Social engagement insights in a changing workplace

This report on social engagement at work is part of the Vhi Health Insights series, and highlights the benefits of social engagement in the workplace and proposes strategies to improve the quality of interactions as the workplace evolves

With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the data for this research was gathered both before the outbreak and during the early restrictions in 2020.

The findings show the majority of employees reported formed strong friendships at work and placed a high level of trust in their colleagues. However, there were also high levels of dissatisfaction about workplace interactions, peaking in relation to wider relationships across the organisation, group messaging services, and organised corporate social events.

The findings show that the majority of social engagement in the physical workplace occurred organically by chance, at the water cooler, passing by desks or getting a coffee, underlining the importance of the location and design in future workplaces and the avoidance of siloed working.

The expert group that participated in the research identified the development of counterproductive ‘unwritten rules’ as adversely affecting social engagement and instilling employee dissatisfaction. Communication blind spots where corporate messaging is misunderstood, unclear or lacking can have a strong negative influence on the quality of social engagement. To counteract 'unwritten rules' such as not being seen to finish early or using social facilities during the working day, it is recommended to demonstrate clearly that the company culture supports sociable behaviour and engagement, and that this is communicated without ambiguity.

Research is accessed with thanks through the Vhi sponsorship of the CIPD Ireland HR Awards 2021

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