Are office friendships affecting your bottom line?

by Nicola Middlemiss23 Mar 2015
Ensuring workplace happiness is high on the agenda for HR but, according to one new study, the thing most affecting employee engagement could be out of your control.

The report, conducted by Virgin Pulse, found that nearly 40% of employees named their co-workers as the top reason they love their job – and a huge 66% said those positive relationships actually increased their productivity.

You can, of course, encourage workers to socialise but you can’t force them to be friends – so what can you do to foster positive relationships among your employees and ultimately improve productivity?

HR manager Kelly Quinn, of Nurse Next Door, says it can’t be a half-hearted attempt at encouraging interaction – you have to build it into the core of your company from the very beginning. Here’s how:
  1. Define your company culture
Having a clearly defined company culture is the first step to fostering friendships among your employees, says Quinn – it’s the only way you’ll be able to bring a team of like-minded people on board.

Nurse Next Door consistently champions its strong company culture – focused primarily on admiring people, caring for one another and being passionate about making a difference. The organisation’s head-quarters are even affectionately known as the “Heart-Quarters.”
  1. Hire for cultural fit 
According to Quinn, aligning your recruitment process with company culture is one of the most important things any HR professional can do.

“A lot of companies don’t necessarily have a strong culture or they haven’t yet identified what their culture is – but what we find is that hiring team members based on our brand and team values is a really good recruitment process.”

“We align on culture fit before we even go into the details of why someone is a good technical fit – because of that we have a lot of genuine connections among our team members,” she elaborated.

Over the past 18 months, Nurse Next Door’s employee base has doubled but Quinn says HR managers shouldn’t cave into the pressure to recruit quickly.

“Bringing on board enough team members to assist out growth but ensuring they’re also a core value fit has been a major challenge,” admitted Quinn. “But you don’t just want to bring on anyone,” she continued. “You need to make sure they’re still aligned with the culture so our culture can thrive.”
  1. Walk the walk 
So you’ve defined your culture and hired appropriate employees but you can’t leave it at that. Workers need to be constantly reminded of the culture they’re working in – and that comes from the top down.

Nurse Next Door implements a whole host of practices designed to demonstrate how the company cares for, and admires, its employees.

From their internal currency “Flower Bucks”, which can be used in quarterly auctions, to their “dream-tree”, Nurse Next sets a caring precedent for all other employees to follow.
  1. Encourage interaction 
Finally, the step that many HR managers skip to – encouraging interaction.

“We specifically implant fun into our culture especially when we know things are very stressful,” says Quinn, who has provided employees with pizza days, ice cream cake, regular parties and even sundae bars.

“We just try to inject fun into to the day so people can take a break from their desks and have fun and socialise,” she explained.


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