What I learned from my kids about Employee Engagement…
My sons are 5 & 2. To them, I am larger than life, as any father is to his children. In my case, my boys are active little men, with a strong sense of connection when interacting with another human being. I have come to the realization that there are parallels between their interactions and those within the average workplace.
Now I fully acknowledge the stretch this likely sounds like, How dare I compare childrens limited social ability with that of professional adults in a structured environment of productivity and decorum! However if you have kids of your own, or have spent time with someone else’s kids, you may likely agree or have more to add to the parallels. In fact, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey, three in four employees (77 percent) have witnessed some type of childish workplace behavior among their colleagues.
Top 10 Childish Behaviors In The Workplace
When asked which child-like behaviors they’ve witnessed colleagues displaying in the workplace, workers gave the following answers:
- Whine: 55 percent
- Pout over something that didn’t go his/her way: 46 percent
- Tattle on another co-worker: 44 percent
- Play a prank on another co-worker: 36 percent
- Make a face behind someone’s back: 35 percent
- Form a clique: 32 percent
- Start a rumor about a co-worker: 30 percent
- Storm out of the room: 29 percent
- Throw a tantrum: 27 percent
- Refuse to share resources with others: 23 percent
The national online surveys were conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder by Harris Poll between May 14 and June 3, 2015, and included a representative sample of more than 3,000 full-time, U.S. workers and more than 2,000 full-time, U.S. hiring and human resources managers across industries and company sizes.
Real-Life Incidents Of Childishness At Work
Make no mistake: Childish behavior does not go unnoticed by management and higher ups. When asked to name specific immature or adolescent behaviors they have seen at work, employers reported the following observations of one or more employees:
- Company owner threw tantrums, yelled, and slammed doors when he didn’t get his way.
- Employee hid to get away from duties and work responsibility.
- Employee intentionally set up a co-worker to get him/her in trouble.
- Employee ate other employees’ food from the company refrigerator.
- Employee blocked parking spots to prevent other employees from parking closer to the front door.
- Employee gossiped about all of his direct reports, then pretended to be their advocate.
- Employee constantly pulled up inappropriate content on her cell phone and showed it to her “clique.”
Playing Around, Or Playing With Fire?
Displaying adolescent behavior in the workplace can take a toll on one’s professional brand. An earlier 2015 CareerBuilder survey among employers found that certain adolescent behaviors can have a negative impact on an employee’s chances of being promoted, including negativity, vulgar language, gossip, and sloppiness.
“Some degree of what we may consider ‘adolescent’ conduct can be harmless, enabling employees to let off some steam and even promote a sense of camaraderie in the office,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder. “But there’s a fine line between innocent fun and inappropriate behavior. Actions like spreading rumors, ‘tattling,’ and forming cliques to exclude others can be perceived as mean-spirited, bullying and even harassment.”
When it comes to my boys, I have also seen a pattern of “disengagement” when I am not giving them the attention they need, when they need it. This I found to be telling as I have seen this at work many times when a co-worker needed to be recognized or patted on the back for doing a good job, and no one did. In my kids world, this is devastating, at work it can easily shift a motivated employee to one that starts looking for work elsewhere. This can be seen as damaging to a company’s culture, and morale within the workforce.
In my kids case, I get unlimited 2nd chances, or opportunities to “make it right”, however in the workplace we do not have this luxury! Recognize those behaviors that deserve it. Seek them out, be proactive in creating an appreciative & engaging culture. This will avoid many of the negative behaviors listed above. You gotta love learning from kids!
Corey Wood is a seasoned entrepreneur and Business Development Facilitator. He has helped businesses evolve for over 15 years providing strategic planning, training, and sales support to projects globally. Corey engages using on and off-line resources, placing a high priority on services that are innovative and strategic. Currently, he is Director of Business Development with Kudos inc. in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.