Eric P. Bloom: Friendships in the workplace can increase morale
Eric P. Bloom GHNS
I’d like to tell you a story about a person I know who recently retired from a local school system after working there for many years. During her last week of work, she received many very wonderful and thoughtful gifts from the parents of her students, her colleagues and the school leadership. I would like to tell you about one particular present she received. A colleague gave her a small orchid plant and a whoopee pie. For those not familiar with whoopee pies, they consist of two pieces of cookie-shaped cake separated by a creamy filling. From a distance, it somewhat looks like a very large Oreo cookie. The reason that this weird combination was such a wonderful present is because orchids are her favorite flower and whoopee pies are her favorite dessert.
The reason that I’m telling you this story is because as a manager you should strive to:
Understand your staff’s likes and dislikes.
Foster strong relationships between the members of your staff.
The reason for you to understand your staff’s likes and dislikes isn’t just so you can buy them thoughtful gifts when they leave, it’s to maximize their efficiency and build their loyalty while on the job. If not for retirement, this person would have happily continued to work at that school for many years to come. As a manager, you are given the opportunity to have a direct positive effect on people’s lives. Within certain bounds, you can assign tasks to your team members based on their personal interests and future goals. Also, to a lesser extent, you can provide assistance and/or support to people’s lives in general. To do this, however, you must first know and care about their wants, needs, interests and professional aspirations.
Regarding the second point mentioned above, working to foster a strong relationship among the people on your team is one of the most significant things you can do to maximize job satisfaction and minimize employee attrition. Study after study has shown that having friends at your place of work can significantly increase your morale and job satisfaction. For example, a Gallup research poll showed that having close friendships at work can boost employee satisfaction by almost 50 percent.
As the manager, things you can do to help foster the relationship of those on your team include the following:
Have a small cake to celebrate people’s birthdays.
During staff meetings ask if anyone has any special family events coming up, such as a wedding or child’s school graduation.
Every couple of months have an employee lunch. Based on your budget, you could bring in pizza or do a pot luck dinner where everyone brings in their favorite food.