Here's a question. Would you rather work at a company where you have good relationships with your co-workers that can even turn into friendships, or for a company where the extent of those relationships ends at a conversation about the weather by the water cooler? It seems like a pretty obvious choice.
The workforce is becoming increasingly decentralized as a result of COVID-19, and this social interaction in the workplace is more challenging. With work-from-home orders easing up, companies are now faced with the question about how they're planning to work. Will they go fully remote or hybrid? Are they going to send their employees back to the office full-time? Whatever they decide, there's a strong case to be made about the importance of workplace socialization as a key motivator for teamwork and productivity.
Colleague playdates: why they really matter
Oh, so you thought playdates were just for kids? Please. Prioritizing a workplace "social life" will help your company improve employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention, whether that's through brainstorming sessions, training days, or social activities like teambuilding or company parties.
The pandemic has had a significant isolating effect on everyone, including knowledge workers
With face-to-face interaction being conducted through a digital medium, employees are feeling more disconnected from one another and from their company than ever before. According to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace report, employee engagement dropped significantly during the pandemic to just 20%—meaning that 80% of the global workforce felt disengaged and disconnected from the companies they worked for.
One of the best ways companies can try to drive this engagement up is by building a strong workplace culture. Giving people a sense of purpose and, maybe more importantly, a sense of belonging, plays an important role in how attached they feel to their company. This also determines their levels of job satisfaction, which rests with the ability to build positive working relationships that go beyond the walls of the conference room. It's no surprise, then, that 73% miss socializing with their colleagues!
Smells like team spirit - socializing builds a feeling of belonging
Googler, Amazonian, TravelPerker... Many of the world's coolest companies (and yes, we totally belong on that list) have long been working on building a very clear sense of belonging and pride within their company cultures.
A feeling of belonging is actually one of the strongest drivers in employee motivation. It's what makes your employees feel like part of something bigger, want to go above and beyond for their teams, and enjoy collaborating with their coworkers. It's a way to help them build trust with each other and with your organization. All of that ramps up their productivity, and your employee retention.
Workplace friendships between team members are a huge part of that. And what better way to get the ball rolling on reinforcing a friendly work environment than through team-building activities? Check out our suggestions for some of the best team-building activities here. They're great for relationship building, breaking the ice among existing colleagues and new hires, as well as for creating your own "social norms" that make your team unique. Remember, it's about more than just creating opportunities for small talk—it's about helping them build memories together that form the foundation of who they are as a group.
Having fun at work is a side of wellness you might not have thought about
When you think about wellbeing perks in the workplace, it's normally all about subsidized gym memberships, yoga classes, and vacation bonuses. But there's actually a lot more to it than that! Taking care of an employee's mental health should also form part of this package.
Some great companies (TravelPerk included!) are giving employees access to therapy platforms like iFeel. But that's one, admittedly pretty major, piece of the puzzle. Another part of that is socialization! Medical studies have actually shown that having positive workplace relationships, and even friendships, leads to better work morale and ultimately to better health for happy coworkers. That's why your corporate culture should encourage old and new employees to build these relationships outside of your hybrid or physical office. Workplace friendships shouldn't begin and end in the break room!
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