The workplace can easily morph into a jungle where you end up defending yourself from condescending chimpanzees and hostile hyenas. But the Wall Street Journal urges us to bare teeth to fend off predators; and they don’t mean by a threatening snarl—they simply suggest a smile.
“Incivility”, as WSJ calls it, causes the workplace morale to dwindle. A whopping 96 percent of workers have experienced mean behavior, also known as workplace hostility. That waking-up-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-bed mood can spread like a virus, decreasing productivity and creativity, which is something that comes at a great expense to employers—an $8.3 million expense. ” That figure takes into account turnover, employees’ weakened commitment to the company and work time that was lost to worrying about future bad behavior,” WSJ adds.
In fact, according to a July survey, more than a quarter of respondents quit their job due to hostilities at the workplace. Employers, realizing the hefty costs of belligerence, are honing in on ways to pacify a catty environment. For example, at the National Security Agency, employers encourage employees to pay their co-workers a compliment—something that can easily uplift one’s day. “Employees who did good deeds were honored as “civility stars,” rewarded with plaques and, in one instance, extra time off—all in the name of increased cordiality among colleagues,” WSJ said.
Dish Network, notorious for having the most unpleased employees, are also finding methods to boost workplace friendliness. At one Denver-based office, the satellite company provided their employees with concert tickets for the summer and has been more lenient on their attendance policy. For example, workers don’t need to clock in by scanning their fingerprints anymore and if they must leave to pick up a preschool child, managers now allow them to do so.
“I wanted it to be a more fun place to work,” said Joseph Clayton, chief executive of Dish. “I think people have a responsibility to treat everybody else the way they want to be treated.”
Southwest Airlines takes it one step further and has devoted a whole department to cheer up their employees. Where co-workers sometimes neglect to courteously support their colleagues when a family member is ill or they have a baby one the way, this department will send supportive notes of encouragement. “We have people here who remember our birthdays when our family members don’t,” says Ellen Torbert, the Southwest’s vice president of diversity and inclusion.
“At Louisiana’s Ochsner Health System, employees are required to follow the “10/5 rule,” making eye contact with anyone within 10 feet and greeting anyone within five feet,” WSJ added.
But not all companies agree with these kumbaya sessions at the workplace. Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, does not believe capitalism and kindness go hand-in-hand—he wants his employers to quickly fire anyone unfit for the job and enforces constructive criticism, not compliments, as better ways to stimulate productivity in his company. To each his own. What are your thoughts?