Rebuilding social capital and improving business performance
We may slowly emerge from the bubble we were forced into because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the effects of the pandemic continue to linger. One effect that continues to challenge business performance is the impact on social capital. Social capital refers to the networks, relationships, norms, and trust shared among individuals, teams, and business leaders. Put simply; Social capital refers to the intangible markers that hold organizations together. If individuals, groups, and organizations feel connected, there is the possibility that more work will get done in a faster time.
The disruptions caused by the pandemic, which included remote work, have drawn even greater attention to the need to rebuild social capital. Because social capital requires time to build trust among a workforce, there is no better time to start than now. Three primary ways to rebuild social capital and improve business performance include
- encouraging work sharing,
- motivating casual connections at work, and
- promoting social opportunities outside the workplace.
Encouraging work sharing:
One method for rebuilding social capital in the workplace after a pandemic is to promote tasks that can only be achieved through collaboration. This can be particularly useful for improving trust and camaraderie within a workforce if employees do not regularly work together. The effect of requiring employees to work together is increased familiarity, comfort, and trust.
Apart from sharing tasks, organizations that provide opportunities for workers to share things they might have learned recently at work will leave workers feeling self-fulfillment. This feeling of self-fulfillment will also create a more engaged workforce because employees will feel that they are working with the organization and not just for it.
Motivating casual connections:
Another way to rebuild social capital is to motivate employees to have casual connections that do not involve the task. This may include supporting rare lunch break opportunities where employees can gather for lunch in a shared space and not individually at their desks. Rather than coerce employees into socializing, organizations can ensure comfortable furniture, a cozy room, and functioning appliances such as a coffee machine that encourage employees to congregate.
Additionally, organizations can dedicate a portion of staff meetings to personal interactions, such as something fun a person did recently or a book and movie they recently read or watched.
Promoting social opportunities outside of work:
Rebuilding social capital and improving business performance involves creating opportunities for employees to have social connections outside work. For example, an organization can schedule regular get-togethers outside of work. This could be outdoor hikes, social gatherings at a restaurant, or exercise time at a gym.
Other social connections can include low-cost or free events around town. When teams can enjoy an event that is not constantly occurring within the building, it fosters well-being and solidarity.
Now more than ever, social connections are required to improve business performance, especially in a post-pandemic environment. Unfortunately, since the onset of COVID-19, there have been fewer opportunities to create social connections. However, if organizations can encourage work sharing, motivate casual relationships, and promote social opportunities outside the workplace, it will lead to a strong sense of social capital. This, in turn, will improve business performance by ensuring a greater level of trust, networking, and stronger relationships.