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Recently, this employee retention speaker and employee retention author was talking to a young colleague about an article in the Wall Street Journal about the phenomena that young people felt lonely in the office.  It’s ironic because when I was working as an HR leader, work was a very social place.  In fact, too social at times.  Now, it seems we have evolved to the point where people sit in their cubes, work away and e mail and text everything to their co-workers.  No wonder it’s lonelier…nobody talks to anyone anymore.  You can’t discount that an unsocial workplace is vulnerable to employee turnover.  A sense of community drives employee retention.  Having a social workplace must be a part of your employee retention strategies.

The whole idea behind getting away from offices and going to cubes was to increase interaction and collaboration.  It’s done the opposite.  When I have been in “cube factories” on tours, this employee recruitment expert sees everyone wearing a pair of headphones, so they don’t get disturbed.  People are consciously or unconsciously isolating themselves from their peers.  No wonder it’s lonely at work!

When working with other clients we have talked about the scourge of chain e mails and the excessive use of e mails.  Then, we came up with actions to address this because 1) they were a waste of time 2) they were isolating people who needed to collaborate to generate the best possible outcomes for the organization.  We gave people very straight advice.  If it took longer than five minutes to write the e mail, it was probably something that warranted a face-to-face conversation.  We also talked to people that the purpose for e mail was not to throw something over the wall or to cover your butt.  If there is a problem…deal with it face-to-face.  We talked about excessive e mail usage vs. talking in person.  The point was, we set the expectation that people would talk to each other and not be hiding behind e mail and headphones!

After a relatively short period of time, personal interaction was more the norm.  We reconditioned people to…crazy as it sounds…to talk to each other.  Not only did camaraderie increase but miscues and other errors decreased.  People were solving problems by talking to one and other.  Is it perfect?  No.  Does it work?  Yes. Hurling e mails and texts and never interacting is counter to the C.R.A.P. (Caring, Respect, Appreciation, and Praise) philosophy.  It’s tough to care when you don’t see someone.  Not talking to someone and avoiding them is disrespectful.  Listening goes out the window as well.  Communication and interaction are key to Giving your Employee C.R.A.P.  Remember…Give Your Employees C.R.A.P.   Why?  Because C.R.A.P. Works!