By Elle Balchin, Rehabilitation Consultant – OT
In recent years, there has been a real rise in the culture of “hustling”, which is no-doubt furthered by social media dominance and praise of multi-business moguls, hard-core entrepreneurs and the “independent woman” movement. While all these things are well intentioned and certainly look to support women in business and people who are striving to succeed, there is an insidious, underlying message that in order to be successful in business and in life, you need to be able to go it alone.
Simultaneously, there is mounting scientific evidence that we as a society are feeling more isolated, and that the increasing experience of loneliness is manifesting in adverse effects on physical and mental health outcomes. Coincidence? I think not.
Decades of science says we are hardwired for connection – the human brain is wired for socialisation, and in the absence of authentic connection we suffer. As a species, we have historically derived strength from our collective ability to plan, communication and work together. A sense of belonging and connection leads to better engagement (in whatever task is at hand), which ultimately results in better productivity and outcomes.
Adults who work fulltime spend a good portion of their time in the workplace, which is why workplace relationships and feeling genuine connection and belonging in the workplace is so important. How can we better nurture staff connection for better engagement and results? I’m glad you asked:
- Create a watering hole.
One of the easiest ways to encourage staff to socialise is to make a space to do so. Whether this is a communal kitchen or lunch area or set of couches to share coffee at, having a space for people to go and take time away from their desks during breaks (without getting penalised for doing so) is a great way to encourage people to talk to one another and build those workplace connections.
- Celebrate together.
Finding reasons to celebrate and making an effort to include everyone in this is another great way to foster moral and connections in the workplace. Get together for cake on birthdays, take time during staff meetings to celebrate staff achievements, decorate the office for holidays – anything to introduce that little bit of novelty and fun that people can share in.
- Ask how people are doing.
And genuinely listen to the answer. Simple as that.