Good business is not a quiet thing. It hums. Healthy banter between colleagues is a sign that your workplace has a balanced culture - of productivity, friendliness and candour. It’s a place where employees share, float ideas and contribute. And it has a natural energy all of its own – generated by motivated people working together.
Historically, this type of banter happened in the nooks and crannies of our office spaces - between partitions, over the water coolers. But as workplace design has evolved, the engagement we now experience with our colleagues hasn’t necessarily kept up.
Sadly, the statistics say that meaningful engagement isn’t happening as often as it should. Only a few organisations truly know how to connect employees and create great environments that balance productivity, natural energy, motivation.
Getting along and liking each other seems to have become a really tricky business.
STATS OF ENGAGEMENT
Gallup research shows that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs. – they’re interested in working for you and they love your brand. The other 87% are not engaged. At worst, they’re completely indifferent. Quiet, inattentive and highly likely to move to another brand that they perceive will offer them more.
Gallup tells us it’s difficult to create environments where people can connect with each other, understand your brand and engage beyond set tasks.
Although our clever-selves might intuitively know that employee engagement is what drives real business outcomes, it’s clear that even the big guns are struggling to do this well.
At #HR we know that engagement is unique to every business. What may work for one may not work for another. It’s about doing many things in the right way and at the right time.
Stay with us over the next few weeks as we roll out posts which tackle the basics – and get your people and your business really, authentically engaged.
LET’S BE FRIENDLY
Let’s not brush over the simple things.
Mark Horstman, co-founder of Manager Tools and author of The Effective Manager writes about being friendly. There is, he says, a distinction between being friendly and being friends.
Friendly behaviour involves smiling, giving encouragement, conversing and laughing. ‘They are things that are appreciated, respected and often admired by those who struggle to get along well and easily with others.’
Friendly behaviour is not about building a sense of obligation or favouratism.
Friendliness requires neither agreement nor approval and is rarely offensive if it is authentic. Best of all, most have learnt this skill well before they have met you. So friendliness is something you need only role model, rather than teach.
‘Don’t wait for people to be friendly, show them how.’ Wise words, if anonymous.
Horstman has a really neat set of rules rules for friendliness with staff:
- You can’t be friends with anyone you employ;
- You can be friendly to everyone you employ;
- You can’t be friendly to some without being friendly to all. Be consistent.
Once you benchmark these behaviours and begin to use them, they build the kind of engagement that really makes your workplace stand out from the crowd.
For those who need more convincing, it turns out that kindness is fuel for our brains. Judith Glaser, the CEO of Benchmark Communications explains its benefits through neuroscience. 'When someone is kind and respectful to us,' she says, 'our brains produce more oxytocin and dopamine, which helps us relax, feel open to others, and be more sharing and cooperative.'
Friendliness is just one element of employee engagement. Yet it plays a big part in how well your staff get along with each other - and a pivotal role in office dynamics and productivity.
‘Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.’ So says Richard Branson. We’re with him. Let’s get friendly.