In today’s fast-paced workplace, it can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. So, how often do you take a moment to check in on colleagues and employees? Taking the time to check in with people can have a number of benefits for both individuals and organizations. The power of a text, brief email or even a quick phone call can make a tremendous difference.
Research Supports the Power of Checking In
There was an article in the New York Times, “Text Your Friends. It Matters More Than You Think.” It outlines research that states that “most of us underestimate the power of the casual check-in” and it got us thinking. We are firm advocates for small gestures – a thank you note, a social media shout-out, a favorite snack. A check-in can be a simple but powerful move.
“’Even sending a brief message reaching out to check in on someone, just to say ‘Hi,’ that you are thinking of them, and to ask how they’re doing, can be appreciated more than people think,’ said Peggy Liu, Ben L. Fryrear Chair in Marketing and an associate professor of business administration with the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business.”
Dr. Liu is the lead author of a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that found people tend to “underestimate how much friends like hearing from them. She and her team ran a series of 13 experiments, involving more than 5,900 participants, to get a sense of how good people are at guessing how much friends value being reached out to, and what kinds of interactions are the most powerful.”
“Those reaching out were asked to rate how appreciative, happy, pleased and grateful they anticipated the contact would be to hear from them — from not at all to very much. The researchers then asked those on the receiving end of the check-in to rate how much they appreciated the contact.”
“Across all 13 experiments, those who initiated contact significantly underestimated how much it would be appreciated.”
Checking in Isn’t Just for Friendships
Although the article and research focus on how to brighten a friend’s day, it can easily be translated to an employee or colleague. And frankly, if you work in a stressful environment, it’s even more important.
For individuals, checking in can build relationships and trust, help people feel more connected to their work and colleagues, identify and address challenges or concerns they may be facing, and validate that they feel supported and valued.
For organizations, checking in can help to improve employee engagement and productivity, stave off stress and burnout before it happens, and create a more positive and supportive work environment.
Just saying “Hey! Just checking in!” is perfect! But if you’d like to widen the conversation — and it’s a colleague or employee you don’t know well — here are some conversation starters that may open the door to a productive conversation,
- Ask about their interests. What are they passionate about? What do they like to do in their free time? This can help you get to know them better and show that you’re interested in what they have to say.
- Ask about their goals. What are they working towards? What are their dreams and aspirations? This can help you understand what’s important to them and how you can support them.
- Ask about their challenges. What are they struggling with? What are the obstacles they’re facing? This can help you offer support and encouragement.
- Ask about their thoughts and feelings. How are they feeling today? What’s on their mind? This can help you connect with them on a deeper level.
- Ask about their needs. Is there anything you can do to help them? This can show that you care about them and want to be there for them.
The key? Simply take the time to do it. Checking in with people is a simple act of kindness
that can make a big difference.
Taking the time to check in with people in the workplace can show them that we care about their well-being and their contributions to the team. This ultimately leads to a more engaged, productive, and successful workforce.
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