Being a nice, pleasant person on the job makes for a better working environment and will garner you fans among your co-workers, but a new study says there is another good reason to be nice at work: it'll help you sleep at night.
This is exciting for me because I've embraced sleep and I do everything I can to encourage my staff to be more rested for work, as it increases productivity and is better for overall health.
The study, which comes from the University of Iowa, says that people who behave badly at work are more likely to suffer from insomnia on those days. Looking at three other studies that had sampled nearly 600 workers from the United States and China, researchers found that poor behavior at work led to ruminative behavior in the evening, which led to trouble falling and staying asleep.
In other words, when people are jerks at work, they dwell on it that night, causing them to have difficulty sleeping.
In two of the studies, employees' at-work behavior and sleep patterns were tracked over 10 workdays while in the other study, people were asked to recall various incidents of personal workplace behavior -- both good and bad -- and took note of how they slept on the nights they were asked to recall the different types of behaviors.
The researchers noted that with lack of sleep becoming more of a concern for the general public and employers alike, it would be a good idea to take steps to address how employees' own behavior can affect their sleeping patterns.
They recommend promoting good behavior at work, which will theoretically cut down on instances of poor behavior and let people sleep better at night, increasing their productivity, which ultimately increases the productivity of the company.
So, in the interests of getting your employees to behave better towards each other at work so nobody is losing any sleep, here are four strategies I've found that you can use to facilitate good behavior:
1. Explain the "why."
One suggestion from the researchers themselves is to not only tell workers what behavior is unacceptable, but also thoroughly explain the underlying logic of why it is unacceptable from a moral perspective so workers fully understand why they are not to do something. People tend to be more receptive to rules and guidelines if they know why they are in place.
This is something I've been experimenting with in my own businesses. I don't want to sound condescending, but it's true: Leading is a bit like parenting. As any parent knows, kids don't respond well to "because I said so." They prefer to know the reasoning behind the various laws governing their lives. Employees do, too.
2. Hire the right people.
The best way to create a culture, including one of mutual respect and positivity, is to hire people who will fit into this culture. If you end up hiring people who are not nice, but who perform their jobs well, you may need to make a decision on what you value more.
I always try to gauge how pleasant a person is during the job interview, which isn't always easy, as they are obviously on their best behavior during that time. What I like to do is get feedback from some long-term employees who I trust about the new recruits and their overall attitude.
3. Break bread together.
I've previously written about how free lunch at work can be good for increasing creativity among employees. It can also be good for building team chemistry, especially if you mix up the seating arrangements to avoid employees constantly sitting with the same co-workers.
Try doing something fun like seating tables by birth month or zodiac sign to get employees mixing and meeting co-workers who they might not normally get the chance to mingle with. At my businesses, we have a monthly potluck, which allows employees to show of their culinary (or grocery shopping) skills and share a little of their culture, as well.
4. Promote the benefits of relaxation.
Helping people to relax will just make them more pleasant to be around. You can do this as an employer by including massage therapy in your health benefits package and encouraging people to use it.
Also encourage people to use their vacation time, even if they just stay around their home. Time away from work replenishes the spirit and allows people to get away from each other for a bit, which does wonders for relationships. We always encourage our employees to take their vacation time because they deserve that break from work.
By promoting good, friendly behavior at work, you'll also be helping to promote restfulness and, in turn, increased productivity among your employees.