Over the years, psychologists have highlighted the urge to feel connected to others as a basic human need. It has been established that interpersonal interactions have a substantial impact on our mental health, health behaviour, physical health, and mortality risk. Likewise, the calibre of the social ties within an organisation greatly influences whether or not it and its employees succeed. It is essential that people feel linked to and supported by peers, subordinates, and leaders in any organisation. This in technical terms is known as ‘employee bonding’. Employee bonding occurs when coworkers get to know one another, develop their friendships, and improve their ability to work together. It further fosters relationships between coworkers, fosters respect for one another, and can result in a productive workplace environment with strong teams. Thus, employee bonding aids people to get to know each other better in a more friendly setting.
Since many workers spend more time with their “work families” rather than their real families, it becomes extremely important to understand the impact of employee bonding and positive work environments on their well-being and productivity.
Benefits of employee bonding and positive work environment
- Attachment to the Organisation
Various articles highlight the impact that social connections have on organisational commitment. One such study by Edward Wang suggested that employees who had a facilitative social bonding were willing to participate in the organisation, felt a sense of organisational ownership, and were willing to share a positive impression of the organisation with their friends (Wang, 2014). Moreover, workers who are happy with the standard of their interpersonal interactions at work are likely to be more loyal to the company. This can be increased if they have a sense of unity with their coworkers and feel that their supervisor is willing to listen to them.
- Boost productivity and reduce burnout
Productivity levels can be significantly impacted by employee bonding and work socials. Teams tend to get more committed in supporting the company’s goal as they grow to feel more connected to their roles and perceive them as more than just a job. In fact, according to a study done in 2021 by ExpertMarket, businesses with connected staff experienced a 20–25% boost in productivity (Farkas, 2022). Further, according to a Harvard Business Review analysis, teams with strong bonds have 50% more productivity and 106% more energy at work (Zak, 2017). Thus, by better understanding each other’s skills, limitations, and interests, a team will be able to assign and finish tasks more effectively; in turn increasing productivity within the team and decreasing overall burnout.
- Physical and psychological well-being
It stands to reason that one’s connections at work would be closely related to their health given that people spend a significant portion of their life there or thinking about it. People experience better psychological and physical health when they identify more strongly with their workplace colleagues and their organisations. An article by Alice Walton suggested that numerous factors can be linked to the sense of “we-ness” or belonging that workers feel and it impacts an ingroup’s health and wellbeing. According to the article, it improves a person’s sense of control and agency, as well as their sense of belonging, meaning, and purpose (Walton, 2016). Furthermore, social interactions at work have been shown to boost self-reported positive moods at the end of the workday (Houston, 2019). A positive work environment where people truly desire to work can directly contribute to the overall well being of a team. Enhancing people’s mental and emotional well-being will have effects felt well outside of the office, making them feel considerably happier in their daily lives. In fact, the Harvard Business Review showed that employee involvement and camaraderie reduced stress for 74% of those questioned, which led to 13% fewer sick days (Zak, 2017). Thus, one’s physiological and psychological responses are significantly influenced by the presence of supportive social bonds.
- Innovation and creativity
Strong relationships with coworkers within the workplace present chances to encourage innovative thinking. When people feel appreciated and valued, they are more inclined to speak openly and freely about their opinions, just as they would with friends. This open atmosphere can then result in an infusion of more original ideas. When staff is less concerned about criticism, they tend to think more creatively (Farkas, 2022). Thus, positive social interactions enhance creativity which inturn could aid in greater problem-solving and overall workplace effectiveness.
Ways to foster employee bonding
- Team building activities and socials
Many team-building exercises can improve communication and help teams create trust. Many of these activities are fun and entertaining, which allows workers a chance to interact with one another. Furthermore, providing team lunches or socials for workers to celebrate successes or to raise morale can be extremely beneficial. This little break from professional tasks can provide coworkers a chance to relax, chat over a delicious meal, and get to know one another better.
- Community Outreach
Employee bonding can be facilitated by moving beyond just working within the organisation or business. Creating opportunities to give back to society and going in for volunteering activities can further enhance team spirit. Activities centred around local areas like serving the homeless or educating the underprivileged can promote cooperation. It can further help employees develop a better understanding of how their coworkers manage problem-solving.
- Employees working remotely
Individuals working remotely should not be deprived of opportunities to build employee bonds. One major way in which they can be involved is through monthly video conferences where collaborative activities are planned. Additionally, chat rooms for day to day talks can be created using technology where employees can share basic things like show recommendations, recipes, etc. which is something outside of work but helps foster positive social relationships for employees working remotely.
Thus, employee bonding is about creating an environment where employees feel free to be themselves and connect with others beyond just the weekly budget reports. The “we-ness” or belonging they feel within an organisation goes a long way in how they view their coworkers, their work, their personal capabilities and achievements and the organisation as a whole. When employees see themselves as a part of a positive social group, they start to see the world from the perspectives of others as well and this brings in a sense of trust and comfort for them. As said:
“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it”
Farkas, A. (2022). Work socials and the importance of employee bonding. The Brew. Retrieved from https://thebrew.co.uk/work-socials-and-importance-of-employee-bonding/#:~:text=Boost%20productivity&text=As%20teams%20feel%20more%20connected,increase%20by%2020%2D25%25
Houston, E. (2019). The importance of positive relationships in the workplace. PositivePsychology.com. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/positive-relationships-workplace/
Walton, A. G. (2016). Why work relationships affect our mental and physical health. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2016/10/13/why-work-relationships-affect-our-mental-and-physical-health-so-strongly/
Wang, E. S.-T. (2014). Moderators of the relationship between social bonding and organizational commitment. Managing Service Quality. Retrieved from https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/MSQ-08-2013-0157/full/html#idm45786511028032
What is employee bonding? | indeed.com – indeed career guide. (2021). Retrieved from https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/employee-bonding
Zak , P. J. (2017). The Neuroscience of Trust. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2017/01/the-neuroscience-of-trust
About the Author
Sharanya Nair is pursuing an MSc Counselling Studies degree from the University of Edinburgh, UK. She recently graduated from Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts with an honours in Psychology and International Relations. Her interests primarily lie in person-centred therapy, mental health, gender studies, performing arts, and volunteer work. She is extremely passionate about research and academic writing. Through her practice, she aims to integrate expressive arts into counselling and make it accessible to more people. She looks forward to offering a safe, queer friendly and empathic space for individuals while working on reducing the stigma around mental health and therapy in society.