The essence of Jonathan’s post was that when he worked at Hays, a large majority of the biggest billers were smokers, but it wasn’t the actual smoking that lead to more fees. More so that the smokers needed to leave the office to smoke and this regular short respite from the hurly-burly of the consulting day was very beneficial for the smoker in connecting with his or her colleagues (fellow smokers), re-focusing the consultant’s activities, and hence improving productivity.
Surprisingly, there’s actually a good deal of research to support what Jonathan was writing about with respect to the advantages of connecting positively with your colleagues throughout the day (although noting that the actual smoking part is the least important element at play here).
In the book The Happiness Advantage (reviewed in Ross Recommends, InSight #181) author Shawn Achor, a former Harvard lecturer, writes …
‘Studies show that each positive interaction employees have during the course of the work day actually helps return the cardiovascular system back to resting levels and that over the long haul, employees with more of these interactions become protected from the negative effects of job strain.
Each connection also lowers levels of cortisol, a hormone related to stress, which helps employees recover faster from work-related stress and makes them better prepared to handle it in the future. Furthermore, studies have shown that people with strong relationships are less likely to perceive situations as stressful in the first place.
So in essence, investing in social connections means that you’ll find it easier to interpret adversity as a path to growth and opportunity; and when you do have to experience stress, you’ll bounce back from it faster and better protected against its long-term negative effects.
In the volatile world of work, this ability to manage stress, both physically and psychologically, is a significant competitive advantage.’ (page 178 & 179)
When I consider the various company and team cultures I worked in during my fourteen years as a recruiter, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I was most successful in the culture that provided and encouraged the connectedness of its staff and I was least successful in the culture where individual connectedness was actively discouraged.
In the company with the most connected culture, we had open plan offices, no partitions between desks, Thursday night drinks out of the office, Friday night drinks in the office and often beach volleyball on a Sunday at Shelly Beach in Manly.
Team meetings were regular, positive and productive and there was an egalitarian culture where all non-fee earning staff were respected and regarded with just as much importance as any fee-earning consultant.
The company’s directors were frequent visitors to all parts of the company and lead the way in generating and reinforcing positive individual connections throughout the business.
Achor’s research clearly demonstrates that this type of leadership, far from being a marginal touchy-feely activity, was in fact a critical part of increasing the effectiveness of each staff member, stating …
‘Researchers have found that the ‘physiological resourcefulness’ that employees gain from positive social interactions provides a foundation for workplace engagement – employees can work for longer hours, with increased focus, and under more difficult conditions.’ (page 179)
Agency recruitment has the potential to be very stressful. As the research shows, this stress is not just bad for a consultant’s physical health, it also has a very direct impact on their workplace engagement, results and tenure.
As I wrote in my blog last week, Queensland generalist recruiter, Davidson Recruitment, was the #6 ranked company nationally in the Business Review Weekly (BRW), 2011 Best Places to Work list.
In the BRW staff questionnaire, Davidson Recruitment was ranked as ‘a great place to work’ by 96% of the DR staff.
Joint MD, Rob Davidson is a big fan of The Happiness Advantage and implements Achor’s recommended practices throughout his business.
Beach volleyball anyone?
Beach volleyball anyone?