In Culture

In Fast Company, Adam Grant writes that people are surprisingly giving when you make it surprisingly easy. Givitas is the platform he recommends for making generosity at work a regular part of employees’ routine.

Why would you want your employees to be “givers,” as Adam calls them in his bestseller Give and Take? Two reasons:

  1. Givers (those who contribute to others without seeking anything in return) are the highest performers in the workplace.
  2. Organizations have a vested interest in fostering giving behavior, since higher rates of giving are not only good for individuals themselves, they are predictive of higher profitability, productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. When employees act like givers, they are better collaborators, problem solvers, and innovators. It’s a win-win for employees and employers.

Read the full article in Fast Company.

If your workplace is dominated by givers, you’re in great shape. Your job is to make it as easy and efficient as possible for your givers to ask each other for help and provide assistance. However, most organizations also have a healthy mix of takers (people who try to get more than they give) and matchers (people who like to carefully balance giving and taking). How do we get takers and matchers to become givers? How do we transform the culture so that it is easy, efficient, and advantageous to ask for help at give it at work?

Years ago, University of Michigan sociologist Wayne Baker and social scientist Cheryl Baker introduced Adam Grant to a group exercise called the Reciprocity Ring. Participants present a request to group members, who then use their knowledge, resources, and connections to help fulfill it.

Adam started running the exercise with students, and reports, “they said it had a transformative impact on the culture of generosity I was trying to build in the classroom. Then I tried it with executives at companies like IBM, Citigroup, Estée Lauder, UPS, Novartis, and Boeing, who called it life-changing.”

The advantages to participants extend beyond just good feelings. Wayne and Adam asked executives to estimate the value and time saved in participating in a Reciprocity Ring exercise that takes two and a half hours. Thirty people in a consulting firm estimated savings exceeding $250,000 and fifty days. Fifteen people in a global pharmaceutical firm estimating savings of more than $90,000 and sixty-seven days.

One of the most compelling aspects of the Reciprocity Ring: evidence shows it actually transforms takers into givers. In a survey of Ring participants, Wayne and Adam found that givers made more contributions than takers, averaging four each. But takers were also quite generous when they used the Reciprocity Ring, giving three times more than they got.

Adam says since he started runing Reciprocity Rings, he’s been asked thousands of times whether there’s a technology platform to facilitate the Reciprocity Ring virtually without requiring a one-time-only, face-to-face exercise.

Givitas, developed last year by Cheryl, Wayne, and Adam, is that platform, and it expands the impact of Reciprocity Ring by making it available on a much broader scale.

The Reciprocity Ring delivers incredible results to teams as a short, one-time exercise. Imagine what could be achieved -and what giving norms would develop–if you could use Givitas to provide a virtual Reciprocity Ring across your company and empower everyone to be a giver as a part of their daily work life, increasing efficiency and collaboration every single day. The potential is staggering.

To truly impact culture, we need to make giving part of daily work routines for millions of people. Leveraging technology allows us to achieve the necessary scale to extend these giving habits beyond the borders of the buildings and geographies that have typically constrained us. We can create a virtual giving community across the globe, making asking and giving a core part of our work identities and habits, all in less than five minutes a day.

This culture shift is not without challenges. The first is getting employees to ask for help. According to Wayne’s research, “a willingness to ask for help is central to a happy and productive work life.” Givitas creates a safe environment for people to ask for help, reducing the stigma and making it easier to ask without worrying about whether you’ll get the right answer or owe someone a favor.

Once we get over our fear of asking, we still have to know who to ask. When we expand our network beyond the people we already know, we add a richness and diversity of experience that can help us in unexpected ways. We no longer have to rely on knowing who the experts are. We can leverage our network, harnessing the collective intelligence of the entire organization and making the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

It can be time consuming to be a giver, causing generosity burnout for givers and possibly preventing them from doing their own work as they spend all day trying to help others. We built Givitas not to be sticky like Facebook or Slack. We don’t want you spending all day parked in the platform watching for new requests and answering them. We want you in and out in five minutes a day, doing your work more efficiently and effectively than ever before.

Smart companies recognize the powerful impacts of creating, sustaining, and expanding generosity in the workplace, including increased employee efficiency, productivity, loyalty, and engagement. With intentional leadership, facilitating an environment where it’s easy, efficient, and advantageous to request and offer help can deliver rewards and change our very culture.

Adam writes, “cultures of productive generosity only exist when requesting and contributing help is part of the daily routine. That routine just can’t last when no good deed goes unpunished. When it’s easy to seek and offer help, givers become more energized, takers become more generous, problems become more tractable, and groups become more successful.”

Learn more about how to apply the concepts of Adam Grant’s bestselling Give and Take to your enterprise by downloading our free ebook.

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