Being social is a fundamental part of human nature, without it we can become lost within an internal chaos that prevents us from moving forward and adapting to changes that happen around us. If socialising is a vital part of everyday life, why wouldn’t this ring true for the work environment too?
From my experience, establishing a social structure within the workplace is an imperative component in achieving a productive, hardworking and happy organisation. It extends far beyond going for a drink or bite to eat after work with colleagues, to include how colleagues and even management interact with each other on a daily basis.
Establishing a social working environment enables you, as an employer, to create a cohesive and unified community, which is built upon a mutual sense of respect, trust and support. Within a business context, a social community provides a chance for colleagues to share their issues and concerns with their fellow co-workers, whilst also celebrating positive aspects within the organisation. It is important that this social community steers away from focussing on any negativity in the work environment regarding colleague working relationships, as this can have an adverse effect on team morale and actually discourage employee cooperation, resulting in dissension among the workforce.
Incorporating a social element into your organisational structure also serves as an effective method to help reduce stress and tension within the workplace. If the saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ is true, then facilitating the open expression of queries and issues regarding current work projects can only be a positive step forward. Work stress can often build through work overload, particularly from impending deadlines. If employees are encouraged to communicate with their colleagues and management through scheduled meetings or spur of the moment discussions, then the chances of stress levels escalating beyond control greatly diminishes, thus helping the workplace become more productive and efficient.
From a business perspective, if employees enjoy coming to work and have a high degree of job satisfaction, the effects of this will go beyond the internal dynamics of an organisation and filter out to how customers or clients perceive your business. With a social environment helping to facilitate a happy workforce, clients and customers are more likely to view your company as a positive, cooperative and professional organisation, consequently encouraging them to provide continued loyalty and speak favourably about your company gaining positive word of mouth. Conversely, if an organisation fosters a culture whereby employees feel isolated, overworked and unhappy in their job, then this will likely lead to the development of a negative reputation stemming from employee attitudes and behaviour.
Employers should not discount the importance of developing a social culture at work. Not only is it beneficial to your employees in terms of health, wellbeing and happiness at work, but employers will reap the rewards of having a more productive and dedicated workforce.
David Price is managing director of Health Assured.