We are more electronically connected to people than ever before with smartphones, texting, social media and the Internet. But, in many ways, we are even more isolated at work and our productivity is dropping. On this week’s Small Business Radio Show, I interviewed, Dan Schawbel who is a New York Times bestselling author with a new book, “Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation”.
It explores how a more socially connected workforce creates greater fulfillment, productivity, and engagement while preventing employee burnout and turnover. In order to do this, Dan says business leaders need to create a workplace where teammates feel genuinely connected, engaged and empowered to grow strong interpersonal skills rather than just relying on technology to do it for them.
This is where to start at your company:
- Dan suggests that employees need to be encouraged to share with their team what they know so everyone can learn from each other and stay relevant together. I believe this works best when the information sharing is among the team not just from the manager down to the employees. This promotes communication and productivity inside the staff, so everyone feels the responsibility for getting things done.
- “Back to Human” talks about using technology as a bridge to human connection instead of letting it be a barrier between you and your teammates. I believe that we should use technology as a reminder to stay in touch with people on a frequent basis, but real relationships require in person meetings, video calls or very long letters. Don’t let texts and short email replies trick you into thinking that these create a real human connection.
- “Promoting work friendships to keep teammates engaged and working for you longer should be encouraged” explains Dan. This is not the way it has always been. When I was at IBM early in my career, while they wanted people to be friendly at work, close relationships and dating were not encouraged since people moved around so much. But remember, now people stay at companies for other people, not just for the business itself.
- Virtual or remote workers face a special challenge in creating connections and improving their productivity in today’s company environment. Dan believes we must support remote workers, so they feel like they are part of the team even though they are not physically present. The most effective ways that I have seen this done is an ongoing company group chat, weekly video calls and quarterly in person meetings.
- One skill that Dan thinks we all need to display more of is empathy. I agree that when we are more empathetic with people, they are likely to reveal an increasing amount of who they are. This creates a stronger working relationship and bond between people. I think that the staff is more likely to achieve goals and increase their productivity for each other rather than just the company.
How do you stay connected to others at work and keep your productivity high?