Erica Keswin, author of Bring Your Human to Work: Ten Sure-Fire Ways to Design a Workplace That’s Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the World, wanted to explore the factors that differentiate high performing organizations from the weaker ones. So, she looked at a 2015 Cornell study in which researchers discovered that “firefighter platoons who eat meals together have better group job performance compared with firefighter teams who dine solo.”
When firefighters sit down together and share a big meal, they’re not just eating or talking solely about work. They share their entire lives, bond, build trust, and connect in deep, and meaningful ways. Keswin was so inspired by this study, that she named her company, The Spaghetti Project! According to Keswin’s website, “The idea behind the Spaghetti Project is simple: With just a meal and a chat, any group’s goals, mission, and values can get the power-up they need.”
Three Easy Ways to “Bring Your Human to Work”
I highly recommend reading Keswin’s entire book, but here are three key points that truly resonated with me.
- Mind Your Meetings: Every meeting should have a purpose, presence, and protocols. Ask yourself, in the last week, how many of your meetings had a clearly defined purpose? How often were you not only physically present but also mentally and emotionally present? Do you set clear guidelines for your meetings? Are laptops and phones allowed? If so, are they necessary? What would happen if everyone had to put their tech away and connect?
- Play the Long Game: According to Keswin,“A truly human, thriving workplace is determined to offer work-life balance/fusion/integration… Such a workplace also invites inclusion and values all forms of diversity…” In other words: diversity, equity, and inclusion aren’t just about quotas anymore. Top candidates want to work for organizations with a long-term plan to positively impact the entire world.
- Be Well on the Job: Health and wellness are about more than getting your yearly physical and taking all of your paid time off (though this Here’s Why It’s So Important to Take Your Vacation Days is important too!) Employees are happier and more productive when they believe that their higher-ups truly care about their well-being. Keswin writes that “one of the most corrosive ailments of any workplace is incivility. Being mean is bad for our health and our productivity. Conversely, being kind does wonders for both.” With bullying on the rise in many workplaces, now is the perfect time to remind your team that kindness matters.
We should all be looking to align ourselves with organizations that ascribe to at least some of the ten values that Keswin writes about in her book. You may not get all of them, so it’s important to be clear on which are the most important to you. Do you want to work for a company that values giving back to the community? A company that actually says, “thank you” to their employees, offers generous parental leave or opportunities for professional development?
Ultimately, when our values are in alignment with our company’s values, we get the most fulfillment out of the work we’re doing. And that’s a very good thing.