While aligning jobs to your strengths is pivotal, Dr. Hallowell believes that human connection is the most powerful tool to create positive and happy workplaces. Creating authentic and supportive bonds between workmates helps people feel excited, inspired, comfortable and confident all of which contribute to feelings of well-being, as well as actual productivity. Many other researchers agree:
- It has been shown that having positive connections at work creates a sense of well-being that enhances mood, learning, attention, creative thinking and more holistic thinking (Seligman et al., 2009).
- As a result of their comprehensive studies of excellent organisations Gallup suggests 1/3 of the determinants of employee engagement are related to human connection.
- George Valiant has studies the lives of 268 men since the 1930’s, through all the highs and lows of their careers and family lives. The conclusion as to what predicts a full and successful life – “The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships with other people.”
So if human connections at work are so important, why is it today that we have lost touch with this and what can we do about it? According to Dr. Hallowell, too many people find genuine human connections just too risky and management by email too easy, with the result being that the people feel disengaged and dispassionate about their workmates and organisations.
Dr. Shine would suggest that these days:
“people don’t reach out any more. They hold back. They’re too worried ‘bout something bad might happen, or they’re in too much of a hurry. Or they think they have too many answers already and they’re not curious anymore, so they miss their big chance” (Shine, p.3).
While deep personal connections at work have been shown to be vital in creating employee engagement (see A Best Friend – www.howtobehappyatwork.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/a-best-friend), the good news is to make a happier workplace we don’t all have to run around making bosom buddies. It has been found that the spread of happiness can also occur from frequent more superficial face-to-face connections – as long as they are genuine (Christakis and Fowler, 2009). This means there are immediate actions we can take to create connections in our own workplaces.
Some Things For You To Try
So today, be a little courageous and make some real connections with those around you. Here are some things you can try to create positive connections in your workplace:
- Notice and react – take some time to notice something of interest about a workmate. It might be a photo or drawing on their desk, or an activity they did on the weekend. Ask questions, listen, and be curious to find the spark in that person. You will be amazed how rewarding it is to know you have made a person feel noticed and special.
- Share food – organising celebrations around food has a double benefit, of both nurturing the body and making people feel appreciated. Who doesn’t like to be spoilt on their birthdays?
- Have impromptu get-togethers. These are great for any occasion – whether you need to celebrate a success, cheer up a colleague going through a rough time, or boost the mood of the whole team. Going out for an unplanned coffee or beer after work can really make a person feel part of a team.
- The Foundations of Happiness – www.howtobehappyatwork.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/the-foundations-of-happiness
- A Best Friend – www.howtobehappyatwork.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/a-best-friend