What is workplace social connectedness, and why does it matter?


Workplace harmony is possibly the hardest piece of the managerial puzzle to get right. It can succeed in spite of itself or fail spectacularly despite great effort.

Researchers have finally put their finger on a key ingredient to give it the best chance of blossoming: workplace social connectedness. If you haven’t heard the term before, it’s the measure and experience of belonging and relatedness between people. This is the sum of various people interactions, from collaborating with a manager to asking a colleague out for lunch.

By being more socially connected, your people are more likely to learn from each other, sharing and combining their thoughts more freely. Stronger relationships at work help us to feel more at ease in sharing our concerns and ideas, seeking new information, and can give us more confidence to speak out if there’s something that can be done more efficiently and effectively.

This kind of confidence has been labelled as ‘psychological safety’, something a person feels when they can be comfortable being themselves.

Feeling comfortable to share and speak with your colleagues can help us feel more valued and connected to our workplace. The knock-on benefits can help our individual mental wellbeing, as well as contribute to the improvement of the team dynamic. This in turn helps our ability to overcome inhibitions in working through problems and experimenting with solutions. Research suggests that a socially connected team, with enhanced learning and collaboration, can help an organisation achieve a competitive edge.

View our employee article which includes some tips on how to improve relationships at work.


Carmeli A, Brueller D and Dutton J., Learning Behaviours in the Workplace: The Role of High-quality Interpersonal Relationships and Psychological Safety. Systems Research and Behavioural Science Syst. Res. 26, 81-98 (2009).

Edmondson AC. Psychological safety and learning behavior in work teams. Administrative Science Quarterly. 1999, pp 44: 350–383.

Nair KU. Adaptation to creation: progress of organizational learning and increasing complexity of learning systems. Systems Research and Behavioural Science. 2001, Volume 18, pp 505–521.

Van Bel, D. Smolders, K. Ijsselsteijn, W. et al. Social connectedness: concept and measurement. [accessed February 2017] Available from: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org

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