Many of us consider ourselves well versed in understanding how to invest financial capital. But where would we start to invest if we were to focus that same attention on human capital, on people?
First of all, we want to keep our employees alive and healthy. So let’s first consider the single factor affecting your employees’ mortality that
- Has twice the impact of being obese
- Is worse than being an alcoholic
- Is worse than not exercising
and, here’s the kicker,
- Is worse than smoking 15 cigarettes a day.1
That one factor? Lack of social connection. According to the employee engagement experts at the Gallup Organization, this issue of connection is so important that one of 12 questions in their employee engagement survey is “I have a best friend at work.”
How important is that factor in terms of your firm’s bottom line? Let’s consider Gallup’s findings.
Work units in the top 25 percent of employee engagement outperformed their peers in the bottom 25 percent in customer ratings, profitability, and productivity (Sorenson, 2013).
This level of engagement had an astronomical financial impact for one company. In 2002 Molson Coors found that engaged employees are five times less likely to have safety incidents. This translated into a reported saving $1,721,760 in safety incidents. In 2005 Molson Coors found that the performance related costs of lower engagement teams was $2,104,823 more than the number of high-engagement teams. 2
While we usually think in terms of investment in people as offering training, a motivational program, a reward and recognition program, bonuses or gift cards, I’d like to suggest a much more basic place to start.
What if we were to create the kind of company where it’s possible for us to have (and be) a best friend at work?
Here are a few simple suggestions to get you started:
- Be your own best friend. Breathe deeply and drink water.
Really! It must begin at the top of the company. Listen to your own sense of connection to others by monitoring yourself and your own sense of stress, anxiety, and fear. Remember to take deep breaths and take 20-30 seconds to go into a still, contemplative state. Financial planners are taught to offer water as a stress-reliever for anxious clients—so you ought to take a drink also!
- Extend your self-care to everyone you interact with. Share about more than the tasks at hand; share appropriately as you build trust about the F.O.R.D. areas of your life—Family, Occupational aspirations, Recreation and Dreams.
- Be in the present with others. And be available and attentive in listening when interacting with others at work. Look for opportunities to serve them and to help them succeed.
- Use your words! Let people know about the smallest things you appreciate about what they do AND about who they are as people. For those larger mid-sized companies you may want to even want to check into real-time recognition and reward platforms (http://youearnedit.com/) or build your own. YouEarnedIt also offers 50 free ideas to recognize people.
- Build “frientimacy.” Check out Shasta Nelson’s new book Frientimacy to learn the three essential dimensions for developing a deep and rewarding friendship.
What’s one thing you can do to have or be a best friend at work? Let us know how this works for you and your teams. We’d love to share your successes with others!