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Fostering Social Connection in the Workplace
By Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD
1
Why Social Connections Matter
Social connection is widely
viewed as a fundamental
human need, influencing a broad
spectrum of life. Although it is
perhaps most well recognized for
its influence on psychological
well-being, we now have robust
evidence indicating that social
connections are critical to phy-
sical health
1
and cognitive func-
tioning
2
andeveninfluence
risk for premature mortality.
3-5
Indeed, those who are more
socially connected are not only
happier, less depressed, and have greater satisfaction with life but also
have slower age-related declines in cognition,
6
faster wound healing,
7
and even longer lifeexpectancy.
3
Conversely, having few or poorquality
social connections carries a risk for premature mortality that is compa-
rable and exceed the risk associated with obesity and air pollution.
3
When we consider social connection, we may assume this
refers to our close relationships such as our relationship with a
spouse or romantic partner, children, extended family, and close
friends. Certainly, these close relationships are critical to social
connection, but the degree to which we are socially connected
also extends more broadly to include a variety of social ties, even
those who may not typically be viewed as close intimate relation-
ships. Indeed, there is good evidence for the influence of both
1
Brigham Young University
Editor’s Desk: Social Connection Issue 1307
strong and weak social ties within broader social networks on a
variety of health outcomes.
7-10
To really understand the full
scope of this social influence, we need to consider those we rely
on and interact with on a daily basis, including families, schools,
communities, and the workplace.
Defining Social Connectedness
It is important to clearly define social connection as this has impor-
tant implications for how it may be addressed. Social connection is
an umbrella term that refers to the ways in which one can connect to
others physically, behaviorally, cognitively, and emotionally. Social
connection can be broadly characterized as encompassing 3 major
components: (1) social connection as a source of structural support
via the physical or behavioral presence of relationships in our lives
(eg, size of social network, marital status, living alone, frequency of
social contact); (2) social connection as a source of functional sup-
port via the resources or functions our relationships provide or are
cognitively perceived to be available (eg, perceived or received sup-
port, loneliness); and (3) social connection as a source of quality
support via the positive and negative emotional nature of our rela-
tionships (eg, relationship satisfaction, conflict, strain; see Figure 1).
Epidemiological evidence clearly demonstrates that the structure,
functions, and quality of social relationships each significantly pre-
dict risk or protection.
Social connection can be thought of as a continuum of high social
connection (eg, large social network, high social support, relation-
ship satisfaction) to low social connection (or social disconnection;
eg, social isolation, loneliness, poor quality relationships). Similarly,
we can think of health risk as being on a continuum, such that being
highly socially connected is associated with protective effects while
social disconnection is associated with greater risk. For example,
although social isolation, loneliness, and relationship conflict are all
indicators of social disconnection, each represents different compo-
nents (structural, functional, and quality). Social isolation and lone-
liness are often used interchangeably, yet each represent very distinct
phenomenon. Social isolation refers to the absence or infrequent
contact with others (structural supports deficit), while loneliness
refers to the subjective perception of being alone or the mismatch
between one’s actual and desired level of social connection (func-
tional support deficit). Although these can co-occur, one may still
feel lonely despite being around others or having frequent contact.
Likewise, one may be isolated but not feel lonely. Importantly, hav-
ing high conflict in relationships (quality deficit) may occur in the
absence of loneliness or isolation. In other words, low social
connection (or social disconnection) can result from structural, func-
tional, or quality deficits.
Why Social Connection in the Workplace
Matters
Because many adults spend more waking hours at work than they do
with their own families, relationships may have a significant and
chronic influence on our health and well-being. The influence of
these relationships (or lack thereof) may affect individuals across
the spectrum of workplace environments, roles, and hierarchy. For
example, according to a recent Harvard Business Review CEO snap-
shot survey,
11
half of CEOs report experiencing feelings of lone-
liness. The feelings of isolation, and associated repercussions, are
also reported by others in leadership positions. Likewise, even
among health-care professionals whose job is to help others adjust,
loneliness was positively associated with somatization, exhaustion,
and work alienation.
12
Therefore, perceptions of loneliness may be
prevalent in the workplace.
Figure 1. Components of Social Connection.
1308 American Journal of Health Promotion 32(5)
Social disconnection in the workplace may also be the result of
poor quality relationships. While obstacles, deadlines, and mistakes
certainly contribute to workplace stress, coworkers can contribute
significantly as an important source of interpersonal stress. Workplace
relationships can be rife with incivility (eg, interpersonal mistreat-
ment, disregard for another’s feelings, rude or condescending com-
ments).
13
Across type of job and industry, 8.3%of those surveyed
report being bullied.
14
Work-related bullying might take the form of excessive monitoring
of work, unreasonable deadlines, unmanageable workload, and
meaningless tasks; while person-related bullying may take the
form of obvious verbal abuse persistent criticism, overt threats,
or more cunning acts like excluding or isolating the person, gossip
or rumors, and or practical jokes.
15,16
The recent #MeToo Movement illustrates the potential implica-
tions of poor quality relationships in the workplace. Whether it is
feelings of isolation or interpersonal strain, low social connection in
the workplace may significantly impact well-being.
Fostering Strong Connections Is Good for
Health and for Business
Some may not see a clear role for institutions and employers in addres-
sing social connection (or disconnection), believing it to be an issue of
one’s private, personal life. However, fostering social connection may
be good for employees and employers in a variety of tangible ways
that extend far beyond just ‘‘feeling good.’’ There is now sufficient
evidence to document that social disconnection has significant health
and economic costs.
Health
Interpersonal conflict in the workplace is an important predictor of
job stress
17,18
and decreased well-being.
19,20
Social stressors, such as
perceptions of social evaluative threat, have been associated with
heightened magnitude of physiological (eg, cardiac autonomic, neu-
roendocrine) and affective (shame, embarrassment, anxiety, negative
affect, and self-esteem) responses
21
—and those who are lonely are
more sensitive to this.
22
Loneliness is characterized by a cognitive
bias, such that greater attention is paid to negative information,
greater perceptions of threat in social situations, greater attribution
of others’ intentions as hostile, and greater negativity in evaluations
of both self and others.
23
Therefore, loneliness may magnify the
already negative effects of social stressors in the workplace. Con-
versely, there is good reason to believe that supportive work envir-
onments may be protective. In a prospective study of job demand,
employees received periodic health assessments and tracked over
time.
24
Among those reporting high levels of work-peer support
(coworkers who were helpful in solving problems, coworkers who
were friendly), mortality risk from all causes was significantly lower
even after controlling for known physiological and behavioral risk
factors.
24
Productivity
Fostering social connections may also be good for business. Feelings
of loneliness among CEOs may also negatively impact performance.
11
For instance, among those who report loneliness, 61%report that it
hinders their performance. This was particularly true for first-time
CEOs: 70%of those who experience loneliness report that the feelings
negatively affect their performance. Regardless of organizational sta-
tus, lonelier individuals are more likely to feel estranged and less
connected to coworkers and more likely to experience a lack of
belongingness at work, both of which may lower commitment to their
organizations. This is troubling because greater commitment has been
demonstrated to lead to harder work and better performance compared
to weaker commitment.
25
Conversely, having strong meaningful connections at work is
associated with better outcomes. For example, a Gallup poll found
30%of respondents indicated that they had a best friend at work.
Those who had a best friend at work produced higher quality of work,
reported higher well-being, were less likely to get injured on the job,
and were 7 times more likely to be engaged in their jobs compared to
those who did not report having a best friend at work.
26
In an experi-
ment where workers wore high-tech badges that monitored movement
and interactions on a second-by-second basis to determine when
workers were most and least efficient, researchers found that even
small increases in social cohesion had large influences on better
productivity.
27
This was true even when interactions were not work
related, suggesting that it wasn’t so much about the interaction as it
was about having a relationship. Thus, time spent socializing is not
wasted time. Taken together, these data suggest fostering social con-
nection in the workplace may increase productivity and lead to tan-
gible economic gains.
What Can Employers Do to Foster
Meaningful, High-Quality Social Connections?
Because there is no single cause for social disconnection, there is no
single recipe that we can all follow that will reduce isolation and
create connections—and a one size fits all approach is likely to fail.
However, research does point us to a few potential key ingredients.
When addressing social connection in the workplace, a multi-
factorial definition of social connection suggests we need to address
each of the components to effectively address risk and protection.
For instance, employers may implement strategies among employ-
ees by providing increased opportunities for socialization (eg, open
space offices, gathering place such as a watercooler or ping pong
table, social hour gatherings) to increase social contact (eg, struc-
tural supports). However, structural support is just one of the com-
ponents of social connection. Although structural support is
certainly important, if such interactions are primarily trivial or
superficial, then these efforts may not necessarily reduce percep-
tions of loneliness. Further, given the evidence of workplace conflict
and bullying, employers need to recognize that not all social inter-
action is positive. Truly addressing this issue means going beyond
simply increasing opportunities for interaction to implementing stra-
tegies that foster high-quality interactions in order to build high-
quality relationships. Efforts may also include leadership training
that promotes open communication and connections between lead-
ership and employees to achieve common goals.
28,29
Further efforts
should focus on increasing trust, collaboration, and positivity, as
well as promoting a feeling that one is valued and respected in the
workplace—all of which have been linked to better quality relation-
ships and well-being.
30
It is just as critical for employers to implement policies and stra-
tegies that foster meaningful relationships outside of work as within
the workplace—promoting a healthy work–life balance. Longer hours
do not always equate to greater productivity,
2
but do take time away
family, friends, and having a quality of life outside of work. Research
suggests that having a diversity of relationships is important.
31
For
Editor’s Desk: Social Connection Issue 1309
instance, a growing body of evidence suggests that network diversity
(a diversity of social roles) influences a variety of outcomes, including
better immune functioning
32
and white matter microstructural integ-
rity
33
—both of which may help explain the diverse health effects
associated with social networks. Research has also shown that diver-
sity in the workplace can positively influence creativity and critical
decision-making, as well as financial returns.
34
Leadership and inclu-
sion of those from different backgrounds may provide different
approaches and perspectives, which in turn lead to better performance
outcomes. Similarly, having a diversity of types of relationships in
ones’ life may provide different kinds of resources (eg, advice, assis-
tance, companionship, affection), which in turn may influence emo-
tional and physical health in different ways. Workplace relationships
are unlikely to fulfill all our social needs (eg, emotional intimacy,
physical affection), emphasizing the need for employers to recognize
the importance of relationships within the workplace and outside the
workplace.
Workplace environment and policies need to communicate the
value of social connections as well as put them into actionable prac-
tices and policies. As a model of such practice and policies, we can
look to Denmark, which ranks as the best in the world for work–life
balance
35
and is also consistently one of the happiest country in the
world. Factors contributing to the work–life balance included flexible
work hours, paid childcare, a minimum of 5 weeks paid holiday, and
an 8 AM to 5 PM work day with 35- to 40-hour work weeks—all of
which allow time for strengthening social relationships outside of
work. With longer work days becoming the norm in the United States
and other countries, it is notable that data across Organization for
Economic Cooperation and Development countries show longer work
days are actually associated with reduced productivity and the gross
domestic product per hour worked.
36
Thus, maintaining work–life
balance may be good for our relationships and for business.
Many employers offer employee wellness programs and retirement
planning. Such workplace wellness programs often include screen-
ings, immunizations, fitness classes, and even wellness coaching—
fostering social connection needs to be included among this list. Evi-
dence clearly demonstrates the risk associated with low social con-
nection is comparable or exceeding other factors known to influence
risk (eg, body mass index, physical activity, flu vaccinations).
3
There
is further evidence that the prevalence of social isolation and lone-
liness is comparable with other widely prioritized risk factors (eg,
obesity, smoking, physical inactivity).
37
Therefore, fostering social
connections should receive the same degree of emphasis and resources
as these other factors in workplace wellness programs. Further, many
employers provide financial planning to help employees plan for
retirement. Retirement is also associated with significant disruptions
and reduction in one’s social connections. Such retirement planning
should go beyond assisting with financial preparation to educate indi-
viduals on how to prepare socially for retirement (eg, preparing
socially for changes in health, living arrangements, maintaining social
ties and purpose, community engagement, etc). Cultivating a reliable
support system takes time. Trust and social capital are built over time.
Whether it is financial resources or social resources—if you wait until
you need it, it is likely too late.
Conclusion
To truly solve loneliness requires the engagement of institutions
where people spend the bulk of their time: families, schools, social
organizations, and the workplace. Companies in particular have the
power to drive change at a societal level not only by strengthening
connections among employees, partners, and clients but also by
serving as an innovation hub that can inspire other organizations to
address loneliness.
—Vivek Murthy 19th US Surgeon General
We now have robust evidence that being socially connected has a
significant impact on our health, well-being, and even our risk for
premature mortality. Further, there is evidence that a significant por-
tion of the population is effected and social disconnection is grow-
ing.
37
Given most adults spend the majority of their waking hours
working, it is important to consider social connection in the context
of work. The workplace can be a source of isolation, loneliness, and
social conflict; likewise individuals bring their existing level of social
connection to the workplace. In many professions, long hours can
isolate one from their families and friends. Further, in professions
where there is a significant amount of solitary work, there is little
opportunity for connection within the workplace. Just as there is spil-
lover between work and life stressors, there is likely spillover effects
of social disconnection. Whether it is social isolation, loneliness, or
conflict, it is clear that the level of social (dis)connection may be
brought to the workplace (eg, loneliness effecting work), occur in the
context of the workplace (eg, problematic relationships), or caused by
the workplace (eg, work isolates you from loved ones).
Given the workplace may be both a source of disconnection or
conversely a means of connecting socially, institutional-level supports
are needed. Workplace policies and practices that foster meaningful
high-quality relationships may range from careful attention to work-
place environment, wellness and retirement planning programs, and
policies that foster a work–life balance. Of course, such practices and
policies should be evidence based and subject to periodic review to
ensure that strategies are implemented effectively.
Workplace institutions, whether it be business, education, enter-
tainment, health, or law, can also directly address the issue by being a
source of innovative products, practices, and services that raise aware-
ness, directly facilitate or nurture greater social connection, and/or
tackle current barriers. The possibilities are nearly limitless, but
efforts should always be evaluated for potential unintended negative
effects (eg, Facebook is linked to poorer well-being
38
) to ensure their
integrity of purpose and effectiveness. If done well, institutional-level
efforts may have a much larger societal influence,
39
shifting the tide of
social disconnection that currently characterizes much of society to
create a more socially connected society. Importantly, evidence sug-
gests that addressing social connection is good not only for health and
well-being but also for business.
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The FACCTs of (Work) Life: How Relationships (and
Returns) Are Linked to the Emotional Culture of
Companionate Love
By Olivia (Mandy) O’Neill, PhD
1
It was a few days before Valen-
tine’s Day when the call came
in from a journalist at a major US
newspaper. ‘‘Professor O’Neill, I
was wondering if you could com-
ment on a story I’m writing ...’’
My response had started to
becomeabitofaroutine,‘Thank
you so much for thinking about
me, but my research is not about
that kind of love,the kind we cele-
brate on Valentine’s Day. My
research is about companionate
love, which is actually a much
more common form of love that
scholars such as Barb Fredrick-
son and her collaborators have widely documented.’’ The journalist
persisted, and we had a good conversation about why romantic
love was different from companionate love—the fondness, affec-
tion, caring, compassion, and tenderness we feel and express for
friends, family, acquaintances, and—yes—coworkers.
The journey to studying fondness, affection, caring, compassion,
and tenderness—or ‘‘FACCT’’—as I’ve begun calling it, began with
my collaborator Sigal Barsade and a visionary CEO at a long-term
healthcare facility and hospital in the northeastern United States. In
an industry struggling with major institutional changes, financial crises,
and high rates of turnover and burnout among staff, this was an exemp-
lary organization, distinguished not only by great patient care but also
by having one of the highest rates of staff satisfaction and lowest rates of
turnover in the industry. The CEO knew her organizational was doing
well, but she wanted to know why they were doing so well and howthey
could be even better. After conducting an assessment of the hospital’s
emotional culture—the visible norms and artifacts, underlying values
and assumptions reflecting degree of perceived appropriateness, and
actual expression or suppression of discrete emotions within a social
unit—we discovered
1
that the single most important and defining fea-
ture of the organization’s culture was love,specifically,theFACCT
being expressed by staff members in a unit toward one another.
2
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
To be clear, every hospital or health-care facility needs compassion
and caring as part of its culture—that’s intrinsic to and inseparable
from health-care mission and commitment to patient care. What is
different about organizations with a strong emotional culture of com-
panionate love is that caring and compassion (along with affection,
fondness, and tenderness) is expressed by staff members toward one
another, often behind closed doors, in offices, in the break rooms, at
potlucks and happy hours—in other words, in places where patients,
clients, or customers never see their interactions. It’s akin to the love
you feel for family and close friends, but in my research,
1
it is love
expressed by employees through cultural artifacts, shared values,
norms, and assumptions at work and measured through trained rater
observations, employee surveys, and semistructured interviews. While
artifacts are things you can directly observe, such as how people
personalize their workplace with photos of friends and family or pos-
ters on the wall, values are more abstract and might include words like
‘‘caring’’ and ‘‘support.’’ Norms refer to expectations for behavior
such as writing little notes when someone is going through a hard
time or taking the time to check in with one another and inquire about
the important people and events in one another’s lives. Assumptions
have to do with the taken-for-granted, unobservable nature of FACCT
and the extent to which it explains why people do at work what they do
every day, often outside of conscious awareness.
As it turned out, this approach to thinking about work relationships
was quite radical, not just because it was different than the way we
think about ‘‘caring’’ at work, but because the word ‘‘love’’ had not
been used very much outside of the personal relationship domain. To
some business practitioners, ‘‘love’’ equated to ‘‘workplace romance’’
and ‘‘affection’’ conjured scenes that worried even the most open-
minded human resources (HR) professionals. Another challenge came
from the academic community itself. When my collaborator and I first
shared our results, some business scholars simply couldn’t believe that
workplace relationships could run deep enough to be considered love.
Fortunately for us, research isn’t like Santa Claus: It doesn’t matter
whether you believe in it, it matters whether you can prove it, which
we did both in the health-care facility and in a survey study of thou-
sands of managers in 7 different industries.
2
The results? Being in
departments or organizations with a strong culture of companionate
love predicted a myriad of outcomes, not just employee attitudes such
as higher job satisfaction, lower emotional exhaustion, and better
teamwork, but also benefits for patients: improved mood, better qual-
ity of life, and less likelihood of expensive emergency room (ER)
1
George Mason University
1312 American Journal of Health Promotion 32(5)
... 23 Social connectedness is used as an umbrella term to capture the ways in which people connect to others. 24,25 Existing measurement methods denote three components of social connectedness: structural (ie, the quantification of the objective presence of relationships in one's life), functional (ie, the subjective perception of what is provided by one's relationships), and quality (ie, the positive or negative emotional aspect of one's relationships). 24 As recommended by other social connectedness scholars, 15,25 all three dimensions are unique and critical to consider in assessing health. ...
... 24,25 Existing measurement methods denote three components of social connectedness: structural (ie, the quantification of the objective presence of relationships in one's life), functional (ie, the subjective perception of what is provided by one's relationships), and quality (ie, the positive or negative emotional aspect of one's relationships). 24 As recommended by other social connectedness scholars, 15,25 all three dimensions are unique and critical to consider in assessing health. ...
Article
Purpose We examined the intrapersonal, interpersonal, community, and societal correlates of a structural indicator of social connectedness (ie, social isolation) among a sample of young adult U.S. males Design Cross-sectional. Setting: Online survey. Subjects Males (n = 495) aged 18-25 years residing in the U.S. Measures Social isolation was assessed as an index measure of social integration (inverse scored). The correlates consisted of the following variables: 1) intrapersonal (eg, social-demographic characteristics), 2) interpersonal (eg, adverse childhood experiences; marital status), 3) community (eg, county-level mental distress rates), and 4) societal (eg, how powerful is society’s image of the ‘masculine man’). Analysis Four-block hierarchical regression. Results The intra- and interpersonal variables significantly shared 17% and an incremental 5%, respectively, of the explained variance in social isolation. Several intra- (eg, financial vulnerability β = -2.76, [95% CI: -4.40, -1.13]) and inter-personal (ie, childhood household dysfunction β = -.66, [95% CI: -1.18, -.14]) factors were significantly associated with greater social isolation. Four intrapersonal factors (eg, gay or bisexual β = 2.31, [95% CI: .29, 4.33]) were significantly associated with lower social isolation. Conclusions The current study’s findings have important implications for understanding and shaping social connectedness in young adult U.S. males, with micro-level influences potentially being most important in predicting social isolation in this population.
... A way to improve these blue-collar employees' health statuses may be through workplace health promotion (WHP) interventions, which should be oriented toward the individual and the work environment according to the European Network for WHP [7]. The workplace is a suitable setting for implementing such interventions as it enables the reach of large groups of people and the use of existing social connections and support [8,9]. However, little is known about factors specifically associated with successfully implementing the combination of individual and environmental WHP interventions in blue-collar work settings (i.e., non-office settings). ...
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Blue-collar workers often have disadvantageous health statuses and might therefore benefit from a combination of individual and environmental workplace health promotion interventions. Exploring stakeholders’ perceived facilitators and barriers regarding the combined implementation of these interventions in blue-collar work settings is important for effective implementation. A qualitative study consisting of 20 stakeholder interviews within six types of organisations in The Netherlands was conducted. The potential implementation of the evidence-based individual intervention SMARTsize and the environmental intervention company cafeteria 2.0 was discussed. Data were analysed using thematic analysis with a deductive approach. Five main themes emerged: (1) the availability of resources, (2) professional obligation, (3) expected employee cooperation, (4) the compatibility of the proposed health interventions, and (5) the content of implementation tools and procedures. Generally, stakeholders expressed a sense of professional obligation toward workplace health promotion, mentioning that the current societal focus on health and lifestyle provided the perfect opportunity to implement interventions to promote healthy eating and physical activity. However, they often perceived the high doses of employees’ occupational physical activity as a barrier. We recommend co-creating interventions, implementation tools, and processes by involving stakeholders with different professional backgrounds and by adapting communication strategies at diverse organisational levels.
... Our findings highlight the role social factors play in motivating physical activity for participants. Holt-Lunstad (2018) defined social connection as connecting with others physically, behaviourally, cognitively, and emotionally and for our participants this conferred a sense of belonging [44]. Participants valued face-to-face opportunities that provided a mechanism for sharing contextualised knowledge about how to be active and for motivation. ...
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Background The Active Women over 50 trial tested a scalable program for increasing physical activity among women aged 50+. The program included information, activity tracker and email support. This study sought to describe the participant perspectives of the Active Women over 50 program and considerations for designing physical activity interventions for this demographic. Methods Women who completed the Active Women over 50 trial were purposively recruited for maximum variation in age, employment, carer responsibility, medical conditions and physical activity. Individual semi-structured interviews explored their perspectives on physical activity, Active Women over 50 program components and suggestions for future iterations. Data were thematically analysed. Results Participants’ capacity to be physically active was shaped by an interplay of factors. Our analysis generated four main themes relating to physical activity in general and to the program: Age and gender matters, Physical activity is social, Strategising for physical activity and the Self-responsibility discourse. At this midlife stage, physical activity participation was challenged by personal, life-stage and cultural factors, alongside a tension of the self-responsibility discourse which also impacted the program experience. Social factors and finding a suitable strategy for motivation were deemed integral aspects of being active. Future programs could consider facilitation of social networks and accountability, life-stage health information and positive framing to support self-responsibility. Conclusion A range of strategies is key to supporting women over 50 to be more physically active due to the variety of circumstances and levels of agency experienced. We offer suggestions that do not need to be resource intensive but could be incorporated into a scaled program.
... Since in-person interaction during the onboarding process has been replaced by digital onboarding, social connectedness remains a profound concern for most participants in this study. Social connectedness refers to "the ways in which one can connect to others physically, behaviourally, cognitively, and emotionally" (Holt-Lunstad, 2018, p. 1308 Most participants believe that digital onboarding engenders social disconnection compared to traditional in-person onboarding. Employees often want to feel supported by their employers, managers, and colleagues, and their perceived level of support often determines their performance and other employee outcomes (Philips et al., 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose Given the sharp rise in the adoption of digital onboarding in employment relations and human resource management practices, largely caused by the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, this study explores the impact of digital onboarding on employees' wellbeing, engagement level, performance, and overall outcomes. Design/methodology/approach This study uses an interpretive qualitative research methodology, undertaking semi-structured interviews with 28 participants working in the UK services industry. Findings The study finds that digital onboarding has a significant impact on employee outcomes, following the perceptions of “dwindling social connectedness and personal wellbeing”, “meaningful and meaningless work”, and “poor employee relations” among employees and their employers in the workplace. Practical implications Due to the increased adoption of digital onboarding, human resources teams must focus on having considerable human interaction with new hires, even if this means adopting a hybrid approach to onboarding. Human resources teams must ensure that they work together with line managers to promote a welcoming culture for new hires and facilitate organisation-driven socialisation tactics and the “quality” information necessary for supporting new employees. For new employees, besides acquiring the digital skills that are essential in the workplace, they must accept the changing digital landscape in order to practice effective communication and align their goals and values with those of their organisation. Originality/value Qualitative research on the influence of digital onboarding on employee outcomes is limited, with much of the research yet to substantially consider the impact of digitalisation on the human resources function of onboarding employees as full members of an organisation.
... The workplace is an important setting for focusing on promoting healthy behaviours. Most of the global population participates in the labour force, which allows for using existing social connections and reaching large groups [8,9]. A systematic review indicated that workplace health promotion activities could contribute to positive changes in weight-related outcomes of employees [10]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background Understanding the perceptions of lower socioeconomic groups towards workplace health promotion is important because they are underrepresented in workplace health promotion activities and generally engage in unhealthier lifestyle behaviour than high SEP groups. This study aims to explore interest in workplace health promotion programmes (WHPPs) among employees with a low and medium level of education regarding participation and desired programme characteristics (i.e. the employer’s role, the source, the channel, the involvement of the social environment and conditions of participation). Methods A mixed-methods design was used, consisting of a questionnaire study (n = 475) and a sequential focus group study (n = 27) to enrich the questionnaire’s results. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed to analyse the associations between subgroups (i.e. demographics, weight status) and interest in a WHPP. The focus group data were analysed deductively through thematic analysis, using MAXQDA 2018 for qualitative data analysis. Results The questionnaire study showed that 36.8% of respondents were interested in an employer-provided WHPP, while 45.1% expressed no interest. Regarding subgroup differences, respondents with a low level of education were less likely to express interest in a WHPP than those with a medium level of education (OR = .54, 95%, CI = .35–.85). No significant differences were found concerning gender, age and weight status. The overall themes discussed in the focus groups were similar to the questionnaires (i.e. the employer’s role, the source, the channel, the involvement of the social environment and conditions of participation). The qualitative data showed that participants’ perceptions were often related to their jobs and working conditions. Conclusions Employees with a medium level of education were more inclined to be interested in a WHPP than those with a low level of education. Focus groups suggested preferences varied depending on job type and related tasks. Recommendations are to allow WHPP design to adapt to this variation and facilitate flexible participation. Future research investigating employers’ perceptions of WHPPs is needed to enable a mutual understanding of an effective programme design, possibly contributing to sustainable WHPP implementation.
... Social safety also benefits behavior. For example, in addition to predicting more positive health behaviors across the lifespan [43], social safety is associated with greater perseverance, productivity, and achievement at work and school [44,45], in addition to more volunteering and fewer sick days [46]. Fostering and maintaining social safety thus confers several notable benefits to human health, wellbeing, longevity, and behavior. ...
Article
Full-text available
Many of life’s most impactful experiences involve either social safety (e.g., acceptance, affiliation, belonging, inclusion) or social threat (e.g., conflict, isolation, rejection, exclusion). According to Social Safety Theory, these experiences greatly impact human health and behavior because a fundamental goal of the brain and immune system is to keep the body biologically safe. To achieve this crucial goal, social threats likely gained the ability to activate anticipatory neural-immune responses that would have historically benefited reproduction and survival; the presence of social safety, in turn, likely dampened these responses. Viewing positive and negative social experiences through this lens affords a biologically based evolutionary account for why certain stressors are particularly impactful. It also provides an integrated, multi-level framework for investigating the biopsychosocial roots of psychopathology, health disparities, aging, longevity, and interpersonal cognition and behavior. Ultimately, this work has the potential to inform new strategies for reducing disease risk and promoting resilience.
... 25 The literature further highlights the impact a caustic work environment has on an individual's organizational commitment, as lonelier staff feel less emotionally and socially connected to colleagues, regardless of position title. 26,27 Furthermore, studies have found that those working in healthcare with higher levels of burnout also had poorer sleep quality, factors that correlate with job performance. 28,29 Our study findings support the link between sleep and burnout. ...
Article
Background Little is known about the level of burnout among program administrators (PAs) in medical education and its impact on the trainee environment.Objective To investigate variations in burnout levels over a 1-year period among a national cohort of PAs and examine any associations between perceived support and isolation.DesignA 1-year longitudinal study conducted to assess burnout levels among PAs across the USA. The Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (score range, 0–100) was used to measure burnout over one academic year (July 2017–June 2018). The generalized estimating equations model was used to measure changes in burnout levels from the start of the academic year. To explore the differences in burnout scores across question response levels, a one-way ANOVA test was utilized and reported as least squares means ± SD.ParticipantsIndividuals who self-identified as PAs in a graduate medical education training program. Among the 1084 persons nationwide who expressed interest, 904 (83%) completed the baseline survey; 29 of the 42 (69%) local administrators completed the survey. “Clients” defined as interns, residents/fellows, and medical students.Main MeasuresChange in burnout score using the validated tool. Hypothesis formulated prior to data collection.Key ResultsAmong the 931 participants, the 3rd quarter (March 2018) marked the lowest average personal burnout score (change from the start of academic year, − 3.67; p < 0.001, 95% CI − 5.77 to − 1.58) and work-related burnout score (change, − 3.03; p < 0.001, 95% CI − 5.01 to − 1.06). Client-related burnout was the lowest in September 2017 (change, − 1.46; p = 0.491; 95% CI − 3.54 to 0.62). June 2018: those who strongly agreed to feeling isolated in their current position had an increased personal (69.1 ± 18.4 SD), work-related (72.5 ± 20.8 SD), and client-related (42.3 ± 23.7 SD) burnout score.ConclusionsPA burnout levels fluctuate over the academic year and are shown to increase as feelings of isolation grow.
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Social neuroscience combines tools and perspectives from social psychology and neuroscience to understand how people interact with their social world. Here we discuss a relatively new method—hyperscanning—to study real‐time, interactive social interactions using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We highlight three contributions that fMRI hyperscanning makes to the study of the social mind: (1) Naturalism: it shifts the focus from tightly‐controlled stimuli to more naturalistic social interactions; (2) Multi‐person Dynamics: it shifts the focus from individuals as the unit of analysis to dyads and groups; and (3) Neural Resolution: fMRI hyperscanning captures high‐resolution neural patterns and dynamics across the whole brain, unlike other neuroimaging hyperscanning methods (e.g., electroencephalogram, functional near‐infrared spectroscopy). Finally, we describe the practical considerations and challenges that fMRI hyperscanning researchers must navigate. We hope researchers will harness this powerful new paradigm to address pressing questions in today's society.
Chapter
This chapter shows how veterinary professionals' leadership is perceived, by their and others, and explains what motivates them leadership. It presents a leader who is a workaholic, self‐critical or, even worse, a bully, will find himself surrounded by others who support and exhibit similar behaviour, which can lead directly to negative impacts on both human and animal welfare. The chapter looks at how leaders can lead themselves through consideration of self‐awareness, self‐motivation, and self‐regulation, and how they can sustain their leadership through self‐development and self‐care. Self‐awareness is therefore the first step of self‐leadership. Power is an unavoidable component of leadership. Regular exercise is good for physical and mental health in leadership. Mindfulness is a modern Westernisation of Eastern concept around self‐awareness.
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Human connections are key to the promotion of health and prevention of illness; moreover, illness can cause deterioration of human connections. Healthcare professional–patient relationships are key to ensuring the preservation of adequate human connections. It is important for healthcare professionals to develop their ability to foster satisfactory human connections because: (i) they represent social support for patients; and (ii) they prevent work-related stress. In this study we assessed the relationship between absence (loneliness) and presence (empathy) of human connections with the occupational well-being of healthcare professionals. The Scale of Collateral Effects, which measures somatization, exhaustion, and work alienation; the Jefferson Scale of Empathy; and the Social and Emotional Loneliness Scale for Adults, were mailed to 628 healthcare professionals working in Spanish public healthcare institutions. The following explanatory variables were used to evaluate work well-being: (a) empathy, as a professional competence; (b) loneliness, age, and family burden, as psychological indicators; and (c) professional experience, work dedication, and salary, as work indicators. Comparison, correlation, and regression analyses were performed to measure the relationships among these variables and occupational well-being. Of 628 surveys mailed, 433 (69% response rate) were returned fully completed. Adequate reliability was confirmed for all instruments. The entire sample was divided into four groups, based on the combined variable, “occupation by sex.” Comparative analyses demonstrated differences among “occupation by sex” groups in collateral effects (p = 0.03) and empathy (p = 0.04), but not loneliness (p = 0.84). Inverse associations between empathy and collateral effects were confirmed for somatization (r = -0.16; p < 0.001), exhaustion (r = -0.14; p = 0.003), and work alienation (r = -0.16; p < 0.001). Furthermore, loneliness was positively associated with collateral effects (r = 0.22; p < 0.001). Neither family burden, nor work dedication to clinics or management activities were associated with the three collateral effects measured. These findings support an important role for empathy in the prevention of work stress in healthcare professionals. They also confirm that loneliness, as a multidimensional and domain specific experience, is detrimental to occupational well-being.
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Purpose This study examined the relationship between coworker incivility and job performance via emotional exhaustion, and the moderating effect of employee self-efficacy and compassion at work on the relationship. Design/Methodology/Approach Drawing on the Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) model, we hypothesized an indirect relationship between coworker incivility and job performance through emotional exhaustion. Also, we predicted that the positive relationship between coworker incivility and emotional exhaustion would be weaker for employees with high self-efficacy and compassion experience at work. Surveys were gathered at two time points, 3 months apart, from 217 frontline employees of a five-star hotel in South Korea. Findings The results indicated that coworker incivility was negatively related to job performance and that the link was fully mediated by emotional exhaustion. Employees’ self-efficacy buffered the negative outcomes of coworker incivility, whereas experienced compassion at work did not moderate the relationship between coworker incivility and emotional exhaustion. Implications This study advances understanding of the negative consequences of coworker incivility and the ways to attenuate such negative effects. We suggested emotional exhaustion as a key psychological mechanism and revealed self-efficacy belief as a boundary condition related to coworker incivility. Originality/Value With a focus on emotional exhaustion, this study addresses the call for a better understanding of the psychological mechanism involved in workplace incivility. Also, we discovered the role that personal resources play in mitigating the negative effects of coworker incivility. Finally, we extend the literature by theorizing the boundary conditions of coworker incivility using the JD-R approach.
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Actual and perceived social isolation are both associated with increased risk for early mortality. In this meta-analytic review, our objective is to establish the overall and relative magnitude of social isolation and loneliness and to examine possible moderators. We conducted a literature search of studies (January 1980 to February 2014) using MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Social Work Abstracts, and Google Scholar. The included studies provided quantitative data on mortality as affected by loneliness, social isolation, or living alone. Across studies in which several possible confounds were statistically controlled for, the weighted average effect sizes were as follows: social isolation odds ratio (OR) = 1.29, loneliness OR = 1.26, and living alone OR = 1.32, corresponding to an average of 29%, 26%, and 32% increased likelihood of mortality, respectively. We found no differences between measures of objective and subjective social isolation. Results remain consistent across gender, length of follow-up, and world region, but initial health status has an influence on the findings. Results also differ across participant age, with social deficits being more predictive of death in samples with an average age younger than 65 years. Overall, the influence of both objective and subjective social isolation on risk for mortality is comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality. © The Author(s) 2015.
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Loneliness is a distressing emotional state that motivates individuals to renew and maintain social contact. It has been suggested that lonely individuals suffer from a cognitive bias towards social threatening stimuli. However, current models of loneliness remain vague on how this cognitive bias is expressed in lonely individuals. The current review provides an up-to-date overview of studies examining loneliness in relation to various aspects of cognitive functioning. These studies are interpreted in light of the Social Information Processing (SIP) model. A wide range of studies indicate that lonely individuals have a negative cognitive bias in all stages of SIP. More specifically, lonely individuals have an increased attention for social threatening stimuli, hold negative and hostile intent attributions, expect rejection, evaluate themselves and others negatively, endorse less promotion- and more prevention-oriented goals, and have a low self-efficacy. This negative cognitive bias seems specific to the social context. Avenues for future research and implications for clinical practice are discussed.
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Social relationships are adaptive and crucial for survival. This review presents existing evidence that our social connections to others have powerful influences on health and longevity and that lacking social connection qualifies as a risk factor for premature mortality. A systems perspective is presented as a framework by which to move social connection into the realm of public health. Individuals, and health-relevant biological processes, exist within larger social contexts including the family, neighborhood and community, and society and culture. Applying the social ecological model, this review highlights the interrelationships of individuals within groups in terms of understanding both the causal mechanisms by which social connection influences physical health and the ways in which this influence can inform potential intervention strategies. A systems approach also helps identify gaps in our current understanding that may guide future research. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Psychology Volume 69 is January 4, 2018. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
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A robust body of scientific evidence has indicated that being embedded in high-quality close relationships and feeling socially connected to the people in one's life is associated with decreased risk for all-cause mortality as well as a range of disease morbidities. Despite mounting evidence that the magnitude of these associations is comparable to that of many leading health determinants (that receive significant public health resources), government agencies, health care providers and associations, and public or private health care funders have been slow to recognize human social relationships as either a health determinant or health risk marker in a manner that is comparable to that of other public health priorities. This article evaluates current evidence (on social relationships and health) according to criteria commonly used in determining public health priorities. The article discusses challenges for reducing risk in this area and outlines an agenda for integrating social relationships into current public health priorities.
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Quality clinical placement experiences have been associated with nurses' workplace social capital. Social capital is broadly understood as the social organisation of trust, norms and networks that benefit society. Building social capital in the workplace may benefit experiences of staff and students. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of building workplace social capital on student nurse perceptions of clinical learning experiences. A quality improvement process was measured through repeated student surveys. First, second, third year students (n = 1176) from three universities completed a validated Student Clinical Leaning Culture Survey (SCLCS) following their placement, at the commencement of quality improvement initiatives and five years later. The SCLCS measured students' perceptions of social affiliation, their motivation, satisfaction and dissatisfaction with clinical contexts. The first year of systematic changes focused on increasing student numbers along with improving communication, trust and knowledge sharing, antecedents to workplace social capital. No change was evident after the first year. Six years after commencement of building workplace social capital differences across all subscales, except dissatisfaction, were significant (p < 0.001). Leadership that promotes open communication and connections across staff and students to achieve common goals can build workplace social capital that enhances student placement experiences.
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This qualitative case study adopted the position that health and health behaviors are complex social constructs influenced by multiple factors. Framed by the social ecological model, the study explored how work interactions enhanced or detracted from the perceptions of well-being and health behaviors. Despite the fact that previous studies indicated that the social workplace environment contributed to employee health, there was little information regarding the characteristics. Specifically, little was known about how employees perceived the connections between workplace interactions and health, or how social interactions enhanced or detracted from well-being and health behaviors. The participants included 19 volunteers recruited from four companies, who shared their experiences of workplace interactions through interviews and journaling assignments. The findings indicated that feelings of well-being were enhanced by work interactions, which were trusting, collaborative, and positive, as well as when participants felt valued and respected. The study also found that interactions detracted from well-being and health behaviors when interactions lacked the aforementioned characteristics, and also included lack of justice and empathy. The enhancing and detracting relationships generated physical symptoms, and influenced sleeping and eating patterns, socializing, exercise, personal relations, careers, and energy. Surprisingly, the study found that regardless of how broadly participants defined health, when they were asked to rate their health, participants uniformly rated theirs on physical attributes alone. The exclusive consideration of physical attributes suggests that participants may have unconsciously adopted the typical western medical view of health - an individually determined and physiologic characteristic. Despite research suggesting health is more than biology, and despite defining health broadly, participants uniformly adopted this traditional view. The study also offers human resource development professionals with evidence supporting interventions aimed at minimizing workplace incivility. Interventions designed to improve employee engagement could minimize financial and human costs of negative interactions. The bottom line is that workplaces should be physically, emotionally, and psychologically safe for well-being and healthy behaviors to flourish.