pitch the newest Google to investors. Though what residents have in brainpower, they seem to lack in emotional intelligence. Clearly the stereotype that everyone that works in the tech industry is socially inept is way overblown. Though you would be hard-pressed to find an abundance of socially suave workers roaming the halls of Facebook and Oracle.
To be clear, emotional intelligence is about identifying and managing one’s own emotions along with the emotions of others. To possess a high level of emotional intelligence, someone must be emotionally aware of their emotions and have the capacity to manage those emotions and use them to complete complex tasks pertinent to communication. An emotionally competent person will demonstrate empathy and know how to employ the necessary tact to handle delicate situations.
The best coding skills can only get you so far if you don’t know how to talk to people. The World Economic Forum ranked emotional intelligence as the sixth most important skill that an employee needs in order to excel in the workplace. And it turns out that while we’d like to think that we’re all being graded on the quality of our work alone, about 71% of hiring managers according to a Career Builder survey say that they value emotional intelligence more than IQ.
An employee with high emotional intelligence is well equipped to collaborate in teams, voice their concerns, and manage their motivation. An impactful study conducted by professors Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff and published in the Harvard Business Review, found that the most effective individuals and teams are the ones with the highest emotional intelligence. The research demonstrates that socially intelligent employees are more productive. So how do you go about turning employees with low EQ into employees with a high EQ?
To boost EQ, one must be able to manage the fear of rejection, stay cool under pressure, be able and willing to articulate sensitive feelings, and recover after a defeat. The standard rhythm of life will thrust the average human being into situations where they are forced to generate the aforementioned skills. But there is an even more effective way than simply letting employees develop these skills organically.
A dating coach specializes in improving one’s interpersonal and emotional intelligence. Helping a client find love is the ultimate goal, but to get there a client must first learn how to effectively socialize. Through a series of meetings a dating coach will equip a client with the confidence and know-how they need to become a successful dater. Through dating, an employee will rapidly boost their EQ as they try to read the emotions of a diverse set of personalities, manage rejection, and remain unflappable even in the most awkward of situations. It just so happens that the happy byproduct of developing all these emotional skills is that ultimately your co-worker will find romantic companionship. If ever there was a win-win situation, this is it.
A Poor Love Life Affects Work Life
Not only does a dating coach teach employees how to date better, but also what a healthy relationship looks like. While we’d like to consider ourselves fully capable of not dragging our social lives into work with us, it’s harder than we think. A toxic relationship follows you around like a stalking rain cloud, depressing your capacity to work no matter where you go. A positive relationship on the other hand imbues a worker with vigor and creativity.
Many outlandish ideas have been accepted by Silicon Valley tech companies with open arms. While it may sound odd at first, including a dating coach as part of a wellness program has various benefits.
To learn more about how a dating coach can increase the overall wellbeing of employees, feel free and email me directly at [email protected]