Nothing personal, it’s just business.
How often do we hear that phrase? Although it may sound good when whispered by cold-blooded gangsters in old mafia movies, modern business owners cannot afford to take the personal impact of work for granted.
Today’s world of work is personal. Companies across every industry are investing in the personal wellbeing and social health of their people on a scale we’ve never seen before. A large part of this is down to the mounting body of research that connects wellbeing and strong social connections with higher performance and lower absenteeism.
A prime example is this study led by the McKinsey Global Institute. Their research found productivity improves by 20-25% in organisations with connected employees. So not only is developing a better social support network good for individual health and group engagement, it also makes sound business sense.
Social health at work
Great working cultures depend on the individual and collective relationships between people. When people start to view their colleagues as friends, they give themselves access to a larger social support network. This helps to build resilience and stave off the threat of stress during particularly busy or challenging periods at work. People are less likely to throw a sickie and more likely to stick it out to get something important done.
Social culture is also a huge competitive advantage when attracting and retaining talent. This is the case for start-ups and multinationals alike. People achieve a greater sense of purpose when they feel part of a team cooperating side by side towards a common goal – and they perform better as a result.
The big challenge for all business owners is fostering social connections in an organic way. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that works for every company. But there are still plenty of opportunities to promote greater social health at work.
Here are a few ideas…
Focus on traditions
Most successful SMEs set aside at least one day each quarter for a company-wide meeting so that all team members can get together to see how the firm is progressing as a whole.
Why not use this day to promote better relationships between staff? Even if performance isn’t quite where it needs to be, this day provides an excellent opportunity to boost engagement and morale. Traditions are important and give us an excuse to get together and find out a little bit more about each other.
One idea is to dedicate the morning and early afternoon to the main discussion. After that, allow people to finish earlier so they can take part in a group activity. A quarterly Office Olympics tournament could be a great way to get colleagues socialising and forming better relationships.
Invest in shared experiences
Managers are responsible for creating an environment and opportunities that encourage close relationships; but the most effective programmes are designed and driven by employees.
A great long-term idea is to set up a company fund and explaining to staff that for every noteworthy achievement the company will donate a certain amount of money to the next team social event. It’s important that the team discuss what they’d like to spend the fund on amongst themselves.
Noteworthy achievements may include a big new client win, the completion of an excellent project from a team or individual, or even recognising somebody for staying late in the office a few nights a week. Every achievement can be arbitrarily valued by a manager and, if you want to go the whole hog, noted on a communal board in the office.
Make it personal
The key thing here is providing organic opportunities for staff to get together. Managers need to champion the idea of social events on an ongoing basis. This helps to get a collective discussion going. They should be viewed less like random team-building exercises and more like something the company just does.
Once a focus on social health gets ingrained in the culture, people start to feel so much more engaged every time they step into the office each morning. In fact, they look forward to it. They don’t feel the need to leave their personality at the door. They trust the people they work with and begin to understand more about each other’s roles.
That’s when teams really begin to gel and challenge themselves to achieve more.
Looking for more insights into the psychology of engagement at work? Give us a quick call on 0161 883 1149 to talk through your needs.