Fancy starting your workday with coffee, a quick Facebook check and a hearty hug from your boss?
Hugging Research shows that hugging is extremely effective at healing sickness, disease, loneliness, depression, and stress.
Handshakes have given way to bear hugs in some corners of the corporate world.
The Wall Street Journal has even produced a field survival guide on corporate hugging:
At 170cm tall, Sheldon Yellen has to be creative too get up close and personal with his 7400 employees at Belfor Property Restoration. (Birmingham, Michigan.)
He says he jumps on a chair to hug a company manager in the Netherlands who tops 213cm.
Mr. Yellen, the CEO, says a Belfor worker once hugged him so hard he broke three of his ribs, sending him to the hospital.
The injury hasn’t slowed Mr Yellen, who estimates he gives hundreds of hugs a week. Embraces ease tensions during tough negotiations, he says, and enable trusting colleagues to move fast on projects at the disaster-recovery company.
Embraces ease tensions during tough negotiations, he says, and enable trusting colleagues to move fast on projects at the disaster-recovery company.
“We don’t just hug for the sake of hugging,” Ted Baker CEO Ray Kelvin says. He adopted the practice 12 years ago, when bad arthritis made handshakes painful.
A circle around his desk at the company’s London headquarters is labeled “hug zone”; about five times a day someone will stand within its confines and receive a hearty embrace, he says.
The circle is about three meters in diameter, “enough for two people to get in it, sometimes three if you feel like having a group hug,” Mr Kelvin says.
Employees marking anniversaries at Partners + Napier, a Rochester, New York, advertising agency, celebrate with hugs from company leaders at a monthly staff meeting.
In March, one worker ran around the room to evade a hug, chased by the company’s managing director!
100 hugs in 12 years
Hugging in the workplace may be considered sexual harassment.
A recent court decision sided with a plaintiff who complained that a supervisor doled out more than 100 unwelcome hugs over 12 years.
A San Francisco appeals court in February reversed an initial lower court decision in favor of the defendant, a sheriff, and the case is set to go to trial in 2018.
The HR Hug
During training on workplace harassment, Aaron Goldstein (Dorsey & Whitney LLP) takes managers through his taxonomy of hugging.
He’s dubbed one the HR hug, “the go-to-hug for HR professionals looking not to offend anyone,” a one-armed sideways embrace.
Another is the FFBB, “full-frontal but brief.”
“If it lasts for more than a second it’s weird,” he adds.
Alison Green, the author of workplace advice blog Ask a Manager, says she has fielded dozens of questions from employees concerned about office hugging.
Many nonhuggers endure embraces silently, not wanting to be rude, “but they’re secretly thinking, ‘Ugh, I don’t want to be part of this hug,’ “ she says.
Huggers “seem to feel they’re really good at judging when someone wants a hug, but based on what the nonhuggers are saying, they’re wrong about that,” she says.
Siobhan is a freelance writer, research addict and lover of twisted history. If you like horrible but amazing history, check out her website www.interesly.com or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/interesly. Or you can reach her through www.siobhanoshea.com.