Managing director and PR, marketing & communications consultant Amy Bell from Hey Me tells us why meaningful interactions at work are vital right now.
Whether you realise it or not, interactions happen constantly at work. These can be social, i.e., coffee cooler moments, personal, i.e., friendships through work, and business-related, i.e., meetings, etc. They happen verbally, in written formats, and most recently digitally, through apps like Zoom, as we move into remote ways of working.
But why are positive interactions so important? The simple answer is that interactions are how business gets done efficiently.
Positive interactions improve engagement, ensure that people feel appreciated, and provide a supportive working environment where people feel at ease. By contrast, negative interactions can lead to higher sickness absence, reports of bullying and harassment, and negative perceptions of the workplace.
Often, work involves engaging with multiple stakeholders. So, it’s vital to build a variety of strong relationships to boost morale and productivity across the entire business. As people’s time is in demand more than ever, interactions need to be meaningful, helpful, useful, and concise – gone are the days of four hour meetings that achieve nothing.
In addition to the above, people are generally social beings who have an inherent desire to build relationships with others and to feel part of something. During the pandemic, a lack of social interactions has been a real struggle for some people. Having opportunities to talk regularly is important in preventing emotions from being bottled up, and in creating a sense of solidarity.
In a period of uncertainty, there’s never been a better time for businesses to encourage positive conversations. So, how can we encourage fruitful interactions right now?
Regularly seek feedback
It’s more important than ever to ensure people don’t feel out of the loop – especially with so many of us still working remotely. Encouraging honest conversations, and regularly seeking feedback to support employees, is a vital recipe for more meaningful interactions. This could involve regular Q&A sessions with managers, or even asking employees how they want to interact, so you communicate with them in a way that best suits them.
Create a clear brand proposition
A clear brand proposition promotes a better understanding of the business and the role individuals play in it. When people understand their ‘place’ in their environment, and how they can add value, they are much more comfortable in their interactions and are less likely to cause conflict unnecessarily.
Put interactions at the forefront of HR
Interactions are at the heart of HR. HR have to balance a great deal such as, legal implications, different viewpoints, and supporting employees through difficult personal scenarios and tough business decisions. If these communications are delivered with dignity and respect, they can lead to more positive interactions.
Encourage social interactions
Having friends at work increases engagement. The reward of being able to interact with work friends can be highly motivating and benefits the business by creating a thriving company culture. Social interactions can also minimise stress. If an employee feels the need to get something off their chest, speaking to a friend can soften the blow. Equally, when navigating the ups and downs of work, it’s important to have colleagues to lean on.
Social events are a great way of cultivating friendships, and although it’s more difficult than normal to host them at the moment, there are some easy ways to encourage social interactions at work:
- Digital water coolers – Create a virtual place to discuss out-of-work topics like recipes and pets. This will keep the conversation flowing and help employees bond with one another over mutual interests.
- Digital coffee breaks – Set up 15-minute digital coffee breaks to encourage people to take time out to speak to one another on a social level.
In some cases, it’s about developing the right skills to provide interactions that help manage change and build relationships. Hey Me have created toolkits do just that, by providing you with guides, templates and documents to simplify your interactions and make them more successful. Find out about our toolkits now.