The latest issue of Canadian Business has an article about touching in the workplace featuring yours truly. They cite NBA teams as one example:
A study last year linked touch to team performance in the NBA. After examining every hug, high–five and shoulder bump delivered by professional basketball players during the 2008–2009 season, the researchers found a correlation between high levels of physical contact and game success. The findings, which controlled for such factors as skill level and league ranking, were significant enough to garner a call from Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets (who holds an MBA).
And then they bring in the big guns :-)
Encouraging employees to touch each would seem to be an obvious HR minefield, at least at first glance. But Alexander Kjerulf, a Danish workplace consultant, hopes the Berkeley study will convince more managers to loosen up. Kjerulf helps clients, ranging from IBM to Ikea, to create happier office environments, which in turn can lead to lower absenteeism and turnover, and improved productivity. He points out that the No. 1 source for happiness at work is not related to the job per se. Research shows employees are most content when they have good relationships with their bosses and co–workers. And Kjerulf insists the best relationships come from being natural. “We are pack animals,” he adds, “and not touching each other is not natural.”
I wrote about this previously, and one commenter contributed this story:
I once worked for a bank in Germany (well these are two locations in which you would not normally expect “personal affection” ;-)).
The team was large, about 40 people worked in one open space office. It surprised me a lot that every morning, whoever arrived, walked through the whole office and greeted everybody with a handshake and some personal words. It did not matter if the team members came, the bosses from higher up or anybody from another department. It was known everywhere that here you greet everybody personally.
For the first week, I found that very strange and a bit intimidating. Also, it cost a lot of time all in all. Yet afterwards, I really enjoyed it. It gave everybody the chance to get to know the colleagues a bit better, to hear what they are off to or to realize that somebody is not in or just returned from a trip or vacation. There was no need to e-mail weekly lists on who is out when. We just knew it.
Btw, when I moved on to another job, I sort of missed it.
Simple – effective – makes a difference.
What’s the attitude to touching in your workplace? What would you like it to be? What does a hand shake, high-five or even a hug in the workplace do for you?