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

In our Elite Team development programme, we have found that teams most commonly struggle with the following Elite Team practices: Continuous Feedback, Recognition and Collective Leadership.

All of these require you to know your team members well. How can I have a good feedback conversation with this person? How does this person like to be recognised? What are this person’s strengths so we can share responsibilities on this project?

You don’t get to know those things well through formal, agenda-focused meetings. You don’t get to know this through days of purely task-focused Zoom calls and MS Teams messages. It happens through good, old-fashioned social connection.

Unfortunately, some organisations see this as revolutionary. People need to feel connected to one another. Really? Aren’t we all just here to achieve our KPIs and get our bonuses?

No. And, if you need a business case for social connection beyond the individual benefits described in our previous article, here’s a compelling one:

Social connection creates an environment conducive to innovation and organisational learning. It provides individuals with social capital through a wider social network of both weak and strong ties:

  • A network of acquaintances in the organisation (weak ties) for access to new contacts and information, bridging silos and leading to innovation.
  • A network of close relationships (strong ties) that allows for exchanging knowledge on complex topics and building a depth of shared knowledge.

Social connection can increase organisational effectiveness:

  • Employees with higher empathy, trust, cooperative behaviour and emotion-regulation skills are better able to work effectively in teams and collaborate.
  • High social connection creates an inclusive workplace culture which leads to better teamwork and collaboration.

Social connection can help save costs:

  • Employees who are mentally and physically healthy result in lower absenteeism and presenteeism (being at work despite low productivity due to sickness, being overworked or being otherwise distracted) rates, thus reducing these costs.
  • The investment towards facilitating social connection for employees –an effective intrinsic motivator – is likely cheaper than increasing costly extrinsic motivators such as bonuses.

Social connection is a driver of employee engagement, which has many well-researched benefits for organisations:

  • Higher customer ratings
  • Higher profitability
  • Higher productivity
  • Lower employee turnover
  • Fewer safety incidents
  • Less theft
  • Lower absenteeism
  • Higher quality

If you or your team is feeling disengaged, focusing on social connection is key to getting re-engaged. If your organisation’s performance has been stagnating since new ways of work were introduced, investing in building social connections between team members should be part of your solution.

By Elizabeth Ross

Click here to read the fourth article in the series.

Sources:

Dunne, J. (2021). The Value of Social Connections in the Workplace. Virgin Pulse. Retrieved from: https://www.virginpulse.com/blog-post/the-value-of-social-connections-in-the-workplace/

Houston, E. (2021). The Importance of Positive Relationships in the Workplace. PositivePsychology.com. Retrieved from: https://positivepsychology.com/positive-relationships-workplace/

Pinnington, B.D. & Ayoub, R. (2018). The social foundations for innovation collaboration in business to business relationships. In: 27th IPSERA conference, 2018-03-25 – 2018-03-28, Athens. Retrieved from: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3023720

Sorenson, S. (2013). How Employee Engagement Drives Growth. Gallup. Retrieved from: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236927/employee-engagement-drives-growth.aspx

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