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Most of us spend most of our lives at work, which is why work relationships are vital to employee wellness. The workplace, be it physical or remote, and the relationships we form often becomes an extension of our family and outside-of-work friendships, which is why it’s more about simply getting along with colleagues.
We all crave human interaction and connection with others – it’s our species trait – and if you’re an employer that endorses a culture of “you’re here to work and not to make friends” we’d ask you to think again and reassess this mantra.
Work relationships can positively or negatively affect performance, both for the individual and in some cases the team. If a workplace is a lonely environment or negative relationships are the main dish of the day, this can have a serious effect on productivity, stress levels and general happiness, manifesting in poor performance and employee health.
If you haven’t familiarised yourself with Abraham Maslow yet, then check out his motivational theory and views on the hierarchy of human needs. The social psychologist highlights our overwhelming desire for a sense of belonging and how this can be a significant motivating factor in our lives. Therefore, having strong social connections and interactions really do make people healthier and happier which can be converted into positive performance at work.
At RE Recruitment, we subscribe to this philosophy and regularly witness the benefits of a positive social culture within the workplace. Here are just some of the perks of effective working relationships and how they can contribute to your employee wellness programme and fundamentally a successful, productive workforce:
More loyalty and engagement: Employees with positive connections become more motivated to perform at their best. Those employees with social connections and who make genuine friends at work are generally more loyal and engaged. In turn, this generates a strong culture based on trust, respect, loyalty and team cohesion, all of which are solid bases for cultivating collaboration, teamwork and innovation. Building a work environment that promotes social engagement and connection WILL improve your recruitment prospects, helping you to be regarded as a ‘go-to’ employer that cares about the workforce.
More health: Employees with positive social connections are usually healthier. Those with a strong social support network reduce the risk of depression, high blood pressure and other health problems. Some research also shows that people with a prosperous social life with meaningful relationships live longer, which is hard to ignore. This is why social interactions are so important for employee health – sick days reduce, productivity rises and you’ll witness a more energised workforce.
But take note, some people find it difficult, and somewhat intimidating, to form effective working relationships. There are many grey areas and boundaries to negotiate when it comes to forming bonds with colleagues on a personal level, which can be overwhelming for some. By encouraging social connections, providing platforms where employees can interact and promoting social and emotional wellbeing, employers can help this process.
More happiness: Relationships are vital for our happiness, support and self-esteem. Havard’s Study on Adult Development assessed 724 lives over 79 years and found that relationships significantly impact our happiness and life quality. They also discovered that it wasn’t the number of relationships that matter most, but the quality.
Less stress: We all know that a stressed employee is a less productive resource and generally stress leads to absenteeism, illness, prickliness and low energy, all of which can harm a team. Shawn Achor’s research shows that one of the strongest predictors of reduced stress and increased happiness is social connection. He also highlights that friendships promote happiness and reduce feelings of stress, therefore helping employees garner social connections at work can help reduce most workplace stress.
So, what to do to promote social connections in your workplace? Here are some ideas:
Encouraging a culture of wellbeing and wellness shouldn’t be regarded as a chore, but as time invested in your people and your organisation’s success strategy. Part of this journey includes developing productive social connections and enhancing employee social wellbeing. Admittedly, not everyone will be ‘besties’ or get along every minute of every day, and it’s more about promoting an environment of trust, mutual respect and belonging.
To assist with his process, think about how you can recruit the right people that gel with your culture. We’re here to help.