This week I’m sharing why it’s important that we enhance connections at work and how to make that happen in pandemic times.
Think about it, if people feel disconnected then they get stressed and fed up, they feel undervalued, struggle to cope or feel isolated. If that happens how will that impact how they feel about their job or their manager?
On this podcast episode I share 6 ways I managed to keep my old corporate team connected and working well even with the toughest of bosses and stressful working conditions and that was before I knew about the psychology of connection!
6 Ways To Enhance Connections at Work
We spend a lot of our time at work, so the relationships we have whilst at work can have a positive or negative impact on our stress levels, performance and happiness levels.
You only need to think about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – Where belonging, safety and friendships comes straight after the basic human needs and it’s an important factor in motivation too. We need to be connected and have that feeling of belonging. That’s not just in personal lives but in work lives too.
Connection is also included in Mind’s 5 Ways to Wellbeing. Being social creates we need interaction with others. When we promote strong connections in the workplace then it can have a positive impact on happiness and performance.
How Happiness is Important in Reducing Stress in the Workplace
Listen in where I share how happiness is important in reducing stress and how it makes that happen too and why it’s important to ensure that the connections at work you do arrange are attractive to people.
I’m always talking about how stress and pressure increases presenteeism, absences, and as we head into January we need to remember that this is prime time for people leaving their jobs. All that New Year, New Start thing, people don’t want to put up with being miserable in their jobs, or feeling alone or unsupported. If they feel like that, they will look elsewhere – even in times like now where there’s a lot of unemployed and risks of redundancy, people will still look for another job. So don’t sit back and be complacent about this.
I talk on the podcast some more about complacency – employees who have friends and social connections within work tend to be more loyal and more engaged at work. That’s what we want isn’t it? Social connection provides a sense of unity in the office, that creates a place of trust, loyalty and respect.
I once worked for a director, when I managed his support office. He was known for getting results, but was also incredibly difficult to work for – demanding, particular and sexist.
However, the team I had, we pulled together, we created the connections at work to get us through the tough times.
How My Team Enhanced Connections at my Work
Some of the things we did back then – I now realise just how important they were, because since then, I’ve trained in the neuroscience, psychology, attachment areas, I can see exactly why it worked. Let me share what we did and how that can be adapted into what you can do too – even during the pandemic.
Supportive Connections at Work Reduced Feelings of Isolation
There was support by collectively talking and sharing our difficulties with that difficult boss.
Many of us were in the same office, but not all of us, and we had opportunities when he wasn’t in to – well honestly – moan, complain and share. However it’s proven that not just talking about out issues is supportive and helpful, it’s also good to know we’re not alone in the situations. Create time for discussion and look at what’s difficult – what’s not going well. This is also an opportunity to share what does work. One of the guys had an amazing at changing the subject and appearing to answer his demanding questions, without answering it.
Social Time Enhanced our Connections at Work
We regularly went to the pub on a Friday – there was one below our office and so it was called the lower meeting room! Now I know we can’t all go the pub anymore, and even without lockdown, remote working teams need different ways to connect – not everyone drinks – so I’ve worked with organisations who are sending little parcels of tea bag, coffee sachet and biscuit and asking employees to join for Tea at Three on Tuesday or something like that. Be mindful of those who need to collect children or who can’t join at 6pm at the end of the work day because of other commitments in the home.
Keeping Fit Enhanced the Connections
Some of the team would go to the gym together after work, or go cycling. They didn’t particularly cycle fast apparently, it was another opportunity for chat, offload, put the world to rights. It was a connection time. Now I know it’s so much harder now with people in remote working situations and distancing, but you can encourage sharing of wellbeing / fitness challenges and activities. Share best picture from their walk – a remote walking club perhaps – a distance running club – ask them obviously – this is always my message – that I will bore you to death with, but these are ideas for starters.
How Laughter Enhances Connections at Work
Laughter is incredibly stress reducing and creates connections. This man we worked for was extremely particular and when he was visiting anywhere he had things planned to the finest degree. What the chauffeur would do, where they would park, who he would speak to. I once took an itinerary and basically ripped it to pieces with my sarcasm. I had them driving him up the steps into the foyer and things like that – obviously you had to be there at the time but it was funny – possibly a bit naughty but funny. We found ways to laugh even through the toughest of days. So what can you do – to create fun and laughter that promotes connection – a quiz / joke club / share the worst story about particular topics, their most epic fail.
Increase Positivity so that You Enhance Connections at Work
All the staff came to when they were struggling or when he’d been particularly awful to them. Whilst listening and supporting and soothing the situation, I often would walk down that corridor, take a deep breath, pull my shoulders back before walking into the office with a big smile on my face. Doesn’t mean I necessarily felt that way but I was leading positivity from the front. I didn’t realise at the time that these things can be contagious and setting a tone for positivity can – almost create an air of positivity. We have what’s known as mirror neurons in our brain that do what they say – they mirror the mood or situation we’re in – so if you’re leading and you smile, jolly along, use a sing song type voice you can take people with you on the positivity platform. Doing this encourages positive conversations and interactions, rather than negative ones. We really can change the mood like this.
Sharing Breaks Enhances Connections at Work
We used to bring in cakes and biscuits and sandwiches – you’ve probably done the same – when you used to be in an office. Now obviously these will need to be at home / distanced etc. But you can still arrange to sit down and share together. Maybe a weekly team breakfast can work and add some fun into that too.
Being Kind Enhances Connections at Work
Watch the John Lewis Christmas advert – it’s demonstrating the need for a little kindness and I talk more about this on the previous episode about How Kindness increases performance. Find ways to spread kindness. A thank you note, a well done email, a bit of ‘this was great this week’ on some of your calls / meetings / newsletters or weekly round up notifications.
The most important thing about Connections at Work
The most important thing thought about connections – give this your undivided attention. If you’re having lunch. Have lunch. That’s all.
If you’re having tea on Tuesday – do just that. No multi-tasking please.
When you give the connection time your undivided attention, you’ll enhance their feel good chemicals and your own.
To finish, building connections in the workplace doesn’t mean we have to be best friends with everyone, but it is about creating an environment where people feel included, connected, supported so that there is trust, belonging and mutual respect. Connections further enhance wellbeing by creating feelings of being valued and that improves self esteem and self worth. That’s got to be good for the individual but also for your organisational wellbeing plan
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