What if I told you that by practicing giving, one can move from functioning to flourishing at the workplace and in life, and better navigate the challenges and opportunities life throws our way?  


Progress in the workplace is often measured with reward systems and individual success. In fact, studies have found that on average, there is only a 50% overlap between individual performers and those that add the most value to the company and others. That is to say, success in the workplace is often biased towards individual performance, discouraging the collaboration that can occur within employees. Interestingly, the company that made the glass screens for iPhones and iPads, recognised the importance of helping others in the workplace and used this as a marker of success. To move up in their company, individuals must contribute to other patents as well as their own. This allowed them to uncover the individuals who show both individual success and a drive for making others more successful by giving. We need to take a leaf from this company’s book and understand that one of the most meaningful ways to succeed is to help others. 


By promoting collaboration in the workplace, it is consequently important to screen out the takers that exist within the company, and instead encourage giving. In relationships, people can adopt both the position of giver and taker, for example, in some situations we can be a more selfish taker, however, in others we show giving qualities. However, when we notice others being takers, we need to tailer requests to what they are skilled at and that encourages them to do more giving.  


So what tips are there to make us more effective givers? Becoming a better giver centres around the three W’s of being thoughtful of helpful decisions in who to help, when to help and how to help.  



As a giver we need to make sure we are not over-extending ourselves as a giver. We may be asked by many in the workplace, however, it is important to focus more on those who contribute to relevant organisational goals.  



As a giver it is easy to drop everything to help those who request help. However, givers need to realise that there is nothing wrong with devoting time to themselves and being ambitious about individual goals. One must strive to balance making progress on one’s own goals, as well as others around them by blocking out windows of time to help others, and other times to support oneself. It is the diverting of one’s personal goals with the organisation goals that leads to a committed and loyal environment in the workplace.  


This relates to having an ability to say ‘no’. So often in life we fail to recognise that sometimes saying no allows us to say yes when it matters more. Givers need to understand that saying no does not make you a fundamentally bad human or that they do not care, but rather there are better ways to make a difference if we are strategic about when to help and give. 



Givers are often faced with a myriad of requests for help, however, as an effective giver, it is important to be proactive in giving on one’s own terms. That is, by giving and helping in ways that we both enjoy and are good at. This helps contribute to the giver’s reputation as an expert as we understand that we can valuably contribute to others through our own terms.  


Performing a five minute favour for somebody everyday is a good way to practice being an effective giver. In fact, studies have shown that you perform just five, 5-minute favours per week in the workplace, both job and life satisfaction increase exponentially. I don’t think anyone would be surprised by this as helping others allows us to feel valued and appreciated, as well as providing us with a sense of meaning and purpose. Similarly, those that received these 5-minute favours, paid it back tenfold. Giving – through 5 minute favours – has a domino effect in that one individual acting this way can change the values in the workplace, encouraging generosity, gratitude and giving.  


We base so much of our success on an individual level, however, we fail to recognise how we can help others and what contribution we can do at a peer-to-peer, global level. Our contribution to others should be valued just as much as success is individually. We should strive to bring out the best in people through giving. By changing our mindset to focus on the strength of connections in organisations, we can make a positive impact.  


Recommended Further Reading:  

The Culture Code by Dan Coyle 



Adam Grant on Are You An Effective Giver?