Is the Workplace Social System at Risk of Being Eroded?

As the workplace evolves and we begin to include more and more virtual and remote work scenarios, will fostering work-based friendships and social interaction be less important in the future?

This HireMeUp News post was inspired by a LinkedIn Discussion question that raised such a hot topic for work trends that I thought I’d share it with you. My overall thought on the matter is that fostering work-based friendships will not be less important in the future but I do believe it will be more of a struggle to create and maintain them.

There was a fantastic study I came across a few months back by Naomi Eisenberger, a leading social neuroscience researcher at the University of California at Los Angeles that explored the social nature of the high-performing workplace.

What the report concluded was that we no longer see work as a transactional or give-take situation, but a social system, like a family. Eisenberger found that employees today are less motivated by money than feeling included, how they relate to their work and workplace and the fairness of their manager.

Her research found that if an employee feels betrayed or unrecognized at work say they’re reprimanded, given an assignment that seems unworthy, or told to take a pay cut, they experience it as a neural impulse equivalent to a physical blow to the head. And, subsequently, they switch off and become purely transactional employees, reluctant to give more of themselves to the company, because the social context stands in their way.

But this knowledge of how the brain works can be put to good use! Leaders who understand this dynamic can use it to engage their employees more effectively by playing to each employee’s strengths, supporting collaborative teams, and creating an environment that fosters productive change.

I think as the workplace evolves into more remote, virtual scenarios, it will be a struggle to maintain a positive social system but I believe it will still be important for us to try to hang on to it as best we can because it does have such a positive influence on motivation and productivity.

There is some talk that younger generations don’t value work-based friendships and social interaction very highly and thus may speed up the erosion of the workplace social system. But Talent Smoothie, an organisational development company, published an article on generational diversity which shows that while Gen Y is much more flexible in their work styles than previous generations in that they can work comfortably virtually, they still like face-to-face interaction.

So I don’t think fostering work-based friendships will be less important in the future but I do believe it will be more of a struggle to create and maintain them.

What do you think? Share your thoughts/comments on our Facebook page here…

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Author: A.Baker, HireMeUp

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