Everything is Brighter When You Feel Connected

mind at work

Sree Mitra

December 11, 2023

Author: Dr Steve Hickman

In today’s fast-paced, digital world, the importance of human connection in the workplace cannot be overstated. It is not just a soft skill but a fundamental element that fuels productivity, engagement, and overall job satisfaction. As we spend a significant portion of our lives at work, it’s crucial to foster an environment that nurtures and strengthens these connections. The importance of workplace connection has skyrocketed with the work-from-home phenomena during the pandemic, followed by the hybrid model that we all are grasping with, and trying to figure out the ‘right’ fit.  While that will continue to unfold and new ways of working will emerge, it is even more important to cultivate human connections in the workplace.

Here are some practical tips:

1. Open Communication:

Encourage open and honest communication. Create an atmosphere where employees feel safe sharing their ideas, concerns, and even personal experiences. Regular team meetings, one-on-one discussions, and feedback sessions can help in this regard. In the hybrid environment, leverage the times when your team is in-person to have these candid discussions. 

2. Active Listening:

Listening is often undervalued but is a key component of building connections. Actively listen to your colleagues, and when they speak, give them your full attention. This shows respect and empathy. Try not to multitask; checking emails while you are on a video call is not only rude but you may also miss some important information that is being shared with you. 

3. Team Building Activities:

Organize team-building activities or events outside of the office. These events provide an opportunity for employees to interact in a relaxed setting, fostering stronger personal connections. Take polls with your teams on their interests and make it about them. It doesn’t have to be taxing on the budget. Simple events like a pizza lunch, board-game nights, friendsgiving potluck, etc. get people energized and connected equally, if not more, than an expensive dinner at a fancy restaurant. 

4. Mentoring Programs:

Implement mentoring programs that pair experienced employees with newer ones. This not only helps in skill development but also creates a strong bond between colleagues.

5. Social Spaces: 

Create comfortable, inviting spaces where employees can relax and connect during breaks. A well-designed break room can be a hub for spontaneous interactions and conversations.

6. Empathy and Support: 

Show empathy and support for your colleagues during personal and professional challenges. Offering help and understanding builds a strong sense of camaraderie.

7. Collaborative Projects:

Encourage collaborative projects that require team members to work closely together. These shared goals can help in building a sense of unity and trust.

8. Employee Resource Groups:

Establish employee resource groups (ERGs) where like-minded individuals can connect based on shared interests, backgrounds, or goals.

Even going beyond these practical ways, it’s clear that leaders need to model the behavior they want to see. By demonstrating open communication, empathy, and a commitment to building connections, leaders can inspire others to do the same. Cultivating human connection in the workplace is an ongoing process that requires dedication and a genuine commitment to the well-being of employees. When people feel connected, they are more engaged, creative, and loyal. It’s a win-win for both employees and the organization, ultimately leading to a more positive and productive work environment.

In his 2022 report on “Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy laid out five essential elements that we are exploring in a series of articles. This is the last of those pieces. You can find all other blogs in this series here

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