At work and in life we just want to be seen
ALSO: the single thing firms should do to fix culture
Last week I spent some time reviewing the data from this year's Gallup Global Workplace report.
It's well known that one of the biggest predictors of someone being engaged with their jobs is whether they have a close friend at work. (The research actually uses the phrase ‘best friend’ but I’ve found that some audiences find the vulnerability of talking about having a best friend to be exposing). Those who agree that they have a best friend are seven times more likely to be engaged in their work, and are much more likely to say they would recommend someone to work there.
When unpicking that I always think of a lovely thing I saw by a poet called David Whyte. That friendship is the:
‘privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of having been granted the sight of the essence of another’
But there's another revelation in the data that takes this even further.
Critically this is engagement is wholly independent of how many days they worked in the office.
Those two things appear to have a lot in common. Friendship is about feeling seen. But vitally great management is also about feeling seen.
Put that simply it's astonishing that collectively we find it so challenging.
(In today’s podcast the world’s leading expert on fixing broken cultures believes that the solution is very simple: training managers).
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43% of UK office workers are back to full-time in the office (more than are working hybrid) claims recruitment firm
What’s the secret of organisational and societal happiness? Trust, says research out of Finland. Avoid micromanaging employees. ‘Employees know better than the CEO how to structure their work and drive results. Different tasks require different environments and tools, and top-down mandates therefore often do more harm than good’. (Trust is synonymous with psychological safety of course).
It’s easy to think that the main audience for flexibility is parents in their thirties and forties, but as the population ages the task of caring for our own parents as well. 10% of the US population spend an average of four hours a day looking after an elder. Important reminder in this piece from Bloomberg
Yes, WeWork filed for bankruptcy but don’t expect this to be the end of the brand. As Scott Galloway says on the topic, it’s the third owner of the hotel who makes the profit. WeWork remains the biggest renter of property in the US and it’s likely to be a further blow to a commercial property market that is still reeling from the switch to hybrid work. In related news a 1.5 million square foot office block is being sold off in St Louis, Missouri for £2m, property prices are crumbling - with bigger consequences yet to come…
More of this in the UK please: The Biden administration has set up a fund to help convert commercial real estate into housing
Chandler Bing’s disdain for his job was an accurate portrayal of what work represents for many of us: “Chandler was just a guy who worked in exchange for a pay cheque, but didn’t need or want his work to define him.”
New research suggests if you’re waiting for AI to become productised you’re missing out: using off-the-shelf ChatGPT4 achieved a 40% improvement in the quality of work of BCG consultants
Interesting couple of data points on sick days. Firstly reports last week suggested that sick days have risen since the pandemic. (This Telegraph article is astonishing in the way it paints anyone who has a sick day as failing the country).
Secondly Robertson Cooper have published research into presenteeism, which they define as ‘working when sick’. Their data says that a third of Brits admit to working when sick - almost half saying they work to avoid putting more stress on their colleagues. (I’m not wholly in agreement that presenteeism is just when sick. I think there’s reason to believe that some workers will come into the office whenever the boss is there to show facetime)
Want to know how old your body really is? Walking speed remains one of the best predictors of life span. In a study of adults of retirement age those who walked a mile in 33 minutes lived to average life expectancy, every percentage point faster reduced likelihood of dying in the next decade by a percentage point. (Ability to do more than ten press-up also seemed to be a good predictor)
Looking for a new job in the new year? I loved this TikTok about asking behavioural based questions of your interviewer
“One way to build cynicism quickly in an organisation… is to ask people for their input and then do very little with the information they give you”
Professor Frances Frei is the biggest brain in the field of workplace culture and I was delighted to get another opportunity to talk to her.
She explains the one thing that firms should do to fix their cultures (spoiler: train their managers), why she thinks inclusion is a more important element of culture than just diversity.
Frances’ and Anne Morriss’ new book Move Fast and Fix Things