Yesterday, the New York Times ran a great feature about how to get ahead in the workplace. The proposed solution may seem counter-intuitive in our competitive corporation-driven world: altruism. How would helping others make us happier with our jobs? Adam Grant, the organizational psychologist interviewed for this piece, explains it this way.
“In corporate America, people do sometimes feel that the work they do isn't meaningful. And contributing to co-workers can be a substitute for that.”This is an echo of a sentiment we've expressed in an earlier post about job satisfaction -- that a meaningful connection between effort and reward is one of the three job factors that encourages employee retention.
As evidence for this theory, Grant recounts an experiment where he wanted to get hospital workers to wash their hands more. At one hand-washing station, he posted a sign that said, "Hand hygiene prevents you from catching diseases," while at another station a sign read, "Hand hygiene prevents patients from catching diseases" (emphasis ours). Grant determined which sign had more hand washing by measuring the amount of soap used at each workstation. As it turns out, the sign that referred to helping patients had 45% more soap used.
Grant is coming out with a new book called Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, where he goes over interesting concepts such as grouping people as "takers," "givers," or "matchers"; something known as the five-minute favor; and how gossip can be used as a tool for workers to warn each other about selfish takers. In a multimedia sidebar to the article, he tells the New York Times that he believes as our world becomes more interconnected, having a good reputation as a helpful worker or boss will matter more.
Take some time to check out the article. As a big fan of the comedic duo Key and Peele, I enjoyed watching the accompanying video where they act out Grant's theories about helping out in the workplace -- proving that even altruism can become a competitive sport:
"I'll make you CEO; I'll just be Senior VP."
"I'm signing over the company jet to you!"
"Can't wait to use that plane... to take you to the island of your choice for a vacation since I plan on acquiring the entire lesser Antilles. Just take your pick!"
* The opinions expressed at these linked websites do not reflect the opinions of Harris, Rothenberg International, Inc. (HRI). HRI is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information reflected on these sites.