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COMPANY CULTURE

Secret to Low Turnover? A Little Bit of Love

Happy cultures with little turnover are built on compassion.

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Looking to keep turnover low and morale high? All you need is love.

New research out of the Wharton School and George Mason University shows that workplaces with "compassionate love" lead to less absenteeism and higher job satisfaction among employees.

Compassionate love doesn't mean love like Jim and Pam from The Office, the Wall Street Journal notes. Instead it has to do with a general sense of caring--a willingness to help out where and when that sort of caring is needed.

"Workers can show such love by buying a cup of coffee for a colleague who’s been up late with a new baby or offering to cover for a co-worker during a doctor’s appointment," writes Journal reporter Rachel Feintzeig.

The study focused on a nursing home in the Northeast, finding that the employee groups with greater displays of compassion were more likely to come to work and enjoy their work. What's more: That groups' residents--their customers, so to speak--also reported higher spirits.

Sound intuitive? It is. Of course people will like their work more if they like their coworkers more, and they'll like their coworkers more if they're kind to one another.

But the findings become all the more stark when you consider the other end of the stick. Namely, the effects on turnover and happiness at a less-than-loving workplace. Previous research has shown that a whopping 26 percent of employees have sought new work because of impolite or abrassive coworkers.

And the study dovetails with other work showing that connections between employees can trump how employees feel about the company they work for. One study showed that management that encourages employee collaboration leads to much greater productivity than management that emphasizes an inspiring or charismatic leader.

If you want to foster the kind of compassionate love that leads to a better workplace, it probably starts with you. Aside from hiring great people who would work well together, there are a few tricks for igniting compassion. (Kindness, the Journal notes, is contageous.) Setting ground rules about how to speak with and address colleagues, emphasizing a culture of caring and helpfulness in orientations and training, and creating collaboration-heavy projects could all be good starts.

Last updated: Jan 9, 2014




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