New Harvard Study Reveals Factors That Impact Employee Well Being, Commitment and Productivity

Expert Shares Keys to Building Successful Workplace Relationships

Aug 21, 2007, 01:00 ET from Society of American Florists and the Flower Promotion Organization

    ALEXANDRIA, Va., Aug. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Business executives from the
 C-suite and HR, to QC and R&D are, by nature, focused on the corporate
 bottom line. A new trend in our dawning age of social sustainability is
 that many experts believe more attention should be paid to the dotted line
 -- the one signed when a person commits to employment at a company. New
 Harvard research validates this approach, affirming that trust and purpose
 play a significant role in building successful, productive workplaces.
     The behavioral research, conducted by a team at Harvard University and
 Massachusetts General Hospital, identifies the factors most likely to
 impact 21st century employee well being, commitment and productivity. The
 researchers found that commitment is largely influenced by one's sense of
 purpose, feeling of personal impact and overall trust in the organization.
 Productivity is largely affected by the quality of human relationships
 including cooperative, social group moods and interaction.
     "The results lead us to conclude that workplaces that provide positive
 environments that foster interpersonal trust and quality personal
 relationships create the most committed and productive employees," says
 Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D., the lead researcher on the study.
     According to business strategist Courtney Anderson, J.D., M.B.A.,
 "Outstanding leadership today means much more than just doing your job.
 Success is creating an environment that fosters happy, committed,
 productive team members."
     Anderson explains that reinvigorating workplaces by enhancing trust and
 employee commitment does not have to be difficult. The biggest challenge,
 she says, "is making the time to truly change in our overscheduled, instant
 access competitive work environments. With a little know-how, it can be
 easy to evolve workplace well being and respond to these compelling
 research results."
     Some of Anderson's answers for fostering corporate purpose and trust
 can be presented in three categories: environment, management and
     -- Provide Environmental Support: Great employers manage their physical
        environments as much as the workload.  For example, studies at Rutgers
        and Texas A&M universities have proven that something as simple as
        adding flowers to the environment enhances moods, social interaction
        and on-the-job creativity and productivity.  A previous Harvard study
        confirmed that flowers have an energizing effect on people at work.
        Other managers succeed by encouraging rewarding opportunities, such as
        participating in a local cause marketing program or simply having
        monthly team lunches or team-building exercises.
     -- Practice "Uneventful Management": Be ready for crises but, on a daily
        basis, present yourself to your team and others as prepared, calm and
        assertive.  While there will evidently be unexpected circumstances that
        require modifications and change, one's leadership abilities can help
        instill loyalty and trust. Honest, direct communications are both
        expected and respected, and you should make time to reach out to your
        team on a regular basis to keep them informed of progress and issues
        that they may face down the road.
     -- Exude Leadership: Employees commit to leaders who demonstrate three
        qualities: confidence, credibility and flexibility.  Engage in
        substantive self-evaluation, acknowledge your weaknesses and improve
        where necessary.
     The new Harvard research also found that employee happiness is
 positively and significantly affected by trust and identification with
 one's co-workers. Further, the greater the level of purpose one attributes
 to his or her work correlates to a greater commitment to the organization.
 The same is true for the level of trust the employer has cultivated among
 its employees. Productive employees are a result of a winning combination
 of trust and support.
     "Sometimes we get so overwhelmed with complex, capital-intensive
 innovations that we miss the solutions right in front of us," says
 Anderson, who also says that a healthy work environment is a two-way street
 and encourages employees to turn their cubicles into you-bicles. "Doing
 little things like adding flowers to your workspace or taking a few extra
 minutes to get to know your co-workers will make you happier at work."
     About Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D.
     Dr. Nancy Etcoff is a faculty member of the Harvard Medical School and
 the Harvard University Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative, and is a practicing
 psychologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry
 where she is the Director of the Program in Aesthetics and Well Being. At
 Harvard, she currently teaches a course entitled "The Science of
     About Courtney Anderson, J.D., M.B.A.
     Dubbed "the workplace relationship expert," Ms. Anderson is an
 attorney, author, internationally renowned business strategist, television
 media personality and legal analyst. She is a motivational and keynote
 speaker in all areas of leadership, personal empowerment and employment
 law. She holds a B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, a J.D. from
 The University of Texas School of Law and an M.B.A. from the Texas A&M
 University System.

SOURCE Society of American Florists and the Flower Promotion Organization