The Importance Of Social Interaction In The Workplace

I recently tweeted an article from “Management Today” about business owners looking after themselves, and the fact that the health of the business owner is integral to the health of the business.

This article got me thinking, and as I spend every day looking at people management issues it is easy to spot people who have stopped looking after themselves, believing that the good of the business is more important than their own wellbeing, whether that is their own business or they are working for someone else. The article specifically referred to diet, rest and exercise, as you would expect. It was a sensible article and there were lots of good points made, but I do think it missed out a key element of looking after yourself that many colleagues in the workplace value, and that is social interaction.

As a business owner and as an employee I have valued the social interaction offered within a business context at networking events and training sessions, as well as working within a team. I’m a true believer in learning from others and not re-inventing the wheel. As a Director of Plymouth and Devon Chamber of Commerce I have learned more about our City and our County, and running a business, than I would know purely through my own day to day working, and that has helped me really appreciate our local environment and our economic situation, and how we can all contribute.

I have found that the networking events offered by the Chamber and other local organisations have lead to meeting other business associates who have not only enhanced my own business but become genuine friends over the years. I have no doubt that social interactions in a business context boost the general well being of those participating, and have a positive economic effect alongside. Many of the people I have met through networking have either become trusted colleagues, suppliers or clients. Many have had a positive influence on my business in unpredictable ways.

Sitting alongside the area of health and wellbeing at work, is an article I read about millennials (Generation Y) and their attitude to working time. Interestingly research suggests that those born between 1982 and 2004 do not view their working hours in traditional ways. They mix and match their personal “admin” and social interactions (often online) with their traditional working time. This means they will be just as happy checking emails at midnight, as making a date with their friends as they walk between meetings. It’s something employers may need to tackle as it will be integral to the way those team members behave, and how they feel about work. For me that is just as much about wellbeing as any of the factors above such as diet, exercise, rest and social interaction.