Monthly Archives: April 2016

Who the employee that network together

Getting your employees to network more with their co-workers, instead of with professionals from outside the workplace, could be the key to keeping them around, new research found.

Internal networking boosts job satisfaction and job embeddedness, according to the new study recently published in the journal Personnel Psychology. The researchers define “embeddedness” as a feeling of wanting to remain in a job, both because of ties to co-workers and concerns about losing real or perceived benefits.

Overall, the research revealed that getting co-workers to network with each other reduces the likelihood of turnover by 140 percent.

Caitlin Porter, one of the study’s authors and an assistant professor at the University of Houston, said that while work used to be a major source of friendships, that’s no longer the case.

“That gives people less reason to stay,” Porter said in a statement. “So giving people the opportunity to build their relationships could help with retention.”

In general, the researchers said that networking is defined as a set of behaviors performed with professional contacts, including the mutually beneficial exchange of resources, such as news about job openings and advice on how to better perform a job.

In external networking, professionals get together with people from outside their organizations, often facilitated by professional groups or trade associations. Internal networking, by contrast, can be a little more casual.

The study’s authors said that internal networking can be as simple as gathering for coffee and doughnuts before a meeting. Porter said both types of networking provide the opportunity to ask for advice, offer support and talk about common issues.

For the study, researchers examined data collected from a group of industrial organizational psychologists who were followed for two years. The study elaborated on earlier work that found a correlation between networking and job turnover, the authors of the new research said. The previous study reached its conclusions by distinguishing between internal and external networking to determine why and how each factor contributes to employee decisions to leave a job.

The researchers discovered that while internal networking dramatically lowers the likelihood of turnover, external networking significantly increases the chances of an employee leaving. Specifically, external networking increased the likelihood of turnover by 114 percent. That percentage was even higher if opportunities for internal networking were reduced.

“This study reveals that internal networking behaviors are associated with a reduced likelihood of voluntary turnover, and external networking behaviors are associated with an increased likelihood of voluntary turnover,” the study’s authors wrote. “Employee networking, in general, functions as a double-edged sword by simultaneously exerting opposing influences upon one’s desire and ability to leave the organization.”

Porter said that while employers can’t forbid employees from networking outside of the office, bosses can increase the opportunities for internal networking.

“Everything can’t just be work all the time,” Porter said. “People need to interact with each other.”

Find the Songs to Motivate You

The office is a distracting place. There’s constant chatter, ringing phones, notifications and other sounds throughout the course of a workday that can throw off your productivity.

For many workers, music is the key to regaining that focus. According to producer and composer Michael Tyrell, the right playlist can help you concentrate on the task at hand by allowing your brain to follow along with the rhythms being played.

“[Playlists] decrease the amount of random distracting thoughts that would typically derail you during the course of the workday and allow you to deeply focus on the task at hand, giving you the boost you need to power through your work,” Tyrell said.

“I often find myself needing music to drown out the noise of a busy office,” added Mitchell Kwitek, an SEO specialist at Geek Powered Studios. “When … it is hard to find a quiet place, I plug in my headphones and dive deep into chillwave.”

The case for music in the office

Teresa Lesiuk, assistant professor and program director of the music therapy program at the University of Miami, focuses her research on how music affects workplace performance. In one study, Lesiuk found that those who listened to music completed their tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t, because the music improved their mood, the New York Times reported.

“When you’re stressed, you might make a decision more hastily; you have a very narrow focus of attention,” she told the Times. “When you’re in a positive mood, you’re able to take in more options.”

Depending on where you work, some bosses allow headphones in the office. Other companies take it one step further: According to Zachary Chastaine, a technical writer at engineering firm SGW Designworks, his office holds an annual Metal Day on Nov. 11.

The event began when the employees, many of whom came from corporate environments, wanted to emphasize activities you can only do in a very small business.

“The one thing they could never do before starting their own business was blast hard-core metal at work — all day,” Chastaine said. “The Metal Day mandate is to put together a playlist, bring in big speakers and … vintage equipment, and play the list too loud for the entire day.”

Though Metal Day may be a bit extreme for your office, entrepreneurs from a number of professions weighed in on the music that inspires their day. Below, we’ve compiled these songs into a Spotify playlist to get you motivated.

1. “Harder Better Faster Stronger” by Daft Punk. “I know this is such a cliché answer … but it provides a nice metronome that gets you through your day. The message is driven into you over and over, which keeps me motivated and encourages me to stay focused.” – David Blue, vice president and co-founder,Blue Moon Estate Sales

2. “If I Can’t” by 50 Cent. “This song helps me stay on the grind and get things done. And if I can’t do it, then it can’t be done. When it comes to starting a business and being a rapper, there are a lot of parallels. If you don’t stay on the grind, you’ll never make it.” – David Waring, co-founder, Fit Small Business

3. “The Nights” by Avicii. “I listen to this song every morning during my run. It’s a motivational song and the lyrics really speak to me.  It’s all about being proud of what you accomplish in life. For me, it’s an important reminder to always strive for the best, and happy with the life you lead.” – Josh Cohen, CEO and founder, Junkluggers and Luggers Moving

4. “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson. “It’s a song about self-reflection and seeing how a person fits into the community surrounding them. It reminds me that no matter what, it’s important to remember where you came from.” – Gus Shamieh, president and co-founder, CREAM

5. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. “Who isn’t motivated by ‘Eye of the Tiger?’ You can’t beat the classics and it’s the ultimate motivational song. Plus, I live in Philly and everyone knows this is one of Rocky’s favorite songs.” – Steve Vicario, COO, Cherry Blow Dry Bar

6. “Primal Scream” by Motley Crue. “In the song, there is a lyric that states: ‘If you want to live life on your own terms/you gotta be willing to crash and burn,’ followed by a killer drum pounding. This reminds me every day that you take the chances necessary to push through obstacles and get over yourself.” – Mel O, CFP, Hot Moon Financial

Workplace Competition Friendly

Competition can be healthy because it encourages people to excel in their work, and it can even make your job more exciting. But sometimes, rivalries can get out of hand and cause turmoil in the office.

In an article for Psychology Today, clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone noted that most people are uncomfortable with competitiveness.

“Because these feelings often feel unacceptable to us, we tend to ward them off or disguise them in ways that can be hurtful to ourselves and to others,” Firestone said. “When we suppress these feelings, we leave them to fester and impact us in a variety of negative ways.”

When competition goes sour

According to a 2014 study from Monster, the majority of U.S. workers say the competition they have with co-workers or bosses has hurt their job performance. Of those surveyed, 55 percent of those who have a workplace rivalry said it has created undue stress and reduced their productivity, and 20 percent said it has gotten them into trouble with management.

Just 6 percent of those surveyed said competing with someone in the office inspires them to do their best work.

Some rivalries get so bad that employees look for work elsewhere. Nearly 30 percent of those surveyed have considered leaving their jobs because of office rivals, the study found.

Because companies work hard to hire the best talent available, rivalries are bound to occur when similarly skilled and motivated individuals work together, said Mary Ellen Slayter, a career advice expert for Monster. However, identifying what motivates employees and fostering healthier competition may help managers curb the negative feelings that may arise from people who get overly competitive.

“Balance is key,” Slayter said. “Let workplace competition motivate you to perform your best, but don’t get distracted by jealousy.”

A healthy dose of motivation

There are ways to encourage healthy competition among employees. Of those surveyed by Monster, employees named a few ways they deal with a workplace rival who causes them stress, including working hard and focusing on their goals, talking about the situation with their managers, and learning new skills to outshine the competition.

“Research tells us that people are less motivated by extrinsic factors [competition, cash rewards] and more motivated by intrinsic factors,” Gal Rimon, founder and CEO of GamEffective, a gamification company,”Additionally, extrinsic factors may create a sudden spike in performance, but intrinsic factors are more likely to generate a long-term behavioral change.”

Rimon noted that this type of influence contributed to the success of 2014’s viral ALS ice bucket challenge. “The challenge isn’t an outright competition,” he said, “but it certainly is a case where people are influenced by others.”

To encourage healthy competition, Rimon suggested having employees set goals for themselves. People will compare their performance to a “benchmarked” performance of someone at their level. It’s sort of like how fitness trackers may encourage people to move more.

“If you count steps, you’re going to walk more,” Rimon said. “So if you get real-time feedback about your job performance, you are going to do better. The same drive can be leveraged by having managers set goals that employees can track in real time, relative to themselves, channeling that intrinsic drive.”

If there are still negative feelings and a toxic atmosphere? Slayter advised employees to counter competitive tensions by finding common ground through sports, shared hobbies or just having a drink after hours.

“If you can’t get the tension under control, find ways to distance yourself from your adversary,” Slater said. “Explore your options — from switching desks to switching companies — and remember that living, and working, well is the best revenge.”

Communication and Involvement On Promoting

download-16Having an inclusive workplace is more than hiring diverse staff members. To promote inclusivity, small business owners can get involved with business development in their surrounding communities and improve their overall communication strategies.

Entrepreneurs from marginalized backgrounds — including but not limited to race, socioeconomic class and gender — face more difficulties even when starting their own business, before they can afford to hire employees. This is especially true in less diverse areas of the country like the Midwest.

Supporting business-oriented community organizations

Fortunately, there are organizations, like Omaha Small Business Network(OSBN), dedicated to underserved populations through business development.

In an interview with Business News Daily, Julia Parker, the executive director, explained how OSBN serves local small business owners, entrepreneurs and nonprofits by providing practical tools for success.

Her organization recognizes the importance of funding historically marginalized entrepreneurs in areas with a strong potential for business growth. OSBN provides commercial office space in the heart of north Omaha, technical support, microloans up to $50,000, and other business assistance services.

Small business owners outside of underserved communities can get involved by participating in events and donating to organizations like OSBN.

Changing the conversation in the workplace

As a small business owner, you can make a difference by starting small in your own office. Consider educating your employees on inclusive communication.

Using her background in marketing and advertising, Omaha entrepreneur and activist Morgann Freeman runs an inclusive communications consulting business to improve how companies interact with their employees and clients.

“I focus on changing the way we approach how we talk to and interact with, verbally and nonverbally, with one another in personal, organizational and global contexts,” Freeman said.

For instance, Fortune reports microaggressions — subtle and unintentional insults, such as asking an American person of color where they’re “really” from — can diminish the happiness of your human capital and drive away talent. Despite employees’ intentions, these comments can create a tense and exclusive environment not welcoming to those from marginalized backgrounds.

To reduce microaggressions in your business, you can invest in company education to discuss diversity in a productive atmosphere. Businesses like Freeman’s offer diversity and inclusion workshops and trainings, which help a company understand diversity through daily interactions. Rather than providing textbook definitions to complicated concepts, she helps business leaders understand better listening and speaking techniques.

Inclusive communication relates back to customer service, Freeman said, so businesses should also consider how they interact with audiences over social media. How will your business respond to comments on Facebook or mentions on Twitter?

Additionally, Forbes recommends some calls-to-action for inclusive communication strategies. For instance, employees should acknowledge their unconscious biases, refrain from speaking to genuinely listen, and remove preconceived notions. By understanding cultural biases and altering their language, employees can better understand and communicate with those from different backgrounds, especially for the benefit of the company and its services.

“Stripping away… the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality allows your team to really build an empathetic understanding of diverse identities,” Freeman said on her website.

If you can improve your communications, your business has the potential to increase and expand audiences, while maintaining customer satisfaction from existing clients. These techniques can also improve employee happiness, boost office morale and improve the quality of staff relationships.

“True progress happens by changing the way you talk about things,” Freeman added. “You cannot be an inclusive organization when you use exclusionary language.”