Side chats on the way to meetings. Lunches outside the office. Seeing new faces in the break room. These small moments of connection have a big impact on workplace community. Yet, even as people slowly return to the office, a global trend of isolation is making those connections fewer and farther between.
Grove was founded on the principle that organizations are built on relationships and companies must be intentional about fostering those connections. Not just to reap the benefits a strong community brings to an organization, but to bulwark against the damaging effects of isolation.
While the occasional feeling of loneliness is a natural part of the human experience, research suggests global loneliness has intensified over the last few decades. In the US, the mean number of close friends dropped from 3 in 1985 to 2 in 2011, and over 46% of people report feeling lonely regularly. We’re living in the most connected time in human history, yet we're more isolated than ever.
As the workplace shifts from permanent physical spaces to hybrid and virtual ones, the 'water cooler' advantage to culture is evaporating, and with it, many people's primary source of community. Even before the pandemic, 40% of people report feeling isolated at work, leading to lower levels of organizational commitment, engagement, and retention.
The boundaries between work and life are also becoming increasingly blurred, leading many employees to ask themselves, "Why do I work here instead of somewhere else?" One third of Millennials say they plan to look for a new job once the pandemic is over, with company culture playing a significant role. Nearly half of employees who plan to leave their jobs would grade their current employers’ efforts to maintain culture during the pandemic as a “C” or lower, according to a recent Prudential survey.
“A lot of Millennials who are younger and not married are sitting in their apartments by themselves. They can’t go out and have a drink with coworkers, they can’t go out for lunch,” says Jeff Kortes, an employee retention expert and consultant. “They are very isolated and it’s killing corporate culture.”
Companies see substantial benefits when employees feel they belong. In a recent study, having a high sense of belonging was linked to a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% reduction in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days. Employees who reported higher levels of belonging also showed a 167% increase in their employer promoter score, received double the raises, and 18 times more promotions.
Having close friends at work is also shown to result in bottom-line benefits for companies. Employees who report having a best friend at work are 7x more likely to be engaged in their jobs. Another study showed that 75% of employees with a best friend at work planned to stay in their organizations for at least another year compared with 51% who didn’t.
Acknowledging the value of belonging is the first step companies can take. While 84% of organizations rate employee experience as important, only 22% think they’re “excellent” at it. Meanwhile, 87% of organizations cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges.
Companies with an intentional strategy to foster meaningful connections at work will reap higher levels of engagement, retention, and employee well-being. By supporting a diverse and engaged community, organizations break down silo walls and weave deep networks of coworker connections.
Grove’s platform empowers companies to foster stronger employee connections by bringing people together. Get started with a free trial, or schedule a demo with our team to learn more.