Social Connections in the Workplace: Why They Matter

Today’s Occasional Read:
Julianne Holt-Lunstad
Fostering Social Connection in the Workplace
American Journal of Health Promotion, v. 35, 2018
https://doi.org/10.1177/0890117118776735a

Every once in a while it’s nice to keep things relatively simple. I have read and written about some very complicated articles since I started this blog. Today, I decided to take a look at a short article about why we need social connections in the workplace.

This topic is timely, of course, as so many people (including nearly all my colleagues in the library) are working from home right now because of the coronavirus. This topic is also timely because I am serving on a committee at my library that is examining workplace culture and establishing a set of cultural norms for our organization. Since I volunteered for this committee, I have been asking myself a lot why workplace cultural norms are so important. This article was a good reminder of some of the answers to that question.

The science around social connections and relationships is pretty clear about their benefits. Social isolation and loneliness, each on their own, have been found to lead to physical and mental health problems, premature cognitive decline, and other things that make life unpleasant for people. However, it is those two factors working in tandem, meaning that a person is both socially isolated (lacks a social support structure) AND lonely (lacks sufficiently meaningful social connections), that really do some serious damage, especially if the person is experiencing this at work and it impacts the time and energy they can spend developing social connections outside of the office.

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