5 Ways To Promote Social Connection in Your Workplace
It’s an undeniable and tangible fact that loneliness is detrimental to your mental health and wellbeing, as well as your physical health.
According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, loneliness not only puts individuals at a markedly greater risk of developing depression or mental health issues, but also has a direct affect on health-related physiology, including blood pressure and immune system response.
The pandemic has been a decidedly challenging period, particularly considering the inflating levels of loneliness across the population. Frequent, extended periods of lockdown, a necessity in the face of the crisis, rendered vast swathes of the population isolated. Cut off from areas of social interaction – schools, universities, workplaces – people felt decidedly more alone, particularly if already living alone.
The data on pandemic-caused loneliness levels in the UK, as gathered by the Office of National Statistics, is clear. During the first month of lockdown in 2020, the equivalent of 7.4 million people said that their wellbeing was affected through feeling lonely. This represents a significant portion of the population. The return to the workplace will undoubtedly ameliorate the situation by allowing all-important social contact, but the mental health effects of prolonged periods of isolation will linger, and a percentage of the workforce will continue to work at least some days of the week from home.
There is significant space to think about promotion of social connection at the workplace in this transitionary period, with a view towards supporting employee wellbeing. We’ve already discussed the importance of mental health in the workplace in our recent blog – it’s a facet of the workplace environment that cannot be understated.
Specifically promoting social engagement has myriad benefits to your company, including, according to Forbes, increased happiness, less stress, increased engagement and loyalty, and a generally healthier life.
Here are 5 ways that you can promote social connection in your workplace.
Connecting departments isn’t always feasible in terms of the spatial layout of the workplace, but it can be a massive boost to your workplace culture to take the time to introduce employees working in different departments to each other. Not only does this foster a sense of social interconnectivity, but it also can be great for brainstorming and innovation.
Consider scheduling some inter-departmental team outings, group lunches or volunteer events. The increased levels of interaction between employees from across the company will not only be great for feelings of workplace belonging for individual employees, but it will also bolster and support your workplace culture.
Designate a Social Zone
Social zones are becoming mainstays of modern office design. These spaces are the social hubs of the workplace, offering an area for catching up, friendly exchanges, decompression and a break from the bustle of the rest of the workspace.
At Modus, we have a host of examples of fantastic social zones, including our teapoint and bar area for Checkout.com, or the beautiful kitchen and bar in the Alpha FX office. Whether it be a teapoint, a bar, a games area, or just a comfortable space to relax in, social zones should be a major facet of your office design, offering a chance for social interaction that will massively enhance your business culture.
Offer some Team Building Activities
Team building activities can be a great way to bring people together and promote positive social engagement. These don’t have to be all-day affairs; taking 30 or so minutes out of a day to play some team-based games, participate in ice-breakers, or just have a meal together can make all the difference when it comes to forging a strong team culture and heightening employee retention.
There are many examples of team building activities that could work for your business, many of which are listed by themuse.com. Mixing and matching some of these activities into the work day, maybe a few times a week, could be a great way to introduce some positive social connection and engagement into your office space.
Encourage Wellness Challenges
Wellness challenges are great ways to encourage employees to adopt healthier habits by suggesting small ‘challenges’ with a view towards improving health and wellbeing. Gamifying health challenges provides a proven incentive for team members to stick to their health and wellness goals. They can also be a great way of promoting social engagement and connection between teammates.
Some great social wellness challenges could include group workout challenges, group meditation or yoga sessions, or even the creation of small sports leagues within the company, forming departmental or inter-departmental teams to engage in some positive, fun competition. You can find more examples of wellness challenges from risepeople.com here.
Be a Force of Positivity
Perhaps the simplest and most important point on this list: as a manager, you must be a driving force for positive social interaction in the workplace. Making sure you set the standard and tone in going out of your way to creating a positive interpersonal culture is paramount. Use positive messaging, actively encourage and validate employees, promote laughter and express gratitude – it all adds up in creating a strong, positive workplace culture.
There are many ways to promote social connection in the workplace, and they can all be effectively utilised in building your workplace culture and supporting employee health and wellbeing. A successful company is founded on the bedrock of employee satisfaction and happiness; make sure you are taking the necessary steps to building a socially connected business.
Find out more about how you can create a workspace to attract top talent here.
Read out latest blog with our top tips to boost employee wellbeing and productivity here.