Learning about the high cost of fear and the immense benefits of love. 

Results Washington supports ongoing research to understand and gain insights into how we can make workplaces — particularly government workplaces — more human. This primary research began with a series of 50 interviews conducted by Renée Smith, Director of Workplace Transformation. We continue to look to expand and add insights into this body of work to understand and explore different aspects of fear and love in the workplace.

Smith states about the beginning of this research: “This started out with curiosity about how people experience fear and love at work. People’s stories are full of insights so I started talking to people informally.  At first, I spoke informally to friends at dinner and people on the bus. I talked to colleagues over coffee. Everyone had a story and wanted to share theirs. My first formal interview was on Valentine's Day 2017.  <3  No kidding. Since then I've gathered more than 50 stories through interviews and research workshops. The content of those stories was analyzed and I discovered five types of fear stories and three types of love stories. Those insights are described in the Key Note Talk: Make Work More Human. They form the core of this work for public servants and state agencies.”

If you are interested in participating in the research as an investigator or as a participant, contact us for more information at renee.smith@gov.wa.gov.


One on one interviews take about an hour and can be in person or over the phone. There are two basic prompts:

1. Share a story about a time when you experienced fear at work. Fear might mean feeling threatened, anxious, terrified, harassed, worried or other similar feelings.

What happened? What did you do? What did others do? How did this impact you? Your work? What did this mean to you?

2. Share a story about a time when you felt loved at work. Love might mean care, acceptance, respect, belonging, trust, or other similar feelings. 

What happened? What did you do? What did others do? How did this impact you? Your work? What did this mean to you?

Fear and love Research workshops

The concept is simple: Gather a diverse group of 6-8 people for one day to share stories of fear and love. Begin by building trust and connection. Create safety and agreements about confidentiality. Then pair participants up and guide them to explore their stories of fear in the morning, and love in the afternoon (because love should be in the afternoon, right?) We listen, value, empathize, and reflect. Then the group discusses insights and so better understands fear and love at work. These insights contribute to the body of knowledge on fear and love at work.

What is clear

Fear at work takes a terrible toll on individuals, teams, organizations, and on families too. Work suffers. Relationships suffer. Health suffers. People withdraw, withhold, and leave. Everyone loses when fear is allowed to fester, or worse, when fear is intentionally used as a management tool. 

Love at work, on the other hand, supports and unleashes human potential. When people feel loved by a leader, by their team, or by an organization, they report being happier, healthier, and more energetic. They want to be at work. They innovate. They create. They take risks, try out new ideas, and discover solutions. They give their all. Customers are satisfied. Teams and organizations flourish. This is the power of love in the workplace.

Share your story of love and fear

The research is ongoing. If you would like to participate, fill out the form below, and you will be contacted to arrange an interview or to schedule participation in a fear and love research workshop. 

Name *