Happy Employees Talk. To Each Other.
By now you’ve heard that the happiest, most engaged employees often have a best friend – or many best friends – at work. Since you want happier, more engaged, more productive employees you want to get a jumpstart on this whole employee friending thing. Don’t play corporate matchmaker just yet.
- It’s not an executive’s responsibility to arrange friendships at work, like the busy body aunt who obsessively sets up blind dates with women for her gay nephew. Like that aunt, you too can get it wrong. That’s just awkward.
- Consider that friendships happen organically and rarely amount to more than acquaintances when manipulatively selected by others.
Is this just another set of facts that came from a series of workplace studies that simply leaves you disempowered to do anything? Not at all.
Although you may not be able to choose your employees’ friends for them or meddle in the process to speed them up to best friend status, you can facilitate a culture that is conducive for cultivating better friendships. Then let nature – human nature that is – do its thing. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Allow Reasonable Conversation Time
If you’ve been bred to believe that talking is synonymous with slacking, it’s time to consider a more accurate equation. Employees + Conversation = Bonding. It’s difficult to bond without some non-work-related talk. Cutting off the convo may be the thing that prevents best friendships from forming in the workplace. All that potential future happiness and productivity down the drain!
Create Cross Team Collaboration
As projects in need of collaboration come into the queue, consider choosing people with complementary skillsets despite their department. This isn’t for the purpose of matchmaking, bur for creating new teams for specific projects based on the value each individual can bring to the table. A nice side benefit may be that employees create bonds with others in multiple departments. More friends increases the likelihood of eventually establishing a best friend in the mix.
Make Employees Talk to Each Other, Instead of You
Happy employees do talk to each other. However, company policies and individual managers often forbid them to. Not via overt gag orders, but a pervading cultural M.O. that doesn’t allow relationship skills to build.
Do you allow employees to vent to you about their teammates without suggesting they first attempt to resolve the matter themselves? Does your company have a go to your supervisor first approach for handling non-violent conflicts? If so, you are depriving your team the opportunity to build potentially strong relationships in the midst of temporary adversity. The reality is that it’s much easier to hate one that you never have to face. When employees are encouraged to resolve minor grievances without management intervention, great workplace relationships are often created.
On the flipside, unnecessary management arbitration amongst peers increases negativity. Each time a decision is handed down from the manager, a winner and a loser are created. The loser has negative emotions because she lost and will likely feel resentment for a while. The winner has a temporary feeling of victory, a reward which will only encourage him to find more things about her to bitch about later. This is a recipe for creating a chronic critiquer.
Encourage Multiple Forms of Communication
There are more ways for employees to communicate than merely talking.
Happster, a workplace happiness app is designed to encourage employee relationship building and foster well-being in a few different ways.
- Feedback. Employees can create suggestions for the workplace, while other teammates can comment and expand upon those ideas.
- Heros. Team members can give a shout out to a workplace “hero” and recognize them for their exemplary work ethic, or a significant accomplishment that may otherwise get overlooked in a busy, fast paced workplace
- Qhub. Employees can help each other out by answering questions or providing resources for their co-workers.
We hope you will use the above suggestions as part of your overall plan for facilitating a culture where friendships flourish, and workplace happiness, employee engagement and productivity run hand in hand.
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