Posts Tagged ‘employee retention’

The Labor Market Squeeze

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

The post below is a guest blog from Dax Hill who serves as Principal, Health & Welfare Consultant for CAI’s employee benefits partner Hill, Chesson & Woody.

Many employers are expressing concerns that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find qualified applicants.  A couple of recent surveys outline the problem facing employers: labormarketsqueeze

  • Graham Personnel found that 59% of employers are having difficulty hiring qualified applicants.  They also report the top three employer concerns are:
    • Retention and employee relation issues (28%)
    • Recruiting (27%)
    • Other factors in their organization including sales and marketing (10%)
  • A 2016 SHRM survey found similar results. In their survey, SHRM reports that 68% of employers had difficulty filling full-time jobs in the past 12 months.  In 2013, only 50% of employers reported hiring difficulty.

These elevated numbers are concerning.  Employers understand the importance of recruiting the right talent, and the impact it has on their growth and productivity.  Recruiting and retaining talented individuals with the needed skill set has always been the lifeblood to organizations.

With the tightening labor market, employers are assessing what they need to do to either become, or remain, competitive.  Health benefits are an area of focus that employers are using to differentiate themselves.  In fact, 38% of SHRM respondents stated they leveraged their health and welfare benefits to gain a competitive advantage in recruiting.

What is your strategy towards offering health and welfare benefits to your employees?   How do you want your benefits to compare to the competition?  What benefits do you need to offer to recruit, retain and reward your employees?  What are other organizations doing to control cost and to also remain competitive?  These are all questions you should be asking yourselves.

If you are curious how your medical benefits “stack up,” we can assist you.  For the past 11 years, we have partnered with Capital Associated Industries (CAI) to produce a North Carolina state wide survey with nearly 650 respondents.  This survey allows you to compare your medical benefits and cost to other organizations of similar size, industry type and in your area. Having this type of information can be valuable, especially as you recruit in this tight labor market.  If you are interested in learning more about benchmarking your health plan, contact us!

Why Top Performers Choose to Leave

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

why_employees_quitDuring a declining economy, new hires for organizations would often come from an increasing pool of unemployed workers. Now, with an improved economy and the job market on the rebound, the paradigm is shifting and new hires are being recruited from other organizations.

If you are on the recruiting end, this is excellent news. Your candidate pool that may have consisted of mostly unemployed workers just increased to include workers who may already be working in the very role you are seeking to fill – just for someone else currently. However, you could find yourself on the losing end of that equation if it is your employee who is being recruited.

As the economy and job market continue to gain strength, top employees who were once too concerned about security and doubt to leave their job are now reconsidering their position and their level of overall job satisfaction. Restored confidence in the economy is fueling confidence in their ability to improve on their current position. Also, your competitors are using the same tools you are to identify and actively pursue ordinarily passive candidates and recruit them to a better opportunity. Recruiters are getting calls from employed workers, at good companies, making good money, doing good work – and ready for a change.

Who are these employees, and why would they entertain leaving for another position at another company? What can be done to counteract this problem? According to a Forbes survey, the top five reasons seemingly satisfied employees leave a company are:

Trust

The number one reason employees leave their current employer is a lack of trust. This could stem from earlier cutbacks in pay and/or benefits, layoffs or other measures made necessary by a declining economy. If an employee is unhappy with the way in which a particular remedy was handled, or if they feel they are being kept in the dark, they begin to wonder if they will be next. Reach out to employees and establish a solid two-way path for communication. Be sure they are informed of company initiatives and the reasons behind them. Ask for their opinions, input and feedback. Make them feel a part of the organization and its success.

Recognition

Employees often leave if they feel unappreciated or experience a lack of recognition for their accomplishments in their current role. In an economy that has dictated doing more with less, many top performers have been asked to go above and beyond their job description. They expect and deserve recognition for pitching in and doing what is necessary during these last few difficult years. Make certain your employees are recognized for their contributions to the company’s success. Other employees will see this public recognition and become inspired to heighten their performance as well. Be sure the recognition is meaningful and for something measurable. Savvy employees will see through false recognition and be suspect of it.

Politics

Some employees tire of the internal politics within their company and begin to seek another company to work for. All organizations with an org chart are going to inherently have a certain amount of internal politics, so it stands to reason any new company they join will also have similar issues. The driving force behind their dissatisfaction is not so much the politics, but the fact it interferes with their being able to do their job to the best of their ability. Top performers are top performers because they choose to be. Anything that interferes with satisfying their internal drive becomes an issue. Internal politics will tend to ripple through your workforce and cause performance to drag. Isolate your workforce from this to the greatest extent possible. Make sure corporate decisions are communicated well and are backed by valid, understandable logic. Political maneuvering will undermine an organization’s ability to move forward as a single unit.

Manager

Sometimes people just do not get along. It could be a mismatch in personality or a difference in management style. Employees will get frustrated with their manager and may start to seek opportunities elsewhere. The difference between this reason and the other reasons in this list is there are often warning signs associated with this one. Frustration of this type tends to build over time. Casual, confidential conversations with employees and managers on a routine basis will usually uncover these issues before they become a reason for voluntary turnover. Act early and work with parties on both sides of the issue to develop an acceptable solution for everyone involved.

Inflexibility

More and more organizations are embracing flexibility within the workforce. Telecommuting and flexible work schedules are popping up as recruiting incentives everywhere you turn. Employees, like everyone else, want what they do not currently have that others have. If your employees are asking for this from your company and other employers in your area of similar size and industry offer it, be prepared to lose some of your top talent. Take special note of what your competition for talent is implementing and adopt similar incentives if they can work within your business model.

Although these are the top five reasons employees voluntarily leave their current position, there is one primary reason that is not listed here. One of the biggest reasons employees leave is because business leaders often fail to understand why employees leave. Employers go to great lengths and follow detailed processes and procedures when recruiting and onboarding new employees. During their tenure with the company, employers reach out to employees at least annually or semi-annually to evaluate their performance, praise accomplishments and recommend improvements.

Several forward-thinking companies have begun the practice of conducting periodic “stay interviews.” It only makes good sense to interview your best performers while they are working for you, rather than only gain their honest feedback when they are on their way out the door.

So, why not schedule casual interviews with the best performers and those who have the highest potential within your organization? Find out what is on their mind, as well as any issues or concerns they have. Ask about ideas they have regarding the corporate culture or even improvements in processes, policies or production. Most importantly, apply what is learned during this conversation where applicable and avoid voluntary turnover.

If you have questions about how CAI can help you with Talent Acquisition and Talent Management,  please contact a member of CAI’s Advice & Resolution Team.

renee

 

CAI Advice & Resolution team member Renee Watkins is a seasoned HR professional with a diverse background in Human Resource. Renee provides CAI members with practical advice in a wide-range of human resource functions including conflict resolution, compliance and regulatory issues, and employee relations.

Creating a Consumer Experience for Candidates and Employees

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

We are all aware of the changing dynamics in recruitment, employment and retention.  Companies should think of potential applicants and employeesRecruiting_and_Retention as consumers and create an experience that meets the candidate/employee needs as well as company needs to attract and retain the talent they need.

Technology, globalization, and the increased demand for top talent have changed the workplace landscape.  People can market themselves and access  information on companies and job opportunities to “shop” for what best aligns with their desires for organizational fit and personal growth.  That makes it more important than ever to think of candidates/employees as consumers and to make their experience a “delightful” one.

We have heard a lot recently about transparency.  Candidates searching for job opportunities want to learn as much as possible about potential employers up front.   Social media has made it easier for candidates to search for information on prospective employers (and vice versa).  What information is available to candidates online regarding your company from an employee feedback, social responsibility, and culture, etc. perspective?  How do you manage your organization’s social media profile?

After putting the best foot forward to hire and on-board top candidates that are the best fit for your organization, the consumer efforts shouldn’t stop here.  Treating employees as consumers and being interested in their aspirations and needs supports efforts to retain and engage employees.

According to Steve Lopez, Manpower Group, Companies talk about retention, but the culture does not always support that.  The rewards, measurement, and work environment often support retaining people in a job rather than retaining people within the organization. He proposes a consumer model for employee retention with the following components:

  • The User Experience – what are the goals, objectives and motivations for considering the job and staying with the company?
  • Content – Do you openly share the company culture, job content and expectations, opportunities for advancement and growth?
  • Functionality – What systems are in place to meet the user needs on a day-to-day basis in terms of exchange of information to support organizational needs as well as employee needs (two-way communication, receptive to employee feedback/suggestions, development plans)?
  • Interaction/Information/Navigation – Make resources available throughout the employee/consumer experience to provide what employees need to do their jobs.  This starts with the on-boarding process to educate new employees about the organization, to inform employees how to best obtain responses to their questions, inform them of tools they need and how to access various resources, etc.
  • Visual Experience – Does the desired visual experience for the employee reflect your company brand, web presence, culture, and the physical work space?

By approaching your employees as consumers you can create a world class experience and culture for your entire workforce, which enables positive business results. CAI can help with your company with talent acquisition, talent management, developing a better workplace and more.

(Source: Rethinking Retention, Steve Lopez, Manpower Group)

Use Multiple Channels of Communication to Recognize Employees

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015
Renee' Watkins, HR Advisor

Renee’ Watkins, HR Advisor

In today’s post, Advice and Resolution team member Renee’ Watkins shares some new strategies to reach and recognize your employees.

A recent survey conducted by the IBM Smarter Workforce Institute illustrates the importance of using multiple channels for recognizing employees for their accomplishments and contributions.

Over 19,000 workers in 26 countries participated in the survey, which produced the following key observations:

  • 76% of employees who receive recognition are engaged in their jobs, whereas only
  • 28% are engaged in their jobs who do not receive recognition
  • 51% of employees without recognition indicated they intended to leave, whereas only
  • 25% who receive recognition were intending to leave their employer

Obviously, recognition of employees is an excellent productivity and retention strategy.  However, many organizations continue to rely solely on written and verbal recognition methods.  According to the survey, 58% of employers use emails for employee recognition.  This may not be the best way to reach today’s Millennial workforce.

The workforce of today includes many members of Generation-Y, who have grown up with the notion of instantaneous information access in almost every aspect of life- including work.  Their expectation is to work with an organization that embraces the technology available to them and utilizes that technology to communicate wherever possible.

While there is no substitute for a face-to-face, verbal “thank you” to an employee, there are a number of channels for recognition which can be used in order to get the recognition to the employee faster, especially as our workforce continues to become more widespread geographically.

The use of Smartphones, online recognition applications and peer-to-peer videos are excellent ways to provide more timely recognition and reinforce employee engagement.  These methods allow for social recognition as well among fellow employees and peer work communities.  Feedback, such as congratulations from other team members, can be almost immediate and multiplies the overall effectiveness of the recognition.

In order to engage, retain and improve the productivity of our workforce, recognition strategies have to evolve to effectively communicate with the changing workforce of today.  There are numerous communication channels available today which take advantage of social, mobile and other technologies utilized by Generation-Y and, in many cases, Generation -X.  Using multiple channels of communication can offer interactive, frequent and immediate communication.

What recognition channels are you using to recognize your workers?  Are you using enough channels?  Are you using the right channels?

If you’re struggling with these questions and are searching for ways to help your business evolve its recognition process, please call our Advice and Resolution team today at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Exploring Why Employees Stay With Your Company

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

In today’s post, Advice and Resolution team member Renee’ Watkins encourages you to think about your employee retention efforts.

Renee' Watkins, HR Advisor

Renee’ Watkins, HR Advisor

Every organization would like to see a high rate of employee retention over a long period of time. What is the best way to achieve this goal? We spend time and effort to understand why employees leave when they give us notice and by then it is often too late to react. Perhaps if we first understood the reasons an employee chooses to stay with the organization it would help us to better reinforce those positive factors and drive retention rates upward across the workforce.

“Stay” interviews are becoming a popular norm among companies taking a pro-active approach to employee retention. If you are relatively new at conducting stay interviews, consider one of the suggested formats below to get you started:

Manager One-on-One

Anytime a manager takes the opportunity to speak one-on-one with a team member, you have invoked one of the most powerful tools for increasing employee retention. Employees want to work for an organization that demonstrates concern for their welfare and happiness in the workplace. Work with managers to encourage such “interviews” and present them with a set of employee engaging questions as a guide.

Human Resources One-on-One

Sometimes an employee may be reluctant to discuss certain issues with their manager. This is where HR can provide another opportunity for direct employee engagement. Do not wait for the employee to come to you. If they are reluctant to speak with their manager, they may also be reluctant to speak with HR. Make it a practice to reach out to employees on a regular basis and simply involve them in conversation regarding their thoughts on the company and their job.

Employee Surveys

To engage employees who are reluctant to speak openly regarding their concerns, provide an employee survey to give them an opportunity to anonymously provide their feedback. An anonymous survey will provide them a forum in which to be completely open and honest. However, also convey the fact the door to HR is always open to them with complete confidentiality and invite them to come forward and discuss in more detail. This will demonstrate your concern for their happiness in the workplace.

Focus Group

A focus group can be used to bring together a small group of employees who work in a similar role and ask for both positive and negative feedback on company activities. Sometimes it only takes one employee to start the conversation and others will jump in as part of the group. When employees feel they are not the only person with concerns, they are more likely to participate in an honest and open discussion.

Stay interviews should be conducted with key employees on a periodic basis and should not coincide with employee reviews. Remember, this is designed to promote your interest in their welfare and job satisfaction. Make sure to put the employee at ease and explain they are not being singled out as a result of anything they’ve done.

For some organizations, it would be impossible to conduct routine stay interviews with every employee, regardless of how great it would be to do so. It is very important to concentrate your focus on key employees who would create a negative impact on the business if they chose to leave.

Also, it is important to remember you will never be able to please everyone all the time. Some concerns may be aired that you are unable to address directly via policies or new initiatives. In these cases, all you may be able to do is listen and offer understanding.

Equally important however, is your effort to address concerns that can be resolved. If your employee has taken the steps required to voice their concerns to you, your efforts to take action will be how they measure their true value to the organization. If you fail here, your efforts to improve employee retention may have the opposite effect.

Be sure also to promote the positives you hear in a stay interview. If several employees mention the same reason they stay with your organization, put that in a newsletter or on the company website, preserving their anonymity of course. Always promote the positive as both a retention and a recruiting tool.

Stay interviews have been developed as a proven methodology for reducing turnover and the added expense of recruiting and training new employees to fill vacated positions.

Please call our Advice and Resolution team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 if you need help thinking through your retention strategy.

Attract, Retain and Engage: CAI’s 2011 Compensation and Benefits Conference

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

On August 31 and September 1, CAI invited HR professionals and company executives to attend its annual Compensation and Benefits Conference at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh. More than 180 guests participated in the two-day event. Learning different methods to approaching compensation and benefits and receiving legal updates were top reasons people attended.

“I want to improve my understanding of compensation as it relates to benefits. I want to gain more insight on the topic,” Yolanda Melvin, benefits administrator at PHE, Inc., said when asked why she decided to attend.

conferenceThe late summer conference aimed to help organizations attract, retain and engage their employees by offering innovative strategies to recognize and reward staff in any economic setting. For each of its conferences, CAI strives to provide attendees with speakers who present informative, relevant and captivating content. This year’s speakers ranged from a Lead Consultant in Engagement Assessment and Insight from Aon Hewitt to a Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Conference guests enjoyed five presentations that offered information to plan ahead for a changing workforce, different economy and competitive business climate. Speakers shared their knowledge on re-engaging a mentally and physically exhausted workforce and what rapidly changing demographic trends employers should be preparing for. CAI’s Director of HR services, Molly Hegeman, revealed the results of the company’s 2011 Wage and Salary Survey during the conference. CAI also ensured that attendees received an update on healthcare reform and learned different methods to communicate benefits issues with their workforces.

“I’m always interested in anything that has to do with the healthcare reform because it’s going to impact our company a lot,” Stephanie Moore, human resources representative at DAK Americas, said regarding the presentation she was interested in seeing.

In addition to participating in the main events, attendees had the opportunity to join several of the conference’s breakout sessions. Some of the session topics included:

  • Current Trends in Retirement Plans
  • The New Frontier: Expanding the Paradigm of Organization Well-Being
  • Making Incentive Compensation Work for You
  • Wage and Hour Compliance

CAI works to provide participants with a great experience while educating them on best practices for compensation and benefits.  Professionals who attend the conference get to network with other industry leaders while they analyze research findings, consult on total reward strategies and receive the latest updates on issues that will affect their businesses.

“I always like [CAI’s] conferences. It’s a lot of good information. It’s always relevant. I do a lot of the surveys for CAI, so it’s always interesting to see that the feedback from those surveys is presented in all of their conferences,” Moore said.

For more information on CAI’s annual Compensation and Benefits Conference or help with keeping your workforce engaged, please contact an account manager at 919-878-9222 or 336-669-7746 or visit www.capital.org/compconf.

Help Your Employees Achieve and Maintain Work/Life Balance

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

 

Balance

The uncertain economy has caused many employers to maintain a lean workforce.  As a result, employees are often working additional hours to get their jobs done.  The expanded workweek may prevent employees from attending children’s events, socializing with friends or taking quality time for themselves.

As an employer, it is important to know the negative effects associated with an improper balance between work and life. People who spend most of their waking hours working are much more likely to suffer from exhaustion, stress and poor sleep habits. The side effects from frequent overtime hours could spiral into business hazards, such as regular absenteeism, decreased retention and poor work performance.

Taking steps to help your staff members achieve work/life balance will provide your organization with a number of benefits. The following are some of the positive changes companies that value and incorporate work/life balance initiatives have seen:

  • Improvement in productivity
  • Increase in employee satisfaction
  • Reduction in tardiness and absenteeism
  • Greater company loyalty and teamwork
  • Decrease in stress, sickness and exhaustion

There are a number of ways that an organization can ensure that their employees are maintaining work/life balance. Depending on the size of the organization, the staff members and the budget, implementing some of the ideas below could be helpful in reaching work/life balance for the entire company:

  • Childcare and eldercare assistance
  • Flexible work hours
  • Company wellness programs with onsite workshops
  • Reduced cost for fitness memberships
  •  On-site and off-site professional development opportunities

Employees can also make an effort to improve their quality of life. Encourage staff members to take ownership of their work/life balance by asking them to speak up if they receive too much work or feel strained to keep up with a project deadline. They can also utilize some of the practices below to make the most of their time inside and outside of work:

  • Set deadlines for projects to help maintain the amount of time spent working on them
  • Prioritize tasks by their importance and work to complete the more pressing assignments first
  • Take breaks between long periods of work to help regain focus
  • Exercise, eat well and sleep at least seven hours each night to sustain energy
  • Avoid discussing work when spending quality time with family and friends

Organizations that emphasize work/life balance improve their bottom line and create a positive environment for all of their staff members. To discuss various approaches for accomplishing a work/life balance initiative at your workplace, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: lululemon athletica

Why Employees Stay Long-Term

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Granted, some reasons employees leave a company are out of your control. People may quit a job for reasons as varied as having a bad commute, a deterioration of their community, an industry downturn, a desire to be closer to family or even to escape from unpleasant weather. However, most employees leave a company because of factors directly connected with their job.

 Like the Rolling Stones’ song, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” people leave a company when they are dissatisfied and decide they can only achieve their career goals somewhere else. To combat this, you need an armload of information relevant to your company in particular.Meeting

 Find Out Why Employees Leave and Why They Stay

 It’s important not only to have exit interviews in which you find out an employee’s reason for leaving, but also to ask those who have stayed with the company the reasons why they stay. A simple employee survey could open your eyes (and those of management) to all sorts of useful insights.

 Studies have shown that the longer employees stay with a company, the more likely they are to continue to stay. Research company Blessing White’s Employee Engagement Report 2011 shows that engaged employees stay longer and provide more value to the company (http://grenell.com/cms/index.php/how-engaged-are-your-employees/ ). So the big question is, how does a company engage its employees?

 Engage Your Employees

 There are many ways to effectively engage employees. Here are a few ideas: 

  1. Implement a strong career development program.
    This involves many aspects of management, from the creation of job descriptions and career ladders with clear advancement steps tied to job performance, salary and status, to the time set aside for coaching and mentoring. Providing training to employees is a major part of any career development program. Some employers fear that if they train their employees, the employees will leave—but it is most often the other way around. Fail to train your employees, and they will leave.
  2. Monitor the company benefits constantly for improvement.
    Having great benefits is a strong factor in retaining employees. Offering top wages is not enough, as employees make career decisions based on company benefits such as 401(k)s, profit sharing, sick leave, vacation, and health plans—especially as health insurance premiums continue to rise. The Department of Health and Human Services just released its guidelines to states for the creation of affordable insurance exchanges on July 11. Monitor your statMeetinge’s efforts to carry out the new federal health care law and keep your employees informed.
  3. Make employees feel valued.
    This is where job satisfaction begins and ends. To keep up morale and make people feel appreciated, you must create a workplace environment where managers are respected for their competence and fairness, and employees are recognized in multiple ways for their contributions. Develop creative employee incentive and reward programs, and you will affect employee productivity and company profitability. People have a strong need to feel valued.
  4. Empower your employees. Personal autonomy in completing tasks is important to employees because no one likes to feel powerless. Giving people some control over their workplace environment and schedule is often a wise move on the part of management, but so is delegating authority and trusting employees to follow through. Accountability and responsibility for results are essential for empowerment, so the benefit works both ways.

For additional information about how you can improve employee retention, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo Source: Alan Cleaver, Voka-Kamer van Koophandel Limburg

Help Your Employees Save Money in a Down Economy

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

The cost for almost everything—gas, food, insurance, etc.—is currently rising. Unfortunately, due to the economic recession and other business factors, employees’ paychecks are not increasing at a rate to offset the higher cost of living. As an employer, there are several ways to help your workers keep money in their wallets. Helping employees save money will increase their job satisfaction and the company’s retention rate.

Here are a few tactics to help staffers cut down their expenses:Carpool

1. Carpooling

  • Today’s gas prices are fluctuating around $4 across the country. Help workers save money at the pump by encouraging them to carpool with their coworkers. Put a signup sheet in the office break room to make others aware of those interested in carpooling.

2. Flexible Schedule

  • Thanks to technology there are several ways to adjust the traditional “9 to 5” work week. To help employees avoid traffic, allow them to come in earlier or later and leave earlier or later. Additionally, agreeing to let employees work from home at least one day of the week could help them save a few hundred dollars in gas per year. Some organizations are even implementing 4 day weeks with longer work days to combat gas prices.

Lunch3. Staff Lunch

  • Although your organization might be unable to provide daily lunch for all staff members, offering a free meal a couple of times per month will be appreciated. Ordering in for your workers will help them save money on lunch and on gas.

4. Pre-Tax Accounts

  • Health Saving Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) allow employees to put money away in pre-tax accounts for health care services and goods. Offering this benefit will assist employees in the long run because it will help them take advantage of their earnings and increase their savings.

5. Retirement Plans

  • It is never too late to help your employees invest in their retirement. If a 401(k) p401(K)rogram is available at your organization, ensure that all eligible staff members know the advantages of opening an account. The contributions made for 401(K)s are pre-tax dollars, and the interest on the accounts are compounded to make greater profits.

For more information on helping your employees save money, as well as strategies to retain your top talent, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Richard Drdul, Matt Seppings, Calita Kabir

Workplace Friendships: Reap the Benefits and Avoid the Negatives

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Companies hire people based on the skills and knowledge they can offer to help achieve business goals. Forming strong friendships with others is usually not a job requirement, but when considering the number of hours employees work together, office friendships are likely to occur. Understanding both the benefits and harm that workplace friendships can create will help your organization maintain a professional work environment while creating a friendly atmosphere that positively affects business performance.

A 2010 survey from recruitment company Randstad revealed that a majority of American workers are happier at their jobs because of their office friendships. Survey participants credit work friends with making their jobs more fun, enjoyable, worthwhile and satisfying. Not only do office friendships benefit employees, but they also provide organizations with several advantages. Here are a few examples:

  • Friendships create a more enjoyable workplace, which promotes greater employee engagement and increases individual productivity.
  • Friends give each other feedback. Receiving constructive criticism from peers versus supervisors is sometimes easier to digest and correct.
  • Work gets stressful and talking to friends who have similar responsibilities provides workers with positive outlets to release frustrations.
  • A friendly work environment yields creativity because employees feel comfortable being themselves and are able to think more freely.
  • Team members who know each other on more personal levels might work together more effectively and efficiently than with those who do not.

Although there are many positive outcomes that come from office friendships, knowing the negatives will help your company establish boundaries and guidelines for staff members to follow if they plan to pursue friendships. Watch out for these situations:

  • Too much non-work chatter can turn focus away from work and lead to decreased productivity.
  • Office friendships that end unfavorably can create tension for all parties involved. Backstabbing and sabotage can happen as well.
  • Coworkers who form bonds can create cliques and leave others out to create favoritism.
  • Inappropriate behavior from colleagues, such as tardiness or not completing work, might be ignored or enabled by staff members who are friends.
  • Pals who have negative views about their employers have the potential to get others to share their views, which can result in decreased company loyalty.

Organizations wanting to prevent the adverse effects of workplace friendship sometimes implement strict fraternization policies, but employees are often capable of finding ways around restrictions. Here are some guidelines to present to your staff in order to uphold a professional work environment and allow employees to be friends:

  • Work pays the bills, so stay focused on your assigned projects and tasks. Time at work should be professional and focused on driving business—not socializing.
  • You received your assignments for a reason. Do not miss deadlines or lose sight of your goals to help friends who are behind on their projects.
  • Office gossip is not tolerated. Information that you would not tell the boss should not be told to colleagues.
  • Do not share too much personal information with your coworkers. Private topics, such as salary history or performance review results, should be avoided in conversation.
  • Respect personal and professional boundaries with your colleagues. Just because you have a personal relationship with a coworker does not entitle you to put them in an awkward position inside or outside of the office.

For more information on how to handle workplace friendships, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo source: peyri