Social connections – the key to happiness at the workplace?

As humans we all have this dire need of making social connections. Be it at work or in our personal lives, building connections is key for improving our mental wellbeing.  Work relationships are incredibly important for employee wellbeing. These relationships can affect an employee’s stress levels, productivity and general feelings of happiness. 9 in 10 Australian employees believe mentally healthy workplaces are important. Strong social connections can be the key to improve emotional wellbeing and mental health. 

A few advantages of building strong social connections are:

1. Less stress and increased happiness – Workplaces with high stress levels can expect more absenteeism, illness, low energy levels, low morale and irritability. 85% of workers believe employers should create an environment that proactively addresses stress in the workplace. Social connections and positive working relationships can help reduce some stress. Social connections help facilitate sharing, open communication and problem solving that helps mitigate stressful situations.

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2. Increased Engagement and Loyalty – Employees with positive relationships with their co-workers are found to be more engaged and loyal workers. This helps to foster a stronger sense of belonging and builds a strong company culture that emphasises respect, loyalty and trust. 61% Australian workers identify high team morale as the greatest indicator of employee wellbeing. Positive relationships at work help boost morale and increase feeling of loyalty towards one’s colleagues and team. This especially helps in a COVID world where morale can be maintained despite working remotely.

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3. Team Building – Social connections foster a better team spirit. It encourages more open and honest communication, collaboration and cohesiveness where you think and act as a unit, as opposed to working in silos. This helps with improving creativity, efficiency and productivity.

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Let’s take a look at some simple measures that can be deployed at workplaces to encourage and nurture stronger social connections.

1. Give Everyone a Voice – Allow all team members to have a voice and present their opinions and point of views. Think of your organisation as a community and help each other in sharing and reaching your goals. This is a great way to build supportive connections and foster new relationships.

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2. Celebrate Accomplishments – Celebrate achievements – big and small. doesn’t necessarily have to be something grand. An impromptu lunch gathering or going for after work drinks is sufficient to facilitate informal work friendships.

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3. Share A Meal – Bonding over food is probably one of the greatest enjoyments of life. A weekly team breakfast or sharing a cup of coffee in the mornings is a good way to foster a positive team spirit. Try to have a “no eating at desk” rule to allow for more social interaction.

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Getting to know your colleagues and employees can be a very fulfilling experience. From learning about their highs and lows to understanding how their personalities and backgrounds affect their performance at work, can be a rewarding experience. Social connections are key to a happier workforce and building a stronger work culture.