Are Your Co-Workers Killing You?

Unfriendly, non-supportive or toxic co-workers can not only make your business life unpleasant and reduce productivity, they can reduce how long you live. A new study found that workers who felt they had strong supportive relationships with their peers at work seemed to live longer than those who didn’t. Co-workers who were friendly and helpful in solving issues contributed to this positive feeling.

Interestingly, whether the boss was supportive or not didn’t seem to have the same impact on a worker’s mortality.

Just Another Reason For Creating A Positive Team Environment

  • Besides the powerful impact it can have on your life span, obnoxious or poor peer relationships can impact business productivity and the bottom line.
  • Studies have shown that focusing solely on productivity leads to burn out, higher churn rates, isolation, sub-optimization, and eventually lower productivity.
  • It has been shown that organizations that build stronger relationships among their constituents create powerful ongoing improvements in planning, responding, and reacting to competitive and business issues. Trust, respect and constructive interaction are just some of the characteristics of successful teams
  • Toxic behaviors that are allowed to exist destroy good will, trust and respect. Many times, individual workers (at all levels) do not admit if they are uncomfortable with this behavior for fear of being seen as weak, not fitting in, or too sensitive. However, it is costing the company heavily in lost productivity and employee turnover…not to mention potential lawsuits. Toxic behaviors include name calling, sarcasm, back biting, stonewalling, exclusion, cliques, and inappropriate language.

What Are You Going To Do About It? Today?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Be aware. Look for the signs and behaviors.
  • Notice where you may be exhibiting some toxic behaviors: sarcasm, inappropriate jokes, put downs, silent treatment, ranting, etc
  • Have an open and frank discussion at your next management meeting. Ask HR to facilitate.
  • Survey your employees.
  • Create a simple code of conduct.
  • It might be a good time to review your organization culture. You may want to convene an off-site workshop to review and update what this organization is all about, and how as a team you can make a powerful impact on the working lives and productivity of your employees.

    The Study

    Kate Lunau in Maclean’s Magazine in Canada wrote about this new study from Tel Aviv University that was published in Health Psychology (a journal of American Psychology Association).

    • 820 workers were tracked from 1988 to 2008
    • From some of Israel’s largest companies including finance, public utilities and manufacturing
    • They worked an average of 8.8 hours a day
    • One third were women
    • 80 % were married with kids
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