Workplace relationships and social connection are incredibly important for employee mental health and wellbeing. As humans we are biologically wired with a need to connect with others. And when you consider just how much time we spend at work, it’s one of the primary places we get to satisfy that basic, intrinsic need. Having good social connection is proven to improve our happiness and motivation. It surely makes sense then to cultivate and nurture a strong sense of connection at work.
The benefits of building trust and social connection in the workplace flow not just to the individual, who is likely to feel happier, better supported and less stressed, but also to the employer too as multiple studies* have proved that happier workers are more productive, healthier and therefore less likely to take sick leave.
Neuroscience experiments clearly demonstrate that when people feel a sense of empathy and connectedness, they are more likely to perform better and be more effective in working towards a common goal.
So aside from potentially seeing enhanced productivity from your team, employers who actively support the development of social connection in the workplace will likely benefit from increased levels of trust, more open communication and a greater sense of team spirit.
So just how can you go about building those connections and working towards a happier, healthier, better connected team? Ultimately it comes down to communication and building trust. Here are 6 great strategies you can implement quickly and easily:
Give Your Team A Compelling Purpose
Working without purpose means your team is not properly engaged in what they’re doing. They’re dedicating their time to the work but their heart probably isn’t in it. A compelling purpose is something that everyone can buy into and get behind and helps to instill that strong sense of belonging.
Have Regular Face To Face Meetings
Meeting regularly improves open communication which in turn builds trust. When a leader or manager is willing to be present and spend time with their team, listening to their concerns or celebrating team successes, a strong sense of trust can develop.
Face to face meetings also enable the manager to share information, stay connected and aware of any issues that may be developing and gives them the opportunity to address these swiftly.
Create Opportunities For Team Bonding
This can be anything from a dedicated ‘team building’ day to simply encouraging your staff to socialise after a meeting. It’s important that employees don’t feel that the activities are forced or make them feel uncomfortable in any way but providing people with the opportunity to get to know each other better can play a big role in cultivating a sense of camaraderie and unity and definitely increase the sense of trust and open communication.
You’d be amazed how the simple act of sharing a meal together can make people feel more connected so build in a monthly team lunch and watch those connections grow.
Address Conflict Swiftly & Proactively
As in all relationships, there will sometimes be times when people don’t agree or see eye to eye. As a leader or manager, it’s important to be close enough to your teams to recognise when this is happening , not allow it to escalate and address issues swiftly and proactively.
A good manager is able to act as a mediator and, depending on the situation, address the sources of conflict in an open group discussion or have confidential one on one conversations with their team members. It’s important to give people the opportunity to air their grievances so long as there’s a plan for resolution. Remember it all comes down to trust and communication.
Share Information Openly
Keeping your team well informed is more than just sharing the information they need to do the job. The more information you can share, the more people will feel empowered, have a greater sense of purpose and ultimately they will trust you more.
Sharing the company’s goals, values, strategies and vision are all great ways to instil that sense of belonging. But it can also be a two way street: encourage team members to share information when they have been at a conference or on a course. It all goes a long way to helping people feel valued and included.
This is such an important, but often overlooked, means of increasing connection and happiness amongst people at work. Celebrate successes large and small! Build it into your regular face to face meetings. Have a regular agenda item where everyone has to highlight one thing that they’ve been grateful for that week. And just remember to thank people for a job well done or for an act of kindness or support.
As these tips highlight, increasing the sense of connection at work isn’t as difficult as it might at first seem and the benefits for everyone far outweigh the effort.
At Head Strong Workplaces we regularly facilitate team building sessions that aim to to build positive, supportive and connected teams, including our new workshop, Social Connection: Finding Your Village.
We can even help you do a Team Health Check to give you the opportunity to develop genuine engagement and connection with your staff.
If you would like further support in your organisation to develop a better connected, healthier, happier workforce, give the team at Head Strong Workplaces a call today on 0438 770 850 or email us at email@example.com.
* (Oswald et al. 2015; The Value Of Happiness In The Workplace: Zelenski, Murphy & Jenkins 2008; The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Lyubomirsky, King & Diener 2005; Does Happiness Promote Career Success?: Walsh, Boehm & Lyubomirsky 2018)