Click here to read the first, second, and third articles in the series.

We’ve seen the benefits of cultivating strong social connections on your teams in previous articles, but maybe as a manager you still don’t feel very motivated to schedule a weekly team lunch. Maybe as a team member you don’t feel like putting on proper clothes and driving through the traffic to the office.

This reluctance is expected. Our brains have readjusted to a new “social homeostasis”, where previously normal levels of social interaction may now be perceived as too much. To starved brains, coffee conversations with colleagues could feel like a level of social gluttony we’re not ready for.

But now is not the time to step back. The detriments of neglecting to cultivate social connection on your team are grave.

For individual team members who feel socially isolated and lonely, they can experience negative personal impacts such as:

  • Higher susceptibility to anxiety and depression
  • Higher risk of health issues
  • Slower recovery from disease
  • Potential increased antisocial behaviour
  • Negative impacts on learning and memory

Their work can also be negatively impacted through lower employee engagement.

This has a significant impact on the organisation through decreased organisational effectiveness. Disengaged, socially disconnected employees are detrimental to effective teamwork and collaboration.

And it harms the organisation through higher costs. Employee mental and physical health issues and disengagement increase costs through absenteeism, presenteeism, lower productivity and higher employee turnover. Some sobering statistics from Gallup:

  • A not engaged or actively disengaged employee can cost their organisation up to 18% of their annual salary in lost productivity.
  • 74% of actively disengaged workers and 55% of not engaged employees are actively looking for new employment. Replacing workers requires one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary.

The business case is clear. If you neglect cultivating social connection on your team, everyone loses.

In our final article in the series, we look at three strategies you can take to improve social connection on your team or throughout your organisation.

By Elizabeth Ross

Click here to read the final article in the series.

Sources:

Gallup. (2021a). Jim Harter. U.S. Employee Engagement Holds Steady in First Half of 2021. Retrieved from: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/352949/employee-engagement-holds-steady-first-half-2021.aspx

Gallup. (2021b). Vipula Gandhi & Jennifer Robison. The ‘Great Resignation’ Is Really the ‘Great Discontent’. Retrieved from: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/351545/great-resignation-really-great-discontent.aspx

Kareem Clark. (2021). The Conversation. The neuroscience behind why your brain may need time to adjust to ‘un-social distancing’. Retrieved from: https://theconversation.com/the-neuroscience-behind-why-your-brain-may-need-time-to-adjust-to-un-social-distancing-162075

Kohll, A. (2018). 5 Reasons Social Connections Can Enhance Your Employee Wellness Program. Forbes. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alankohll/2018/01/31/5-ways-social-connections-can-enhance-your-employee-wellness-program/?sh=5e9df1d8527c

Seppala, E. (2014). Connectedness & Health: The Science of Social Connection. The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Retrieved from: http://ccare.stanford.edu/uncategorized/connectedness-health-the-science-of-social-connection-infographic/

WillisTowersWatson. (2020). Leverage social connections to drive employee wellbeing. 2019/2020 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey Findings. Retrieved from: https://www.willistowerswatson.com/en-US/Insights/2020/02/leverage-social-connections-to-drive-employee-wellbeing

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