It is universally known that people need each other. We all have an innate desire for community and connection, especially within our careers. Because a large part of our time is spent with coworkers and colleagues, it is important for employees to plug in with the people around them. Doing so creates a healthier work environment and stronger team, improves communication, and increases the well-being of every employee. However, for many people, this is a challenge. In some work environments, it can be difficult to establish relationships with coworkers for a number of reasons. If you feel disconnected from your coworkers and want to improve your workplace relationships, read on for answers on developing a stronger social connection with your work community.
Defining Social Connection
Before we provide solutions to increasing social connection, you must understand the definition of it.
Social connection is a subjective feeling of closeness to the people around you.
This inclusive definition recognizes that you could have 100 friends yet still have weak social connections. Or have very few friends yet have strong social connections. It’s all about how you perceive your connectedness and belongingness.
Why is Social Connection Important?
Building social connections is crucial for several reasons. It is key to physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Most of us think of nutrition, exercise, and sleep when we think of well-being; however, did you know that social connection is just as important? Those that have strong social connections tend to feel less anxious and depressed. In addition, they may have higher self-esteem and empathy.
In the workplace, having a strong social connection with colleagues is vital for the functioning of your work and the business overall. Support and encouragement from the people around you increase your work ethic and execution. Ultimately, there are many personal and professional benefits to creating social connections within the workplace!
How to Increase Social Connection
Two primary methods for getting socially connected are Mentorship and Networking.
Mentorship is when an individual attains guidance and advice from a more experienced person in the company. Does your organization have a mentorship program? If so, give it a try. This is a great way to connect both professionally and personally. If not, find ways to connect with potential mentors. You can connect to others in professional organizations on platforms like LinkedIn, internal social apps like Slack, or in-person. Finding someone who will help you grow professionally and personally is important. In addition, having a mentor has been found to improve mental health by offering an avenue of trust, openness, and connection. Overall, it is a great start to gaining more social connections.
Networking is another great opportunity to make peer-to-peer connections. It’s important to feel socially supported in the workplace. Having work friends can increase your feeling of belongingness within your organization. To network, start by taking the time to say hello to your coworkers, ask how they are doing, and try to find commonalities. No worries; you can still build connections virtually if you are working remotely. You can start by turning on your camera during virtual meetings. Seeing each other’s faces can increase the feeling of connectedness and humanize the connections. Another suggestion is creating channels in slack to share interests. Here are a few examples: #teamfitness, #workplacepets, #foodies. Networking is a great way to get more involved and can help you feel more connected and supported in your company.
Moving Forward with Workplace Well-Being
Creating social connections can be an intimidating and challenging task to take on, especially if you work virtually. It can be challenging to develop strong relationships with coworkers and to feel belonging within your company. However, through the suggested steps described above, you will be prepared to start creating social connections that will ultimately help you feel more supported and connected with the people you work with.
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