Feel good, work better!

You may be familiar with the Best Companies to Work For list The Sunday Times puts out every year. They’ve been running this for over ten years now, and the awards are highly sought after.  So what makes people vote for the companies they work for? A lot of reasons, I suppose (besides the obvious ‘vote for me or I’ll fire you!’).

One reason that struck a chord was put forward by the VP of the Great Place to Work Institute in the US.  During a presentation, Michael Burchell followed up the question, ‘What is the difference between a good place and a great place to work?’ with this sentence: ‘It’s not about what you do, but how you do it.’  A simple statement, but there’s a lot of truth in it, isn’t there?

I really believe in that.  We all spend enough of our time working, so why not make it as bearable and pleasant for everyone as possible? You may have the most stressful or the most boring job imaginable, but the key to surviving and prospering in such an environment is in how you work.  Punitive working conditions and a grumpy boss can really make things an uphill slog for employees who, in turn, almost certainly won’t be working at their best productivity.

A recent hot potato is the use of social media in the workplace. Should you ban people from using Facebook at work?  Are they spending time on personal stuff instead of company stuff?  Well, let’s go back to separating the ‘what’ from the ‘how’.  ‘Thou shalt not use the company’s time for private entertainment’ is not a difficult argument to win.

Most reasonable people would accept that if the company is paying them for their time, they should spend it working for the company.  Not posting updates to friends about booking their next holiday.But still, rightly or wrongly, employees can get demotivated if management issues a blanket ban on Facebook.  Far better for management to enter into reasonable dialogue and agree a policy, thus ensuring that rules will actually be followed.  Why is this important?

Cast your eye over positions vacant pages and what’s the most common quality employers look for?  Humour.  Why?  Because just about every employer knows it’s not just desirable to have a sense of perspective in the workplace, it’s actually fairly essential to the engendering of harmonious relationships.

Sadly I think there’s still a general perception that if you see someone having fun at work, that person is somehow slacking off. But why?  Isn’t it possible to have fun at the same time as you’re working?  By this I don’t mean putting on a clown mask in the boardroom or prank-calling the company CEO (though that was funny).  I’m talking more about the kind of good-natured, positive – even light-hearted – interaction that comes when workmates respect and like each other.  This creates a ‘feel-good’ effect which can which actually increase productivity.

So lighten up people! When you’re happier together you’re bound to get a lot more done.  It’s simple really: Feel good, work better.

But enough of all this. I can’t stay around chatting – its lunch time and I have to get revenge on a colleague by filling his office full of empty boxes.


On April 10, 2012, posted in: Front Page, Our Blog by
One Response to “Feel good, work better!”
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