The great Greek Philosopher Aristotle was the first to deduce that humans are social animals. Psychologists and sociologists agree that humans thrive best when around others. A man’s social life is one of the most influential aspects that shape our mind, physique, and general health. Furthermore, living in isolation could result in mental and physical degradation.
The trust and confidence we create from social interactions have been the foundation of successful teams, especially in the workplace. Work connections help us collaborate and produce exceptional outcomes. Professor Matthew Lieberman, author of the book “Social: Why our Brains Are Wired to Connect,” contends that our need to connect is a fundamental personal need, like the need for food, water, and oxygen. Humans suffer when social bonds are threatened or severed.
Hence, workplace connection is crucial since people spend a considerable time in the office most of their lives.
Workplace connection may mean differently to each organization. To some, it means that all team members are on the same page regarding the tasks. For others, it means the team members share an emotional bond and function as a “family at work.”
It doesn’t involve compelling team members to act a particular way or fit a different mold of connectedness. Instead, it’s about cultivating ways of building connections organically over time. It’s a learning experience because it involves uncovering what projects, goals, or values connect with someone else. Empathy plays a significant role in making this happen.
A recent study by the University of Warwick, Department on Economics, on the effects of human connection in the workplace, showed that people with good connections are happier, more engaged at work, physically healthier, and less stressed. These workplace connections help people learn, stay loyal, and engage in work tasks. Simple encounters in the pantry, short conversations at the water cooler, or a greeting while passing a colleague are opportunities to connect and play a critical role in developing a sense of team belongingness.
Contrarily, less opportunity for work interactions requires the creation of ways to connect team members. The remote and in-office workplace arrangement or the hybrid environment may challenge establishing interconnectedness among colleagues due to distance or physical absence. Still, with a bit of effort from supervisors and managers, everyone benefits from it in the long term.
Building and fostering workplace relationships and connections and in our personal lives take time, focus, and maintenance.
Here are some insights to help you create and sustain workplace connections:
(A) Ask. Get to know your coworkers about how they are and their weekends, and be interested in them personally.
(B) Be Open. Open up about your life and allow them to do the same.
(C) Check-ins. Incorporate a quick check-in where everyone quickly shares how they are doing before meetings start.
(D) Details. List down the details on a notepad about what you hear, names of family members, hobbies, and birthdays and add them to your contact information.
(E) Efficient time. Spend time with colleagues to have coffee or lunch virtually. When working effectively, it’s even more critical to plan a time to connect with your colleagues.
(F) Use a 1:1 Form – With direct reports, fill out a 1:1 form when you meet with them to update you on what is occurring in their lives.
According to Wildgoose’s 2021 Workplace Friendship & Happiness Survey, people with good friends at work are more likely to be dedicated to their job. Additionally, team members who report having friends at work have higher productivity, stay longer, and express job satisfaction than those who don’t.
Workplace connectivity is more profound than the average working relationship. It involves getting to know someone deeper, including hobbies outside of work, essential people, and where they live.
High-performing employees tend to have deep connections across organizational levels. They have colleagues willing to help them with a task or problem or share information. Creating and maintaining good workplace connections with colleagues contribute to completing the job faster.
Gallup’s US research team found that managers are responsible for most of the variance in worker engagement metrics. They define engaged employees as enthusiastic, involved, and committed to their work and workplace.
Hence, team member engagement is a critical workplace benchmark due to all the benefits of high engagement levels. Gallup research firm emphasizes the listed improvement from a highly engaged workforce:
Just like strengthening other areas of personal relationships, workplace connection needs constant nurturing. Several factors make or break meaningful working relationships in the organization.
More than ensuring that your colleagues understand your message, open and honest communication significantly impacts working relationships. It involves the use of tone, emphasis, and choice of words.
Good, open, and honest communication is the basis of any healthy relationship, including workplace connections with colleagues.
Gallup research firm has concluded that consistent communication — personally, online, virtually, over the phone, or electronically — affects worker engagement. For example, team leaders or managers who conduct regular team meetings have more engaged members than those teams whose managers don’t keep regular meetings with them.
However, mere job-related topics discussed during meetings are not enough to maximize worker enthusiasm. The research also revealed that team members value managers genuinely interested in their roles and responsibilities at work and their lives outside work.
Thus, face-to-face interaction is the most effective way to develop a positive relationship between colleagues and bosses. It concludes that authentic human connections remain critical to workplace productivity, engagement, and success.
Several studies prove that authentic human connections in the workplace remain the topmost aspect of work. While automation may be the focus of many companies, the World Economic Forum 2018 Future of Jobs analysis highlights the demand for human skills with the impact on jobs that emerged during the pandemic. These skills sets are in demand when looking for new hires or developing the current workforce:
Accordingly, these skills can be learned and practiced as they are considered the core skills to the role of effective communication in the organization.
Technological upgrades are critical, but people with these essential traits must carry out marketing campaigns and broader PR audiences by managing these innovative tools. Organizations need human brains to perform judgment, logical thinking, problem-solving skills, empathy, compassion, etc., to know how to use them most effectively.
Moreover, “Soft Skills” also matter a lot. While logical thinking and analysis are used in solving complex organizational problems, soft skills manage critical company management, such as issue management, risk mitigation, and crisis communication. It also includes creativity, PR ethics, privacy, stakeholder relations, employee recognition, reputation, etc.
According to Dan Schawbel, author of Back to Human: How great leaders create connection in the age of isolation, digital technology has created the illusion of connection in online interactions. It creates distractions making people less productive, less engaged, and lonelier. The research revealed how many people reported workplace loneliness in 2021.
Workplace issues such as team loneliness and relationships require authentic human connections that support work colleagues. Team members need to feel valued in the organization. Simple nudges such as inviting coworkers to have lunch together, recognizing good performance, giving praise, celebrating birthdays, or finding personal interests can start positive relationships. These little gestures in the workplace can create a healthier, more supportive company culture, thus, increasing productivity, improving performance, and fostering loyalty among team members.
Based on the findings, genuine human connections remain the most crucial aspect of harmonious relationships at work. This human aspect fosters camaraderie and positive collaboration among team members. A team of happy workers produces satisfactory performance, propelling towards achieving the company goals efficiently.