Why friendships in the workplace matter

As I was watching the finale of Mad Men, a thought occurred. I realized that despite his good looks and suave demeanor, Don Draper didn’t have many friends. And even though Peggy has a cool, untamed charisma, she isn’t the most popular girl at the ball. Even Joan and Roger, with their magnetic charms, didn’t hold on to many personal relationships outside the office.

The few friendships these characters have are in or closely tied to the office. Arguably, lack of friendship is the least of these characters’ issues. But this lack of external friends coerces them into closer relationships with their colleagues. If Don is having an existential crisis, who does he call? Peggy. And vice versa. Who does Roger leave his fortune to? Joan. These actions elevate the relationships beyond that of coworkers. These characters are friends. But is that a good thing?

The “friend at work” argument is a hot topic, even controversial at times. For good reason, too. At first glance, it does seem counterintuitive to have a close personal relationship with someone that you might have to take off a project or give an honest opinion about in a review. The state of your relationship could skew your judgement and interests. That aligns with common conceptions of human tendency. I get it.

But Donald Clifton, educational psychologist and founder of Gallup, believes otherwise. Which is why the Q12 poll included a question about workplace productivity. Why? He asserts that it’s one of the biggest factors in employees’ productivity.

In a study conducted by Gallup, they pit two groups, one of friends and one of “acquaintances” together in two productivity tasks. The first centered on collaborative creative concepting, the second involved model-building. And the results were surprisingly cut and dried. According to New York Magazine,

“Friends were more committed at the start of a project, showed better communication while doing the activity, and offered teammates positive encouragement every step of the way. They also evaluated ideas more critically and gave one another feedback when they went off course.”

Friendships at work also statistically yield higher productivity.  TED released some of their research that found a happier emotional workplace resulted in more motivated workers.  Having friends at work helps employees build that environment. When we work with people with whom we have a personal relationship, more is at play than work. This “social pressure to do a good job can often serve as a stronger motivator than anything a boss can say.” Simply put, you don’t want to let down your friends.

But as a company, what can you do to help your employees find friends in other employees? In Tribe’s client work, we’ve found that when employees interact with colleagues outside the workplace context it helps break down common office barriers. Create opportunities for employees to interact in low-stress situations and allow them to form friendships organically.

Need help? Give Tribe a call. We’d be happy to help.

Start communicating efficiently with Pie

Do employees at your company complain about too much internal email? A new app called Pie could help reduce that email traffic.

Pie is a growing enterprise chat app that allows employees to chat in groups or in one-on-one chats. You can also send pictures and other visual content that can be easily viewed and referenced at a later time with Pie’s search function. It seamlessly integrates with existing technologies like Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and iCloud Drive so there is less time spent adapting to a specific software’s format.

Simply-Communicate recently published an article about Havas Creative Group’s implementation of Pie. After just a few months it has had an impact, in terms of employee communication. One employee stated, “It has already replaced an enormous amount of unnecessary emails between our teams. Everything happens much faster and in a more efficient way. Plus, all our knowledge stays safely stored.”

In HCG’s case this app played a big part in improving collaboration and brainstorming efforts with employees in different geographic locations. For example, say employees in Singapore need to give feedback on an upcoming pitch with their colleagues in Bangkok and Jakarta. Pie helps bridge that geographic gap so that all necessary employees can easily join in and add to the conversation.

This is just one organization’s story though. Maybe your IT department has been having trouble staying on the same page. They can set up their own IT Pie chat group so that employees in other departments aren’t bogged down by communications that are irrelevant to them. This makes communication more efficient and less spammy which in turn can save your company time and money.

Pie is quickly evolving. Currently they offer their service for free but have reported even more powerful paid features are coming soon. Thinking implementing or revamping the way your employees communicate? Tribe can help.

Does your company send so many emails that employees ignore company emails?

What happens when employees are subjected to an ongoing barrage of company-wide email blasts? In some companies, employees receive several emails a week, or even each day, from various departments within the enterprise. IT might send an email about a technology update; HR sends a few about open enrollment and the new performance management platform; security sends one about the building schedule over the holiday weekend.

I’ll tell you what happens: employees learn to ignore those email blasts. In an inbox filled with pressing business and requests from their immediate managers, the corporate blasts will often drift to the bottom until they’re so old they just get deleted.

That means employees are missing important or urgent messages. The sheer quantity of company emails can make it difficult for employees to tell the difference between the big stuff and the other miscellaneous flotsam that fills their inboxes. It’s tempting to put off reading any of those company emails until they’re less busy. And of course, they’re never going to be less busy.

Here’s a three-step solution than can help improve this email overload:

1. Aggregate all those company emails into one weekly or monthly digest. Instead of being constantly peppered with email blasts, employees will be able to view all pertinent topics in one email newsletter. Organize the content by a hierarchy of importance, to help insure employees see the most critical information.

2. Keep the text on all topics brief and to the point. If employees can quickly glance through the headlines, and perhaps a two-sentence summary and call to action, they’re more likely to notice the news they most need to know. Even better, write headlines to communicate the one takeaway you want employees to understand, so that if all they do is read that one line, they’ll have a basic idea of what’s up.

3. Send them online for more information. In that weekly or monthly newsletter blast, include links to the intranet for additional information about topics that require more than a few sentences. That helps the intranet serve the purpose of the go-to hub for employee communications, and lets employees access the information only when they’re ready to deal with that decision or call to action.

Want to reduce email overload for your employees, while improving readership? Tribe can help.