Ever felt so irritated that you need to vent your anger to a colleague? Ever shouted expletives under your breath or angrily sent a tweet announcing that you hate your boss? Well it seems that you’re not alone. A new service has been set up called ‘The Vent’ – the first of its kind in London – to give you the chance to vent your anger to someone who will simply listen as you let off steam. All for a mere £3.99 for each five-minute block of venting time.
What amazes me is not just that people are actually using this service, but that several small companies are now said to be employing “ventor” Eva Takacs to let their staff sound off confidentially. It strikes me that businesses needing to employ someone to let staff let off steam have got a bigger problem on their hands.
Venting is different to complaining. When we vent we tend to amplify our negative feelings, and often avoid addressing the real cause of the problem. In the workplace, fuming employees can actually corrode the environment by reducing productivity and morale. Out of the office, employees sounding off about their jobs on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter do the reputation of their businesses no favours.
Businesses should provide their staff with a mechanism to share their frustrations – either confidentially or face to face – in order to address the issue in hand and, importantly, attempt to come to a solution. There are many ways of doing this, ranging from surveys to ‘surgery’ sessions, listening exercises to having an anonymous ‘agony aunt’ (as I know one company uses). Whatever mechanisms are employed the same principle applies: an effective working environment relies on dialogue in which everyone, at any level, feels their opinion is valued and sought after. Open communication should not only be welcomed, but established as the norm.
Businesses should also consider developing a social media policy, so that staff are clear on the rules when it comes to using social networks in a professional capacity, or to talk about work. After all, social media can be used as an incredibly effective channel to enhance a company’s reputation – if you have motivated, engaged and happy employees.
But that is another blog, for another day.