Your mother was right, at least when it comes to social support at work: it is better to give than receive
One of the greatest metrics that predicts job satisfaction and engagement in an organisation is the employee’s perception of the social support they receive. It has a direct impact on job satisfaction and employee engagement which directly impacts productivity. Shawn Achor’s (2007) study of 1600 Harvard students found that there was a significant correlation between perceived social development and happiness. So we may assume the best way to create more engaged, connected and productive employees would be to receive more social support from others at work, right? A natural assumption, but wrong.
Groundbreaking research demonstrates that when it comes to social support at work the support you offer provides greater returns over time, than the support you get.
Instead of looking at the support an employee received, researchers looked at the impact of the employee taking the initiative and developing work relationships (the impact offering support). The impact of actively attempting to support family or friends by providing love and encouragement; being there for them. The findings of the study were remarkable. Only 5% of those who looked for support (the “takers”) were extremely engaged in their work. The majority of the “takers”, almost 95% of those who provide little social assistence at work, were extremely disengaged! Those who offer frequent support at work (the “givers”) were about ten times more likely to be highly engaged than those who didn’t. The research showed that more than half of those who offer social support (the “givers”) get along extremely well with co-workers, while only about 20% of the “takers” get along extremely well with co-workers. The “givers” are twice as likely as the “takers” to be satisfied with their jobs and almost 60% of them have excellent relations with managers.
To liberally paraphrase John F.Kennedy – Ask not what your colleagues can do for you, ask what you can do for your colleagues.
Further research by Achor (HBR) showed that the “givers” were five times more likely to have received a promotion than the “takers”. This research indicates that in the long term if you’re not giving at work, you may be reducing your chances of getting that promotion. We need to stop focusing on how little support we feel we get from managers, co-workers, family and friends, but instead should start focusing on how we can increase the amount of social support we provide to these valuable people in our lives.
One of the greatest indicators of success and happiness in the workplace is social support, and the most effective way to increase social support is to offer it to others.
Additionally the psychology of the Ben Franklin effect shows that we grow to like people for whom we do nice things, and end up disliking those to whom we are unkind. This leads to us to build more social support with others the more we help them. Giving support within the workplace helps build team cohesion and increases Employee Engagement.
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