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Blue @ Work

4 benefits of encouraging social connections at work

Socially distanced, of course.

90,000 hours.

The average amount of time a single employee could spend at work within their lifetime. 90,000 hours spent away from friends, family, traveling or volunteering.

Recent world events have put into perspective what really matters: family, friends, health and meaningful connections.

While time spent at work is inevitable, the 90,000 hours should be an indicator of just how important it is for your company to hire employees who not only fit culturally, but are passionate or happy about performing at least 80 percent of their work.

We realize that this isn't always the case for everyone. So that's where social connections — the relationships your employees form in the workplace — come into play. Put yourself into your employees' shoes. Could you imagine spending 90,000 hours of your life in a place where you don't enjoy the work or don't have great relationships with the people you work alongside every single day?

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The benefits of social connections

  • 78 percent of people who work 30-50 hours per week, spend more time with their coworkers than family.
  • 74 percent of employees surveyed who hadn't celebrated accomplishments with their coworkers said they were more likely to leave a job.
  • Emotional milestone experiences at work make people 81 percent happier, and 77 percent more valued.

Source: Entreprenuer.com

Social connections can enhance your current well-being program

According to Forbes.com External Site, strong social connections within the workplace are shown to make your employees happier and physically healthier, which translates into improved work performance. Think of an employee who has strong social relationships at work (with mentors/mentees, leadership, or peers) they are eager to help others and enjoy coming into work.

"Understanding how your employees feel at work – about your organization, their leader, and their peers – is an important step to supporting well-being," said Amy Gould, health and well-being consultant at Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. "Our Thriving Workplace Culture Survey is an excellent tool to not only do that but also get recommendations on how to support and improve both the health of your organization and that of your employees."

4 ways your employees (and workplace) benefit from social connections

When employers address all six areas of well-being with their employees, they become happier, healthier, more productive and less absent from work. So, when social well-being is met within your workplace, it's a win-win for everyone. Here's how:

  1. Less stress and depression.

    Have you ever seen an employee perform at his or her best when dealing with stress Opens in a new window, depression or burnout? The answer, likely, is no. If your workplace fuels high levels of stress, you can expect more absenteeism, illness, low energy levels, moral and irritability. However, when employees can foster connections at work, this can help reduce those emotional and behavioral conditions from flaring up. This includes allowing for conversations at the water cooler, team happy hours or social get-togethers and more.
  2. Increased engagement and loyalty to your company.

    According to Forbes.com, employees with friends or social connections at work tend to be more engaged, loyal workers. When your employees are spending 90,000 hours at work in their lifetime, they are experiencing several of life's biggest moments alongside their coworkers — expansion of families, promotions, loss of friend or family member — just to name a few.
  3. Exercise and improve upon cognitive skills.

    According to Psychology Today External Site, the three pillars of social contentedness related to brain health are social connectivity, networks and support. A few examples of how your employees can improve upon their cognitive skills through socialization (yes, even during isolation) are calling and using email or video conferencing with their coworkers.
  4. Sense of belonging.

    After physiological and safety needs are met, according to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, humans need love and belonging. Interpersonal relationship helps motivate behaviors of friendship, acceptance, trust and being a part of a group.

Bonus tips: Social connection ideas for when your employees return to work

We know a lot of companies currently have employees working from home or are furloughed until after the outbreak period. It will be an adjustment when employees return to the office — which is why we have created a list of ideas to socially re-connect and build upon current relationships when heading back to the office.

  1. Give everyone a chance to speak.

    We all go into a meeting and know exactly who will chime in first or control the commentary. Encourage management to gather input and feedback from employees who may not typically speak up in these settings. Additionally, allow for your employees to present cross-department on the work they are contributing to meet the company's goals. This is a great way to show your employees you care, support them and are committed to their growth and development as an individual, too.
  2. Celebrate milestones and accomplishments.

    Reach a new sales goal? Celebrate. If an employee announces they're expanding their family? Celebrate. If an employee gets promoted? You know what to do. Find ways to celebrate milestones, accomplishments and even the littlest of victories. It can make all the difference for your employees.
  3. Set up monthly coffee or lunch breaks.

    Food and coffee are all something your employees can bond over. Encourage employees to set up monthly coffee or lunch breaks to connect more deeply with individuals on their team or within the organization.

Need support? Our team of well-being experts are here to help

Here at Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, we know healthy employees are happier, perform better and are less absent from work — especially when your organization takes a more holistic approach to accommodate employees' changing needs.

We know your business and have insight and data on your employees that you might not have in-house. Our team of employer health and well-being consultants can serve as an extension of your workforce and provide expertise in creating engaging solutions to meet the unique needs of your employee population.

Every step of the way, our team can be your go-to source for finding the right combination of solutions — because one-size doesn't fit all.

Questions? Contact your authorized Wellmark account representative, or email us at blueatwork@wellmark.com Send Email.