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[People Matter] The power of connection and social bonds at work

Welcome back to the final episode of our Wellbeing series. Today, we dive headfirst into a question that reverberates through boardrooms and break rooms alike: What… View Article


[People Matter] The power of connection and social bonds at work

Welcome back to the final episode of our Wellbeing series. Today, we dive headfirst into a question that reverberates through boardrooms and break rooms alike: What is the role of an employer in cultivating social connections among employees?

Is social connection an employer’s concern?

We recognise that people will have different views about whether employers should encourage social connections among employees. This subject sparks lively debates, as social connection stretches far beyond casual coffee breaks. Some argue that personal relationships are individual prerogatives and not a concern for employers. Yet, let’s explore how these connections intricately weave the fabric of workplace culture.

Unveiling the impact: Beyond surface-level interactions

In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the need for belonging precedes even physiological requirements like food and shelter. Over years, social psychologists have delved into our intrinsic desire for connection, highlighting its significance. The imperative to belong is hardwired in human nature. Astonishingly, despite this innate need, 40% of employees express feelings of isolation at work, leading to dwindling organisational commitment and higher turnover rates.

Strong social ties go beyond mere interaction; they entail mentoring, support, and encouragement. Built on trust and shared commitment, these ties offer far-reaching benefits. Colleagues with strong bonds are more likely to champion promotions, offer networking assistance, and support one another during challenges. These bonds yield not only professional benefits but also contribute to employees’ overall well-being and happiness at work, generating a more positive work environment.

Why employers should care

Delving deeper, let’s consider why employers should consider social bonds as a strategic imperative:

  • Boosting wellbeing: Like an essential nutrient, social bonds contribute to overall employee wellbeing. They cultivate positivity, mitigate feelings of isolation, and provide vital support for mental health.
  • Driving engagement: Engaged employees are a driving force within organisations. They contribute innovative ideas, invest maximum effort, and demonstrate steadfast commitment. Social bonds significantly fuel this sustained engagement.
  • Elevating productivity: A robust sense of connection fosters seamless collaboration and effective communication, directly translating into heightened productivity levels.
  • Strengthening retention: Thriving social connections cultivate a familial workplace atmosphere. This sense of belonging often deters employees from seeking opportunities elsewhere.
  • Cultivating a positive culture: Workplaces that nurture social bonds radiate inclusivity and vibrancy. Such environments foster higher job satisfaction and an enhanced company culture.

Examples from retailers…
In our sector, many retailers are actively fostering social bonds among their employees:

Pets at Home: The “Better World Pledge” empowers colleagues to dedicate their time to support local communities, aligning with their commitment to pets and their welfare.

Fortnum & Mason: The company nurtures a sense of belonging through diverse activities like cricket matches with the Royal Household Cricket Club, creating opportunities for genuine connections.

Fatface: Hosting an annual family festival, “Rock up and Sea,” and encouraging group volunteering through their “Donate a Day” scheme, Fatface reinforces social bonds within their community.

A.F. Blakemore: Understanding the power of social connections, A.F. Blakemore encourages participation in team challenges, mentoring, and numeracy volunteering through the Blakemore Foundation to build confidence and team cohesion.

The Perfume Shop: Recognising the importance of connecting, The Perfume Shop operates an internal comms platform “The Nose,” enabling teams to connect with each other 24/7.

Lounge Underwear: With a focus on fun, Lounge Underwear hosts annual sports days (think egg & spoon races, space hoppers and tug-of-war) and encourages coworkers to share shoutouts through the #LoveYourLounger initiative.

Crafting social bonds: The employer’s playbook

Having understood the significance of social connections, let’s delve into strategies to foster these bonds:

  1. Culture of collaboration: Foster a work culture that champions teamwork, open communication, and cross-functional collaboration.
  2. Employee resource groups: Establish groups that unite employees around shared interests, providing resources and funding to nurture connections.
  3. Virtual team-building: In a remote or hybrid work environment, orchestrate online activities that promote team bonding across digital screens.
  4. Recognition and celebration: Celebrate milestones, achievements, and exceptional work to foster unity and belonging.
  5. Harnessing the power of volunteering: Research underscores the positive impact of collective volunteering on well-being and commitment. Organizing group volunteer activities effectively bolsters social bonds, mitigating the impact of social isolation on mental and physical health.

Weaving bonds that transform

As we navigate the intricate landscape of social connections in the workplace, one thing becomes increasingly evident: the undeniable impact of these connections. While opinions may vary on an employer’s role, the profound influence of social bonds on engagement, productivity, and overall satisfaction remains undeniable. Employers possess a unique opportunity to craft a workplace where social connections thrive, ultimately shaping a more engaged, productive, and fulfilled workforce

Part 1: Creating an awesome vibe with wellbeing

Part 2: Riding the wellbeing wave

Part 3: Pounds and sense: Spending on wellbeing

Part 4: Navigating financial wellbeing

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