Dan Schawbel: Technology Is Isolating Your Employees

You talk a lot about isolation, which can be a tough stigma to overcome for a company. What are some of the ways that CEOs can create a culture where people feel like they can collaborate more freely?

I think it’s about creating a culture where people feel comfortable sharing ideas. You know, it’s like Google’s Project Aristotle. They were trying to figure out what made the highest performing teams. And what they found is the most effective thing a leader can do is create a safe space so people freely share their ideas without repercussions.

I think that’s part of it. I think the other part is not being afraid to share more of who you are at work because then you can establish more human connections. And then, doing small things like using technology…like Outlook or Gmail… to get everyone to the same place at the same time, with the right agenda. But then when you are in that meeting to put all of your phones in the middle of the table and actually be present instead of using technology during that meeting and not actually being there with others.

I think social gatherings are really big, that seems to be what people want, right? No one just wants to work for a company that’s trying to make a profit anymore. They want to work for a company where there’s meaningful work. The company is having an impact on society, even the local community. And people want to work with their friends now.

The more friends you have at work, the more loyal you’re going to be to the company because it’s easy to leave a company where you don’t have social connections and there’s no meaning, than to leave your family. Because, young people especially look at their coworkers as their work family and their boss as their work parent. There’s an old saying, “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.”

CEOs love the idea of metrics, being able to measure something. But obviously, it’s not as easy with something like team collaboration. How can you measure this?

I think the big number is retention. You know, the cost to replace an employee is pretty high, and especially if they’re at a more senior level. And if you have a low engagement and people don’t feel an affinity for a brand, they are more likely to leave, and it takes months to replace an employee. It’s a lot of stress and it’s a lot of money spent on advertising on job boards.

“The reality is that people who overuse or misuse it feel lonely, isolated, less connected and less committed to their teams and organizations because of it.”

So the cost of replacing an employee is a lot, not just from a monetary standpoint, but a time standpoint, right? And so, if you can increase your engagement and foster better team relationships, you will have a lower attrition rate, and that will make you more effective, grow faster, and save a lot of money.

What are the top takeaways you’re hoping CEOs get from reading your book?

That work is no longer work, it’s work and life combined because we’re working so many hours now. And much of our work is built into our identity. And so, if you want to have a healthy and productive workforce going forward, you have to take the whole person into account, and really build real strong relationships with your team because then they’re willing to stay with you longer which saves you more money.

And it’s just a more fun place to work because if you have a bad work experience, you’re going to take that home into your life. Think of the last time you had a bad work day, when you come home to be with friends or family, you’re not going to be very happy and that’s going to affect your other relationships. And so, that’s actually why I focus my whole career on improving the workplace and helping, you know, support people’s careers because if work becomes better, people’s overall life improves.

Read more:  True Collaboration Yields Better Results, But Success Is Not Guaranteed