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Article: Are Your Employees Goofing Off Or Building Better A Better Team? Related Resources
Are Your Employees Goofing Off Or Building Better A Better Team?
by Pat Healey

When you come across two of your employees chatting about personal matters, do they look sheepish and quickly scatter, certain that you'd disapprove of how they're wasting company time? Do you, in fact, become irritated and try and dream up ways to squeeze higher productivity out of your team? Well guess what? That attitude may be diminishing productivity, adding to employee stress, creating an unpleasant office culture and contributing to health problems for your staff. Heresy? Stay with me long enough to consider a new viewpoint.

According to extensive research by The Gallup Organization, a mere 29% of employees are actively engaged in their jobs. A whopping 71% are either just warming your chairs or are actively seeking a better place to work. That's a human resource crisis that will cripple your business if you don't take proactive measures to reverse the trend. One of the easiest, cost-free ideas is to rethink your position about what constitutes wasting time.

In Vital Friends, a recent book from Gallup Press, author Tom Rath states that workers who have best friends at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. If they have at least three close friends at work, they'll be 96% more likely to be satisfied with their lives. When you think about it, it makes sense that the place where we spend the majority of our waking hours would also be the source for some of our closest friends. And nothing bonds a group of co-workers faster than feeling disgruntled about management. So what's an overworked, stressed out boss to do--just sit by and watch while his staff yuks it up in the break room? No. Join in.

That's right. Studies also show that workers want meaningful, communicative relationships with management, too. By stopping to join in a conversation--or initiating one--you demonstrate that social relationships are encouraged in your office, not penalized. But that's just the beginning. To really let your staff know you're pro-friendship, here are some things you can do:

* Make sure there is a space for employees to gather in.
* Ask your team what they need and want in the space--kitchen, exercise equipment, conference table, couches, perhaps a dartboard?
* Allow time before meetings for some sharing about positive personal news.
* Facilitate friends working on projects together--they will be happier and more productive.
* Encourage employees to personalize their workspaces and incorporate things from their personal lives. Seeing a co-worker's poodle pix can lead to after-work dog walks and more bonding. Moms hand out tips to one another. Skiers find each other.
* Start some fun traditions. Maybe after completing a big project, you throw a catered lunch for everyone. Or perhaps you pass out bags of fresh popcorn on Friday afternoons. How about lunchtime Jeopardy with the answers/questions based on facts about your company and industry?
* Plan regular group outings--think way beyond your Dad's company picnic. Go rafting or rock climbing or anything that promotes teamwork and camaraderie. Take on a community service assignment together. Have at least one event each year where families are welcomed.

Remember--a worker who does NOT have a best friend at work has only a one in twelve chance of being engaged in your business. How do you like those odds? Unless you're a reckless gambler, you see the value of fostering solid friendships in your workplace. For more ways to nurture intra-office pals, download my list of How To Have More Fun At Work, an excerpt from my book, Finding Joy In Your Job.

Pat Healey is a business owner, the author of Finding Joy In Your Job and a frequent speaker and workshop presenter. Learn more and download his free Personal Values Worksheet you can give to your team at: .

Pat Healey may be contacted at or


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