As an HR professional, you need to constantly look for ways to boost employee engagement and productivity. Because research indicates most workers are not engaged (and many are actively disengaged), taking steps to address this issue at your company will result in a competitive advantage.
Some ways to boost engagement are fairly basic and intuitive. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to learn that making sure employees have the tools necessary for success tends to boost job satisfaction. However, there are steps you can take that might not be immediately obvious. Establishing a workplace culture where employees are encouraged to socialize is one of them.
It’s easy to assume that talking on the job leads to reduced productivity. Perhaps counterintuitively, however, evidence shows that promoting socialization at the office tends to make workers more productive and more engaged. It also helps reduce turnover. When employees have friends at work, they are less likely to pursue opportunities at other companies.
That’s why you should keep the following points in mind. By coordinating with management to implement these tips, you’ll create a working environment where people feel comfortable socializing with each other.
Organize Regular Activities
You probably already know that getting employees to socialize with their fellow coworkers can sometimes be easier outside of the office. Many organizations host seasonal events for this very reason. Employees need to spend time with one another in comfortable environments.
This is true. However, an occasional event or meetup might not be enough to deliver the results you want. It’s a better idea to organize activities employees can participate in regularly.
For example, perhaps a local restaurant holds a weekly trivia night. Members of your employer’s workforce might be interested in forming teams together. If they’re more athletically-inclined, perhaps they’d like to join a local softball league.
Those are merely two basic examples. There are many ways you can promote regular social activities among coworkers, including book clubs, regular charity work, and even movie nights. The goal is to make sure employees at your company aren’t merely socializing outside of work a few times a year. Socializing out of the office should be a regular activity.
Convey Your Values during Orientation
Starting a new job can be an intimidating experience for just about anyone. When you’re not familiar with your new employer’s policies and overall culture, you might not want to socialize too often during your first few weeks, worrying that’s not something the organization encourages.
Guarding against this is important. Even if employees learn later that socializing is permitted, they might still avoid engaging in too much talk with their coworkers if they started out thinking otherwise. The habit of not socializing will have already been established. Changing such habits may be difficult.
Thus, you need to make sure your onboarding and orientation sessions for new hires involve clearly stating that your company wants employees to spend social time with each other.
Show an introductory video with footage of employees talking to each other about topics other than work. Discuss the various social activities your employees participate in together. Let new hires know that allowing workers to have fun and connect with each other is one of your company’s major values. By addressing the issue from the start, you’ll make new employees feel much more comfortable socializing.
Make Social Opportunities Available
While it is a good idea to plan activities that let employees socialize with one another outside of work, you should also strive to promote socialization within the office itself. Luckily, you can do so in quite a few ways. Perhaps the decision-makers at your company are open to the idea of an office redesign. Employees will be more likely to socialize at work if they have access to an area in which to do so.
You might also consider what types of weekly activities you can schedule that don’t involve leaving the office. A game night (or in-office “happy hour” if you work at a hip, casual office) every week gives employees a good reason to stick around for another hour after close of business to get to know their coworkers.
If you have the space, you could even devote an entire room of the office to some form of social opportunity. Maybe an unused room could be turned into an in-office yoga studio.
Don’t overlook the value of taking these steps. While it’s probably not surprising that encouraging socialization at work boosts engagement, you also need to remember that it has a major, positive impact on productivity as well. These points will help you take advantage of it accordingly.