Why aren't we asking for help at work?

Why aren't we asking for help at work?

Stress, discomfort and doubt are some of the prime factors that stop employees from asking for help at work, according to a new academic study.

In fact, conclusions from management and psychology specialist Professor Daniel Newark, and his co-authors Vanessa Bohns and Francis Flynn, layout that workers also judge whether help will be willingly given as well as the usefulness of that help, when deciding whether to ask.

Newark explained that the benefits, in asking for help as well as giving it, can create a workplace community with strong bonds between colleagues.

He said: “We feel a sense of responsibility, an obligation to follow through. I can't think of many people who can do their jobs without help. At some point, most of us come across tasks that we’re not sure how to carry out. Help — both giving and receiving it — makes us feel good, reminding us that we are part of a community.”

Furthermore, Newark believes that organisations would function better if help went back and forth more freely – allowing information, resources and expertise to travel where needed.



This is something that Aron Ain, CEO of Kronos, believes is a crucial aspect in creating a workforce that is both positive and involved, as well as a boosting a company’s marketplace position.

He said: “We really put a premium on having a culture that is thoughtful and caring and direct and inclusive, we have both the cultures and the values reflect those dimensions.”

Ain puts Kronos’ success down to his HR team and line managers, who ensure high levels of interaction and accountability.

“If you have managers who are deeply effective, you can have a communication plan that keeps people aligned and then you can have engaged employees.”

Transparency is also crucial for companies of any size; Ain explains that if a company is transparent then employees know what’s going on and they can ask the right questions and seek help in the right ways - maybe even getting some of the answers for themselves.

“I start with actively communicating. I do a regular Vlog every couple of weeks. I set up my iPad and do three to five minutes of what’s on my mind. If there are issues going on in the world that we think are impacting our employees, we talk about those. We want to be supportive of each other.”

Previously, Professor Newark has studied the likelihood of receiving help. In a 2013 study he found that if a person declined an initial request for help, or for a favour, they were more likely to acquiesce to a second request.

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