Everyone loves working in an organization where they feel connected with their coworkers. It makes the workday—and life—more enjoyable. Having a team culture that places a high value on connectedness also increases collaboration and contributes to the overall success of the company.
This guide covers the importance of building this kind of culture and six best practices to make it happen.
Loneliness in the workplace is a huge problem—and growing. Cigna’s Loneliness and the Workplace 2020 U.S. Report found that 41% of men and 29% of women feel lonely at work.
The survey found that workplace loneliness contributes to:
Lower quality work
While these things impact the overall success of the company, combating loneliness in the workplace is an ethical issue, too. As a manager, you have a responsibility to make sure the workplace is a supportive environment for your employees’ mental health.
The easiest and most impactful way to do that is to facilitate a culture of connection. Coworkers who feel connected and cared for show:
Higher workplace satisfaction
Higher team collaboration
Increased retention rates
The most important benefit, however, is that workplace connection has a tremendous positive impact on a person’s entire life. After all, the average individual spends 90,000 hours of their life at work. If an employee’s work-life feels lonely, then there’s a good chance they feel lonely the rest of the time, too.
On the other hand, a meta-analysis published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review found that someone who feels socially connected at work is more likely to have better mental health as a result.
Building a culture of connection starts with individuals who actively value relationships and inclusivity.
Company leaders set the tone for company culture. If your managers organize team lunches, value and embrace diversity, encourage conversation, and do other things to show they prioritize relationships, employees are likely to mirror them.
Banish the thought that casual conversation before a Zoom meeting is a productivity killer. The space before everyone hops on the call—that 2-3 minutes—is crucial for strengthening relationships
Don’t underestimate the power of a non-cheesy icebreaker or team-building exercise to bring coworkers closer. The right activity helps people get to know each other better and starts things off on the right foot. Here are 20 icebreakers that fit the bill.
Want to encourage coworkers to reflect on ways to improve your company’s culture together? Download this quiz and have teams work together to complete it ahead of your next staff meeting.
According to a study from Old Dominion University, employees in STEM fields who are ethnic minorities and don’t have coworkers from within their group experience fewer equal opportunities at work and less satisfaction with their social environment in the workplace. However, when members of that group increase to at least 10% of a company’s staff, those negative effects disappear.
Starting a new job is stressful. On top of having to learn new processes and office norms, employees may feel excluded from long-standing social groups. Help ease the transition for new hires by including networking opportunities in the onboarding process. Introduce new staff to helpful tools like employee networking software so they can understand who’s who and who does what in just a few clicks.
The coronavirus pandemic and shift to remote working has naturally led to an uptick in video conferencing. While scheduling more Zoom meetings, online team collaboration sessions, and virtual happy hours might seem like it will help increase workplace connection during this time, many are finding that it actually contributes to increased loneliness and mental exhaustion.
While you can’t nix video conferencing altogether, these ideas can help reduce “Zoom fatigue”:
When possible, hold meetings by phone
Give employees the option to turn off their video
Allow for casual chatting at the beginning of meetings so coworkers can check in with each other
Make social video conferencing events like coffee chats and happy hours optional
Try doing more work in shared documents where coworkers can leave notes and attachments for each other
Use an office messaging system like Slack
If you want to build a culture of connection at your company, chances are you’re already off to a good start. As a company leader, your personal values and choices have a ripple effect, so if you’re taking small actions each day that prioritize people and connections, then your employees will begin to follow your lead.
Implementing a few best practices will help speed up the process. Before you know it, you’ll have an office full of employees who feel valued and included, making the workplace a more nourishing environment for everyone.