Socializing at Work isn't the Productivity Killer or Time-Waster Employers of Yesteryear Feared
You might have seen these new help-wanted ads from McDonald's lately, imploring friend-sets to apply together: https://www.thedrum.com/creative-works/project/cossette-mcdonalds-canada-friends-wanted
Why would McDonald's want to incentivize teenagers who are already friends to apply and work together? Wouldn't this just serve to make the workplace an excuse to socialize, waste time, ignore customers, and decrease productivity, ultimately?
Well, NO, not according to all the latest research.
In fact, McDonald's is doing something very intelligent with this talent strategy: proactively creating a workplace that has been shown to increase employee satisfaction rates, productivity, and retention. Contrary to the hard-driving industrial-era sensibilities that advocates for 'all work and no play' among employees, contemporary studies show that people who have or make friends at work - indeed, the ones who 'socialize' - are more likely to stay longer, work harder, be more committed to the organization, and complete their work in a better humor, thereby increasing (not decreasing) overall productivity and customer satisfaction levels.
Why does this counter-intuitive approach work?
Well, as I have often demonstrated on stage and in other videos/posts - the human subconscious (likely 99.9% of all neural processing) is now thought to be approximately 80% comprised of networks that are involved with SOCIAL processing. In other words, social events, stimuli, interactions and consequences rule our motivation and decision-making. Almost nowhere is the social environment more rich and consequential to us than in the workplace - at work.
In order to initiate and influence our motivational and decision-making networks, employers would be well-advised to facilitate our social lives at work: host social events, have more team-building days, encourage people to go out together after work, create a circumstance where 'work friends' become 'real friends': all the research shows these would be dollars well-spent - those employees become more connected, embedded, committed, satisfied, and, yes - productive.
- Having a hard time motivating someone at work? Find them a friend...or 8.
- Having friction or a hard time communicating with someone at work? Do what you can to actually befriend them (even if at first you don't want to).
Because we feel more 'psychological safety' with people we classify as 'friends', and because we enjoy and trust people we classify as friends more than those we do not, having/creating friends at work actually increases one's willingness to take risks, work harder, 'bend over backwards' for the organization or customer, stay longer, put in our best...all while effectively actually 'enjoying' our labors.
So this week, activate your social subconscious, increase your psychological safety and decrease uncertainty and threat at work - socialize freely and actively make new friends. You will feel happier, safer, more productive, and much more motivated!
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