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The 10 most-read Relate articles of 2019

One of the great joys Relate’s team gets every year is to see which articles resonated most with readers. In 2019, there were some clear trends: readers gravitated toward articles about navigating the emotional minefield that is the workplace—looking for tips on how to be a better leader or even how to quit a bad gig with grace.

We also had some very close runners-up that included: 5 productivity hacks to employ in the new year, a look at how luxury customer service is becoming the new norm, why branding your support team is more than a trend, and how we’re all giving a lot more thought (and business) to companies committed to sustainable packaging.

But without further ado, here are Relate’s 10 most-read articles of the year.

1. The new norm in workplace perks
If you’ve ever worked for a startup, you’ve likely heard the howls of outrage when a prized snack was removed from the office kitchen (“What do you mean the fridge no longer has LaCroix? You monsters!”). For workers just a generation ago, the idea that the company they worked for would give them any perks beyond oily coffee and the leftover cake from Tammy’s birthday would be downright astonishing. But the popularity of this dive into the world of office amenities shows that the arms race between businesses is very real—and that workers want even more. What’s next? Breaks for taking your dog surfing, perhaps.

For workers just a generation ago, the idea that the company they worked for would give them any perks beyond oily coffee and the leftover cake from Tammy's birthday would be downright astonishing.

2. Informal leadership: be the person at work that others look up to
Being a workplace leader doesn’t necessarily mean having a posh title and a slew of direct reports—in fact, sometimes the employees with the most pull have little or no traditional authority. This article explored what it takes to be that person in your office, and the trends are revealing. Whether it’s forging bonds with a wide range of fellow employees or knowing how to spur team members to focus on the task at hand, these leaders are the glue that holds everything together.

3. Six strategies for being happier at work
Bad boss, terrible job, annoying coworkers—sure, all of those factors can make a person feel like Sisyphus rolling that boulder uphill, only to watch it roll back down. But as Sharissa Sebastian discovered, workers have much more agency than they realize. After hiring a personal coach, Sebastian devoted herself to helping others practice self-care and psychologically reframe events so that negativity has less power. And it turns out that gratitude, volunteering, and other tactics can be far more effective than simply finding a new gig.

4. The Magnolia method: scaling authenticity in customer service
Can a business grow exponentially and still retain that personal touch when helping customers? It might seem counterintuitive, perhaps even impossible. Yet lifestyle brand Magnolia has shown that as long as business leaders value authenticity and forging real connections with customers—and importantly, also put resources behind that mission—

Lifestyle brand Magnolia has shown that as long as business leaders value authenticity and forging real connections with customers…there's no reason why companies can't make kindness central to their support efforts.

5. How not to be an a-hole when you quit your job
We’ve all had gigs that felt akin to having teeth pulled without anesthetic. While it can be tempting to burn it all down and tell your colleagues just what you really think about them, slow your roll. The better option? Taking the high road. While not as immediately satisfying, it invariably proves to be the right course of action.

6. How men can serve as allies for women
If there were ever a time to take sides, it’s now. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, men have a choice: be on the right side of history by supporting women or embrace a toxic masculinity that has wreaked incalculable damage for millennia.

7. Brené Brown makes the case for vulnerability in Dare to Lead
“I’ve yet to come across a company that has both a shaming, judgemental culture and wonderful customer service.” Truer words were never spoken. As Brené Brown sees it, leaders who show vulnerability and empathy can keep shame and fear at bay—toxic twins that can derail a company’s best-laid plans.

"I've yet to come across a company that has both a shaming, judgemental culture and wonderful customer service." - Brené Brown

8. 5 ways to bring your human(ity) to work
Ever been in a meeting where almost everyone stays glued to their laptops or mobile phones? It’s dispiriting, unproductive, and worse, a sign of the times—an era where humans feel increasingly disconnected from each other. Researcher and speaker Erika Keswin, and author of Bring Your Human to Work, has studied companies that managed to maintain their humanity, and her findings are illuminating.

9. How not to be an a-hole when you talk to customer service
At Zendesk, we spend a lot of time focusing on the service side of support—how companies can employ better tools and processes so they can meet the ever-shifting expectations of customers. But while the old adage “the customer is always right” might still hold true(ish), customers do bear some responsibility. Sure, you might be incredibly frustrated that your fancy dishwasher keeps breaking down, but will yelling at the agent on the other end of the line really make things better?

10. 13 SFW questions to build better relationships
If one factor can predict whether an employee will be happy or miserable in a job, it's personal relationships. If you have strong bonds with coworkers, chances are you’ll have more good days than bad ones. For some, building those relationships comes easily—but if you’re an introvert or simply new on the scene, having a handful of personal questions ready to go can help your coworkers open up.

Have a topic you’d like to see Relate cover in 2020? Drop us a note at [email protected]