Chameleons in Workplace

reklaam kameeleon

We are like chameleons. Our surrounding influences us more than we think.

Environment plays an important role where ever we are. And under the term ‘environment’ I am talking about physical surrounding (office and workspace itself) as well as the psychological environment (people with whom we are surrounded).

Happy Workplaces are created in organizations where both physical environment, as well as the psychological environment, are in balance.

Today’s organizations are fighting the war for talents. Talented people know that.  They want to work for the best employers. Let’s take Google for instance: workspace is great, the job itself, as well as coworkers and culture, is exciting. That is why already several years in a row Google has been evaluated by students as the most attractive employer (according to Universum’ study).  Which has created a situation for Google that almost everybody (I am exaggerating here a bit but you know what I mean) want to work for them – it is actually harder (they say that about 20 times harder) to get hired to Google than to be accepted to Harvard or Stanford University.

As I see it: in case you want to succeed as an employer, you need to have your organization’s environments in balance. It doesn’t mean that you need to be as fancy as corporate banks or technology companies, but there are small things that matter, like access to good coffee, flexible work or similar.

Today’s organizations are (still) made up of people. This whom we attract and hire has a significant influence on our corporate culture and people happiness.

Back to the beginning: as I told, we are like chameleons. Chameleons change the color of their skin depending on the environment where they are at. The same applies to people. Well not directly, of course 🙂

Studies confirm that our coworkers influence us more than we think. For instance, when you put a fast worker next to a slow worker tends to speed up the slow worker instead of slowing down the fast worker. But for instance, toxic workers negatively influenced their neighbors’ performance. If a toxic worker sat next to a nontoxic worker, the toxic worker’s influence won out, and the nontoxic worker had an increased chance of becoming toxic.

So you see, an environment has a significant role in workplace happiness and this is something that we create ourselves.

Because of that, I believe that it all comes down to organizations culture. And culture is something that is created by people working in an organization. So, therefore, decisions that we make when recruiting and hiring people have a significant role in organization’s culture as well its success.

That is why you should hire for attitude and aim for optimistic people. You don’t believe me? Well, take a look at this MetLife story from the 1980s*. Their turnover was so bad among its insurance salespeople that 50% of them were quitting within the first year, and only 20% remained after four years. The company was spending $75 million on hiring alone per year. So they tested employees’ explanatory styles or levels of optimism and found that those with the more optimistic styles sold 37% more insurance than the pessimistic ones. The most optimistic ones sold 88% more insurance than the most pessimistic ones. And agents who were more optimistic were 50% less likely to quit then the pessimists. So they changed how they hired agents, selecting only the most optimistic ones. Within a few years, MetLife’s turnover plummeted, while its market share increased by an astounding 50%!


Sources used in this post:

*White Paper “Is happiness at work possible?” Prepared by: Karim H. Ismail, MBA, November 2010


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