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In the Company of Givers and Takers

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Every day, employees make decisions about whether to act like givers or like takers. When they act like givers, they contribute to others without seeking anything in return. They might offer assistance, share knowledge, or make valuable introductions. When they act like takers, they try to get other people to serve their ends while carefully guarding their own expertise and time.

Organizations have a strong interest in fostering giving behavior. A willingness to help others achieve their goals lies at the heart of effective collaboration, innovation, quality improvement, and service excellence. In workplaces where such behavior becomes the norm, the benefits multiply quickly. Consider a landmark meta-analysis led by Nathan Podsakoff, of the University of Arizona. His team examined 38 studies of organizational behavior, representing more than 3,500 business units and many different industries, and found that the link between employee giving and desirable business outcomes was surprisingly robust. Higher rates of giving were predictive of higher unit profitability, productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction, along with lower costs and turnover rates. When employees act like givers, they facilitate efficient problem solving and coordination and build cohesive, supportive cultures that appeal to customers, suppliers, and top talent alike.