Developing a nice company culture is every company’s dream. But in the first place, what does it even look like? Interestingly enough, high-performing companies seem to show a common trait in their workplaces: it’s easy to give or ask for help.
This might seem too simple to be true, but actually, an organisation where employees feel comfortable helping coworkers and asking help can bring in many benefits. Here’s an article where we explain the most important benefits, with a few ideas about how to get started so that you can jump into improving your company culture!
First, let’s go through the benefits that helpful mindset can bring to the company culture.
It boosts creativity and productivity
Ever wished that you had more creativity and fresh ideas for your project? Or wondered how a task could be done more efficiently but couldn’t figure it out on your own? Here’s the good news: if you run out of inspiration or don’t have the right knowledge, someone else might be able to provide you with what you’re looking for. Sometimes, asking for help is the best way.
Creativity is a curious thing. Many assume that people are just creative or not. It turns out that creativity at work is affected by our relationship with coworkers. Colleagues can also help you be more productive. Productivity isn’t about working non-stop, but how focused you are. For example, if something upsetting happened to you earlier in the day, it’ll slow down your performance.
Every person is different in skills and experience. So, asking for help from your coworkers will boost both creativity and productivity. It’s a brilliant thing to be able to achieve great things alone but asking your colleagues for advice doesn’t make you weaker or incompetent. You can start by asking your colleague to give you feedback on an upcoming presentation. Not a big deal after all!
It prevents employees from feeling lonely
Let’s say you’re working full-time and spend 8 hours per day at work. That makes one-third of a day. Now, imagine that you don’t feel connected to your colleagues during all that time. Naturally, you’ll feel lonely if it goes on for weeks and months. As humans are social creatures by nature, not feeling a sense to belong to a community significantly affects the employees’ mental health.
With the Covid-19 pandemic affecting our lives, we all know too well what it feels like. Many pieces of research have been conducted and one thing is clear: loneliness is bad for mental health. A survey showed that one in six Finns feels excluded at work and among young people under 30 years old, it is every third that experiences loneliness. We should avoid unhealthy minds for obvious reasons that they keep all the good stuff away, both in private life and at work.
That’s where giving and asking for help come in. For some reason, giving help is easier than asking for help. But on the other hand, people often want to be helpful. So, start by offering help at your workplace: it might bring down the hurdle for anyone in need to ask for help. If there’s no visible offer of help, we tend to assume that asking is too much and others have more important things to do. That’s why we should give more visibility to available help.
It improves mental health at work
It’s easy to identify a healthy community based on trust: it’s a place where everyone feels safe to admit that they need a hand. Introducing to the work environment the idea of helping and making it a norm also positively impacts the employees’ mental health. Beating loneliness at work is only one of many benefits of such a company culture.
When we’re asked to help and feel needed, we also gain more confidence. It simply feels great to do good, even if it’s a small thing. And even better: helping colleagues can even reduce the odds to become depressed! Did it ever happen to you that helping an elderly person made your day? Or did giving directions to lost tourists lead to a lovely chat and kept you going? These kinds of experiences make us realise that we’re part of society, that we’re not alone. The same goes for the work community: you can make others happy and yourself too.
Asking for help also improves your own mental health. There’s a limit to what a person can take in, both emotionally and in terms of workload. If you start feeling like you have too many tasks on your hands, then it’s the right time to ask your coworkers for help. Hoarding tasks will lead you to burnout, so do a favour to yourself from time to time. Remember that asking for help is a solution to manage stress.
It activates internal communication
When the helping mindset is part of the company culture, internal communication becomes more active and interesting. No wonder: if people realise that they can trust their colleagues, they’ll open up and be more enthusiastic about sharing opinions. Interactions between employees will become more honest and constructive, leading to better productivity.
In addition, good internal communication brings along the enhancement of employee engagement. This means that it improves employees’ motivation to perform well and give back to the company. Only paying a competitive salary doesn’t make it possible: trust towards the company and appreciation of the work environment are crucial.
There are even monetary benefits in companies where giving and asking for help is easy. In fact, introducing such values doesn’t cost much. The fabulous part about help is that anyone can offer it: in other words, you don’t need any specific skills to help your coworkers. What matters instead is the synergy between the helpers and those who are helped.
You might still doubt it, thinking, isn’t it obvious that people would want help from the most qualified? Here’s an interesting fact that a research run about IDEO, an American design company, unveiled: people valued more trust and accessibility rather than the competence of the helping person.
We would also like to note that companies, where employees casually give and ask for help, tend to be among the top-performing ones. Also, such places show high employee retention so there aren’t many extra costs needed for hiring new people. As we mentioned previously, encouragement to help is connected to employee engagement and companies with low employee engagement in the US lose a total of $450-550 billion each year!
Now, how to do that in your company?
So how can you introduce such to your company culture? It’s particularly important to note that asking for help is very difficult for some people. Thus, help shouldn’t be forced but encouraged. Employees with a strong sense of responsibility tend to think that they must deliver the best outcomes individually and might even feel ashamed to ask for help. Advice for such employees is that the word “help” isn’t mandatory to use when asking for help. Here are some alternatives: “Can you advise me on how to write this email more clearly?” or “I’d love to hear your opinion on my financial report to improve it”.
As a company, start with small things, like doing corporate volunteering in teams, to lower the threshold for helping in general. Especially for employees who have never done volunteering, doing it alone is a big step, so make it easier for them by organising collective activities. When everyone is used to the idea of helping, it’s their turn to ask for help (if they want to ask for help – remember, forcing is not the goal but rather encouraging).
You could also hold small workshops to make them realise that help can be something really small. Share stories of people who had positive experiences through help on the company’s internal channels to give detailed examples. There could also be seminars/ webinars with themes related to helping and mental health. Many ideas are easy to implement, the essential is to just start putting them into action!
Commu is a new platform for corporate volunteering and helping. Come along!
As we saw in this blog post, there’s a multitude of benefits offered by a company culture, that encourages giving and asking for help. Boost in productivity, happier and healthier workers, great performance and saving in costs. You don’t have to make all changes at once; nurturing a company culture takes time and it’s OK.
Once you introduce the concept of helping well enough, it’ll be much easier to proceed to the further steps. If you don’t have the resources to manage within your company, you can use the tools that Commu offers! Feel free to contact us from our contact form and book an appointment so that we can discuss your possibilities!