A common, ongoing issue that managers deal with relates to how much socialization goes on at work and whether or not their staff is being productive enough. Interestingly, recent studies show that there are a number of benefits to workplace socializing:
#1. Increases Productivity/Performance – Research has shown that workplace chatter, even a little small talk, actually increases productivity. Employees’ moods, emotions, and overall dispositions have a strong impact on job performance, decision-making, turnover, teamwork, and leadership.
#2. Maintains Healthy Living – Working in an unfriendly and cold environment takes its toll, both physically and emotionally. When employees feel comfortable with their peers and supported by management, the risk of sickness, disease, and the need to take a “mental health day” decreases dramatically.
#3. Encourages Teamwork – Encouraging your employees to develop relationships within the company not only goes a long way in creating a social, fun atmosphere, but also increases organizational loyalty by making them feel as if they belong to something more than a “9 – 5 job”.
#4. Acclimates New Employees Faster – The power a peer group has to make or break a new hire cannot be underestimated. Co-worker support and encouraging socialization may assist in helping them find a good fit within the company culture, as well as find the right mentor to get up-to-speed in their new role faster.
When it comes to employee socialization, however, there needs to be a proper balance. If you don’t draw the line somewhere, someone may try to take advantage of the situation. If your team members are too chatty, it can certainly have the opposite effect on productivity and efficiency.
So, as a manager, what can you do to make sure there are more positive outcomes than negative ones?
#1. Socializing should be friendly and supportive. It’s okay for employees to stay within their comfort zone, if they happen to be more introverted. Mutual respect is a must.
#2. Discourage gossip and rumors by using positive language to set the tone. It’s vital that you role model the expected behavior and lead by example.
#3. Support joint collaborations among team members when working on projects or assignments.
#4. Encourage your staff to consult with each other and share knowledge, expertise, and processes.
#5. Provide opportunities for people to just talk, such as when the workday begins/ends or for a few minutes before meetings start.
#6. Be honest and set clear expectations. Your staff needs to know that while occasionally socializing is acceptable, excessive talking or taking advantage of situation is not allowed. Make sure to talk through any misconceptions and deal with any employee concerns right away.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide just how social you want your team to be. Keep in mind, though, that if you give your employees a little room to be “unproductive” from time to time, it may actually have the opposite effect in the long run…
What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree? How would you handle this situation? Do you have anything else to add? Please feel free to ask questions or share your experiences below.
Abdul, Razzaq and Malik, Asif (2012): The effect of socialization on employees efficiency: moderating role of perceived organizational support.
Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project” (2011)
Daniel M. Cable, Francesca Gino and Bradley R. Staats (2012): Breaking Them in or Eliciting Their Best? Reframing Socialization around Newcomers’ Authentic Expression
Jeremy joined Empathia (then NEAS) in 2007 as Manager, Client Care Services, then became an Account Manager/Sales Consultant in 2012. He is also a certified wellness and tobacco cessation coach. Jeremy has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Organizational Management. Prior to joining Empathia, he spent 14 years in the EAP industry in a variety of roles with another behavioral healthcare organization. Jeremy enjoys reading, photography, music, and spending time with his wife and daughters.