by Jordan Chanski

Before coming to Whittaker Associates, I was employed at a locally-owned furniture company as a warehouse supervisor. Known as a place where shoppers regularly became friends with salespeople, the store closed in December of 2005 after over a decade of serving the community.

During the closing process, a consulting firm was brought in to help liquidate our inventory. They brought in their own sales team, warehouse help, and management to replace most of our current staff. This changing of the guard did more than just alter the faces I worked with. It turned the once-friendly atmosphere of the store into one of stress and anxiety.

The laughter from the women in customer service that used to greet me as I punched in for the day was replaced by bickering between manager and assistant. Instead of a genuine “howya doin!” from our usual furniture repairman as I entered the warehouse, the welcome was a grunt and a nod. I found myself trying to avoid co-workers during the day to escape the awkward silence that followed them. As they picked up their last pieces of furniture, several repeat customers commented on the change that they had noticed.

I have seen first hand in the past year how great an impact the relationship between co-workers can have on an organization. Friendly work environments help keep employees motivated. They work harder, help each other grow, and are generally in better moods. This amiable atmosphere extends to customers as well. Whether it is a furniture store, a barber shop, or a corporate office, I would rather do business in a place where the employees visibly get along and enjoy what they are doing and where I personally feel comfortable.

I never thought about how something like the work environment could have an effect on a business, but both the internal and external impacts were very evident to me through this experience.