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I’ve seen quite a few articles over the last few weeks about how worker productivity is expected to dip during the World Cup—Captivate Networks estimates that the U.S. will lose $1.68 billion in lost productivity, for example—but I think that’s a good thing.1 A very good thing.
Here’s why, in a nut: Studies show that two of the strongest contributors to productivity and motivation at the office are how much energy you invest into maintaining social bonds with your coworkers, and how deep your office friendships are.
Three different studies found that:2
- Office friendships increase your job satisfaction by about 50%
- You are seven times more likely to be highly engaged at work when your best friend works at the same place
- “[P]eople who initiate office friendships and are engaged in official social activities are 40 per cent more likely to get a promotion”
Sean Achor, a positive psychology researcher at Harvard, has also researched how much more motivated, happy, and productive people are when they take time to invest in their relationships with coworkers. As he noted in his excellent book Before Happiness:
“After surveying over three hundred research participants from various occupations, we identified several distinct types of social support providers, including ‘work altruists’ (who provided the most social support at work) and ‘work isolators’ (who provided the least). Here’s where it gets interesting. When we looked at the correlation with work engagement, we found that only 5 percent of work isolators were extremely engaged in their jobs and that work altruists were ten times more likely to be highly engaged than work isolators. What’s more, over half of the work altruists got along “extremely well” with coworkers, as compared to only about 20 percent of isolators. Work altruists were twice as likely as work isolators to be satisfied with their jobs, and almost two-thirds of work altruists reported excellent relations with supervisors.”
Sure, when employees watch the World Cup their output decreases (duh, they’re watching the freaking World Cup), but I would vehemently argue that the deeper social bonds they form during the process more than compensates for that lost output. Plus, most people are smart enough to plan their work around the games anyway.
It may be difficult to see the productivity gains to watching the World Cup with your team, especially when those gains are nuanced and long-term, but I see the World Cup like a team building exercise, only it’s totally free and people actually want to do it.
Make the World Cup an event—not something people have to watch in another tab on their computer.