Why connection matters at work

A lack of human connection worldwide is becoming a big problem but why does it really matter at work? 

So glad you asked……if its research, stats and the business case for connection your are after, then you have come to the right place. 

Quite simply, we function best when we feel connected and part of a group, when we feel cared about and have a sense of belonging and trust. Connection & friendships drive engagement and productivity at work but also….. it helps our physical and mental wellbeing.

It almost seems unusual to explain why connection and relationships are important at work because intuitively for most people we know how good it feels to connect with people. But unfortunately in a work context, for many, we are still programmed to keep work and personal life very separate, do our job, keep our feelings and our humanness out of work, thanks to outdated societal models on how work is supposed to be (although Covid has certainly helped to crack some of those assumptions wide open).

And luckily things are changing. 

Covid has certainly renewed our appreciation for connection and it has also highlighted the detrimental effects on our wellbeing & on our work without human connection.

Did you know that strong social connections are one of the biggest predictors of long term happiness and conversely loneliness is considered a bigger health risk now than smoking or obesity…true story. The workplace has undoubtedly had a long history of feeling lonely for many people. Loneliness has become a new public health challenge and we are seeing places like the UK & Japan with their own Minister for Loneliness. 

And as Noreena Hertz – author of The Lonely Century puts it…”Clearly it’s not just our domestic and private lives that are making us lonely, so too is the way we now work.”

37% of Australians feel lonely at work and 40% feel lonely at work in the US (Lonely Century). At the same time 85% of workers globally do not feel engaged with their job and employee engagement is closely correlated to how connected employees feel to their co-workers and to their employer. 

In their book Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements by Tom Rath & James Harter (2010), they state that the single best predictor of employee engagement is WHO people are with rather than WHAT they are doing.

A study from The Myers Briggs Company on well-being in the workplace with 10,000 participants found that the relationships factor was consistently rated the highest aspect of well-being over the three years of research. The study goes on to say that having supportive, meaningful relationships is an essential element for people’s workplace well-being that organizations need to foster and individual employees can nurture.

Furthermore, the importance of well-being in the workplace is underscored by our findings that the higher the level of well-being a person is experiencing, the higher their commitment to the organization, job satisfaction, organizational citizenship behaviors and the lower their intention to leave or disengage with their current organization. This confirms again that the more friends you have at work, the longer you will stay with your company, a finding also confirmed by – Dan Schawbel, leading workplace researcher and author of Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation.



Still need more convincing….

The Gallup Employee Engagement Q12 survey ….studying 100,000 teams. Looking at how important friendship is to a companys’ success. They found by having at least one close friend at work it is one of the strongest predictors of productivity. As well as being more focussed, more passionate and more loyal to the organisation, having a close friend at work also means employees get sick less, suffer fewer accidents, change jobs less frequently and deliver better customer service.

So there are many benefits for the business, but what about connection and an individual’s physical and psychological health I hear you ask.…. Want to live longer and have an even better quality of life as you age?Through her massive research on social relationships, Professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad from Brigham Young University confirms that we can confidently say through scientific evidence, that having more and better relationships significantly predicts living longer. Professor Holt-Lunstad also says we need to take social connections just as seriously for our health as other factors as we know that having social connections also:

  • Decreases cellular aging
  • Decreases susceptibility to viruses 
  • Increases wound healing
  • Lowers cognitive decline as we age

Is that enough stats now?  as I am starting to bore myself and I am a research nerd??

Alright one just one more…

Feeling a bit down lately?

We have now hit an all time high with experiences of stress, worry, sadness and anger all setting new records according to the Gallup 2021 Global Study on Emotions. Don’t be too quick to blame Covid for these findings though as these numbers have been slowly increasing over the last 10 years.

And where do we spend the majority of our time??

Armed with all this information, do organisations not have a moral obligation to ensure we are fostering and encouraging  better relationships at work, to create greater awareness around the importance of connection and wellbeing just like our Good 2 Connect program?

So yes, it is safe to say we desperately need to connect better with one another and address ways in which we can connect better with ourselves for the sake of our wellbeing, our workplaces, and for everyone around us. 

Not only do we have a biological need to belong but we want to to feel heard, seen & accepted for who we are not what we do and at the same time having healthy self acceptance for ourselves. We all need to know that we are someone of value just because we were born and to know that we are all connected and on with this human journey together. 

By connecting with people at work who we trust we can begin to share more of who we are, reducing loneliness and bringing more richness to our lives. 


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