Create a Socially Vibrant Workplace
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There are numerous challenges that companies of all sizes face these days. The slow economic recovery has yielded layoffs, pay freezes, and other cut backs which can demoralize an office and reduce productivity.  Keeping employees happy and socially connected is an important challenge and fostering it can reduce unwanted turnover and create non-monetary incentives.  Not all of your employees have the desire to make friends at the office, but most will appreciate working around folks who stay connected.


I can say first hand that walking into a quiet office and cranking out assignments all day without any positive social interaction with co-workers creates a very lonely environment and soon leads to bitterness.  Also keep in mind that unhappy workers will soon have an empathetic view of a company and eventually leave.  


So whether you are an owner, partner, or other type of decision maker, the call to action is clearly laid out in these five tips to succeed at keeping employees happy and socially connected:


1. Host a lunch or cocktail hour on a monthly basis.  This will create a forum where you and your workers can catch up on non-work happenings.  Keep it simple and casual and see if you can get your more outgoing employees to keep the conversations going.  Soon you will see that these activities become a popular venue for social interaction.


2. Schedule an out-of-office gathering in the summer time. Many companies have their annual Christmas party and fail to do anything else outside of the office.  Arranging a get together in the summer is great because it provides an opportunity for an outdoor gathering.  Since many workers are indoors for the majority of the work week, hosting a picnic, hike, or other summer party will be appreciated.


3. Create periodic incentive contests for your employees.  These types of events great for increasing productivity and also get people talking about the challenge and their progress.  Just be sure not to promote personal contests such as weight loss to avoid offending any of your employees.


4. Organize group assignments whenever possible.  This will increase teamwork skills and give opportunities for co-workers to interact on a daily basis.


5. Create a Facebook, Twitter, or other social media outlet specifically for internal office use.  You probably already utilize a social media account for business and advertising, but you should also create one solely for your workers.  This will act as a virtual bulletin board and messaging center where co-workers can share their work progress and post personal news.  It’s also a great tool for recruiting new employees and then giving them a way to quickly get to know everyone.


For the very best results in creating a socially healthy work environment, just continue with the tips above. You will soon reap the benefits of a connected, energized, and loyal group of employees.  And almost equally important is that you will improve your own image as a confident, accessible, and caring boss.