social connectionsEating your veggies and having social connections – not just twitter followers or LinkedIn connects – are predictors of a longer life.  Dr. Emma Seppala makes these points in her Psychology Today article “Connect to Thrive”.  She summarizes studies that show social connections “create individuals who have higher self-esteem, are more emphatic to others, and, as a consequence, others are more trusting and cooperating with them.”

Inside her statement is the point that social connections directly contribute to positive workplace performance because it develops people who more considerate of co-workers and trust their co-workers’ when working together toward a common goal.  Other studies speak more specifically to proactively integrating social connectivity into the workplace.

In the joint study “Mere Belonging: the Power of Social Connections”, which was written by Stanford University and the University of Waterloo, researchers found that even fairly surface social connections cause people to internalize the goals and motivations of others.  Mere social linkages evoke a sense of working together on a challenging task, rather than the loneliness of working in parallel with others, increases intrinsic motivation, even if many of the tasks required for a collaborative product necessitate working alone on their contribution to the project.  When a business integrates effective strategies to enhance this feeling of social connectivity, this raises people motivation and positively increases workers’ overall achievement, not just on collaborative products.  In brief, an investment in social connection improves worker productivity.

In another study published in the Journal of Econometric Society, the writers directly explore the effects of social relationships between individuals within a firm on the productivity of individuals and on the firm’s overall performance. Social connections increase the flow of information throughout a business and facilitate joint problem solving between employees in horizontal relationships and vertical relationships, such as management/workers.  In fact, they suggest that fostering social ties between management and workers is cheaper than using monetary incentives to retain workers.  Other ThinkingIntegral posts that talk about social connection and financial benefit are “Creating Communication with Genuine Style”, “Emotional Intelligence and Effectiveness” and “Personal Growth Trumps Financial Gain”.

So why does our psyche so value social connectedness even though American culture heavily promotes individualism.  The answer is in our development all the way from our time as primates to now.  Social connections among primates increase security and food gathering.  Social connections in tribes promote security and food gathering.  The innate need for social connections within a nation, social connections within a family, social connections at work all point back to our primal need for security, food and fulfillment.

Social connections create successful civilizations.  History points to it.  Social connections at work create successful companies.  Experience points to it.