Skip to main content
Blue @ Work

4 benefits of encouraging social connections at work

For in-person, remote or hybrid settings.

This article was last updated Feb. 17, 2023.

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.

While time spent at work is inevitable, the 90,000 hours is illustrative of how important it is to retain and hire employees who are passionate about their work or who have a desire to develop in their careers.

We realize this isn't always the case for everyone, and that is where social connections — the relationships your employees form in the workplace — come into play. Encouraging and fostering social connectedness in your workplace can create a sense of fulfillment for your employees that is key to success.

Social connections can enhance your current well-being program

According to 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 typically enjoy coming into work.

WATCH: Top well-being priorities for 2023

Find out which well-being priorities are most valued by other employers, what priorities the well-being team at WebMD® recommends focusing on and how you can integrate well-being successfully into your workplace in 2023. Register to watch the webinar.

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, morale and irritability. However, when employees foster strong connections at work, it can help keep those emotional and behavioral conditions from flaring up. Often, those connections start during conversations in the breakroom, team happy hours, social get-togethers and more.
  2. Increased engagement and loyalty to your company.

    According to, employees with friends or social connections at work tend to be more engaged, loyal workers. While your employees are spending 90,000 hours at work in their lifetime, they are experiencing many of life's biggest moments alongside their coworkers — such as the expansion of families, promotions, or loss of friends or family members — 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 ways your employees can improve upon their cognitive skills through socialization (even remotely) are calling and using email or video conferencing during meetings or social meetups 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 relationships help motivate behaviors of friendship, acceptance, trust and being a part of a group.

Ideas for encouraging social connections at work

Whether your workplace is fully remote, in-person, or a hybrid of both, there are opportunities to socially re-connect teams and build upon current relationships. We've put together a list of ideas to get you started.

  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-departmentally on the work they are contributing to 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 individuals, 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 you to show your employees you appreciate them. It might be easier than you think with just a thoughtful message or a handwritten note.
  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 holistic approach to accommodating 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.

"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," said Gould.

Reach out to a Wellmark well-being consultant at Send Email to start the conversation and find solutions that address your specific workplace well-being goals.

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 Send Email.