Social relationships and the networks they create have a crucial impact on our health, well-being, and longevity.1 Having close relationships with family and friends is highly protective of health—as protective as exercise or quitting smoking. Moreover, people with strong relationships can weather stress more easily and suffer fewer effects of stress on their health.2 The social networks that develop from connections among people provide a variety of resources from emotional support to opportunities to build social capital and collective action.
The quality of social relationships in the workplace matters for employee health and well-being. The evidence shows that positive social connections at work—supportive interactions, a sense of belonging, and effective teamwork—improve worker well-being and can protect against harmful effects of workplace stress.3,4 Positive relationships at work are also good for the bottom line. Research shows that these connections can increase productivity by improving how employees work together to get the job done.5 Happier, healthier employees are also less likely to call out sick, incur high medical insurance costs, or quit.2,6
Creating positive social relationships in your workplace may sound like a worthy goal, but how do you accomplish it? This section highlights a set of promising practices for doing just that. These strategies are backed by strong research demonstrating their efficacy in improving worker health, well-being, and job performance.