Though it's been causing a stir in recent years, social science is not a new concept. In fact, it's a broad field that has developed over the last several hundred years and has impacted human society in many ways. Not surprisingly, the academic discipline has affected one of the most tangible facets of human life: the workplace.
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You see, at its very core, social science refers to the study of relationships between individuals and the ways in which those relationships ultimately shape societies. Some of the areas of study that fall under the social science umbrella are anthropology, economics, political science, and, of course, psychology, and sociology. With such a broad spectrum, it's no wonder it's changed the way we do things.
With that said, here are a few ways to use social science to improve the workplace.
1. Identify Personality Types
Anyone who has ever held a job for any length of time knows that one of the biggest challenges is learning to work in harmony within their team. Consider having your employees take a personality test based on the system first introduced by Carl Jung in 1921. It was later refined and perfected by C. Myers and I. M. Briggs and has become a widely respected and commonly used method for measuring personality types and compatibility between individuals.
It's especially helpful for business management ventures, as well as counseling and personal development settings. Though it's been met with skepticism in the academic world, most who use it find that it delivers an extremely accurate portrait of their personality. Once you know your team's Myers-Briggs personality type
, you can take them into account for matters of communication and productivity issues in the office.
By reading the in-depth description of each personality type, employees will gather a new understanding of their own coping skills and identify personal weaknesses. After they've shared their results with the rest of the office, they can read about their peers' and improve their inter-office communication.
You can also test the personalities of potential employees
to ensure a harmonic placement among existing staff members.
2. Run Social Experiments
Social psychology experiments help members of an office understand exactly how their colleagues work under pressure, in conflict, when they are under stress, and when they're completely comfortable. Taking into consideration the nature of your business, your office culture, and your social policies, a social experiment can help employees get to know each other within the context of their work environment.
When you let social science help you navigate the cultural landscape of your company, you'll find that it can make everything seem clearer and easier. Through studying various forms of social science, anyone can work toward becoming an influential leader
in their field.
3. Promote Inter-Office Communication
Through social science, we've found that close-knit groups are critical to establishing and maintaining a positive office morale
. Seemingly small things like larger lunch tables, overlapping breaks, and coffee stations throughout the office all encourage friendly relationships between co-workers.
As reported by CNN in 2012, Ben Waber suggests that reducing electronic communication such as email and instant messaging will inherently improve communication between members of an office. "The more e-mail you engage in, the less effective you are," he said, "People think being on the computer is the same as being face to face. That's a fallacy." Indeed, as technology advances and more companies allow telecommuting, face-to-face conversations are becoming a lost art. Encourage people to use technology has a supplement to an old fashioned face-to-face conversation.
These are just three solid ways that social science can improve the workplace. It's all about the people: the way they think, act, resolve problems, communicate with each other, and how it all fits together to mold societies. After reading this, how do you plan to improve your workplace? Please share with us your experiences in the comments below.
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