Comment: Would you hug your boss?

Tiger Woods hugs his caddie after winning the World Golf Championship CA Championship at Miami in 2006. Picture: Getty
Tiger Woods hugs his caddie after winning the World Golf Championship CA Championship at Miami in 2006. Picture: Getty
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IT’S not the biggest date on the rota of special occasions, so for those of you who might have missed it, Friday is National Hug Your Boss Day.

Now some would just as soon cuddle a porcupine as clinch their manager, but that
hasn’t upset the Hug Your Boss bandwagon, now in its sixth year in the UK.

Pathological guardians of their personal space may pull a sickie “just in case”, but others will, er, embrace the cause.

The aim is to test the quality of the working relationship with your manager by putting it to the “hug analysis” – a series of ten questions ranging from whether you share personal stories to whether you feel you and your boss are “on the same side”. The more “no” answers you give, the poorer your working relationship and the less likely a clasp.

But do grown-ups really need to hug to forge the optimum working relationship? Of course not, so it’s easy to take the mick out of this particular initiative. But for all its frippery, there is an important underlying point.

A hug, you see, is a visible indicator of trust, good will and reciprocal esteem. No-one lets someone they don’t like get that close to them, nor do we tend to embrace someone if we don’t respect them.

A hug is also an act of comfort or support in times of difficulty, and all of these characteristics –dependability, mutual regard and the ability to pull together – are marks of the most successful professional relationships.

Just in case this is starting to sound less like the workplace and more like group therapy, consider this: the vast majority of employees – 86 per cent, according to Hug Your Boss organisers at – believe they are more productive at work if they like their boss.

Meanwhile, research at the start of this year by Investors in People (IIP) found that almost half of workers in Scotland are considering moving job as the employment market improves. After years of lying low in posts where they are unhappy, workers are shedding the shackles of job insecurity.

And why are they looking about? After last week’s headlines about the “shock” fall in real wages across the UK, the logical guess would be that they are after more money.

But that is not the case. According to IIP Scotland, 64 per cent said greater job satisfaction is their main incentive for moving, versus just 49 per cent who are looking for better pay. Nearly two-thirds said bad management is the main reason they are currently unhappy at work, while almost one-third believe their skills and talents would be better valued elsewhere.

What they are being drawn to are employers with a good reputation – a place where their input is valued, where responsibility is commensurate with experience and where teamwork runs smoothly.

With employment in Scotland now at a record high, the best staff will be increasingly drawn to such workplaces. They want a boss that they can hug, either literally or metaphorically. «