Do you have a best friend at work? It's not a question often asked of professionals, but Gallup once did in a poll designed to see how personal relationships in the workplace affected productivity. Work is a place where most adults spend much of their waking hours, so developing workplace friendships is almost inevitable. Does your company view social interaction among employees as a distraction from the work that needs to be accomplished? The results of the Gallup poll and other studies show that having social ties with coworkers actually increases productivity, employee satisfaction and retention. Gone are the days when the average employee was content to clock-in in the morning, complete the workday, then clock out to go home. Today's professionals, especially millennials, are looking for a career that is also a human experience. They want their work to have meaning. and they want to be part of an office culture where deeper bonds and relationships are formed. Let's explore this.
The Benefits of a Positive Workplace Culture
A Randstad Work Watch survey found that employees who reported having close friendships at work also reported a more positive overall opinion of the workplace culture. Benefits - like a more creative environment, better teamwork, shared knowledge, and better communication - were some of the attributes of a workplace that encouraged social interaction among employees.
Finding talented people to fill key positions is often a challenge. Getting talented people to stay long-term is an even bigger challenge. Employees are people, and people need more than a great salary and benefits package to feel overall satisfaction at work. People are social creatures, and a close social circle at work increases the likelihood that employees won't be as quick to jump ship if another offer comes along. In fact, the Gallup poll found that people with close social bonds at work also reported feeling a stronger sense of loyalty towards their company.
Encouraging Workplace Interaction
So how can you encourage your employees to develop bonds that extend past their professional duties? Try the following to bring your staff together on a deeper level.
1. Facilitate communication. Make it easy for your staff to communicate with each other. If you have the space in your office, create an employee lounge for breaks. If office space is tight, create an online message board or private Facebook group where staff members can post and react.
2. Celebrate! Celebrate successes. Celebrate occasions. Small celebrations of any kind can create lasting impressions of feeling connected to co-workers and the boss. A large hotel in New Jersey has Employee Appreciation Day once a month, every month. An "employee of the month" is selected, and he or she receives a certificate and a gift card, and a special lunch is served to all in staff dining. A general meeting is held to acknowledge the achievements of the month, raffle off prizes, and get the staff all together. Even if you can't pull off something that big, bringing your staff together periodically to celebrate accomplishments can help to encourage a team mentality.
3. Organize social events. Getting together outside of work to socialize is a great way to encourage deeper bonds among employees. Outings like baseball games, barbecues, and holiday parties not only bring your employees together in a social setting, but allows the families to meet. Use the time for a specific and meaningful purpose, such as the United Way Day of Caring or another charitable organization of choice. Having a "paid" day to do good in the community reinforces that the company cares about the places where its employees live AND work.
Fostering deeper relationships among your employees will benefit your company in terms of productivity, and retention. It will also help your staff develop a sense of pride in your company and what they do. Contact us for more ways to improve your workplace culture.