“Psychologists have long identified the desire to feel connected to others as a basic human need, and interpersonal relationships have a significant impact on our mental health, health behavior, physical health, and mortality risk.”
-Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy - Umberson & Montez, 2010
For most of us, we spend at least 8 hours a day working. In the last two years specifically, some or all of those hours may be spent working remotely from home, the local coffee shop, or a temporary office. This is approximately half of our waking hours, and that’s assuming you get the recommended 8 hours of sleep. That has also been affected since the Spring of 2020. World pandemics have a habit of throwing traditional schedules and routines out the window.
If we’re spending a third of our lives - half of our waking hours - involved in work activity, the hope would be that our interactions with our co-workers and colleagues would then help enrich and enhance the other aspects of our lives. As indicated in the findings above, a great deal of research has been done on the correlations between our overall health - physically and mentally - and feeling connected to one another.
As the likelihood that our interactions with co-workers have been taking place less and less exclusively in person, that means we are relying more and more on various forms of electronic communication; email, video conferencing, instant messaging, social media platforms, the developing metaverse, mobile devices, etc. Once considered impersonal, “cold”, and/or even inhumane, the tools of electronic communication are slowly evolving to have a more personal look and feel to them.
In this article, we’ll be exploring how social interaction, specifically within workplace organizations, can affect aspects such as attendance, and even when it can drive colleagues to leave our workplace entirely, leading to lower employee retention.
The New Water Cooler
In his article, “The Death of Water Cooler Conversations”, Torin Rittenberg, the Director of Growth at Branch - a workspace and home office furniture dealer based in New York, NY - mused, “The water cooler and its associated impromptu discussions have been staples of office culture since the dawn of time. But changes in the workplace and the topics that were once the most popular have forced it to take a backseat in modern offices…It used to be that within office environments, most would get their own cubicle. Having this isolated space meant that the water cooler was one of the only places where employees would be able to spark up a conversation with one another.”
My, how times have changed.
With the transition from individual offices to cubicles, and then to an “open office” format, to the present day where many of us are working partly or completely removed from a physical, central office space, the electronic tools and platforms we use to individually and collectively get our work done appear to have become the new water cooler. Now admittedly, at the outset of this “digital transformation”, these tools were quite rudimentary and very much lacked the human touch.
When emails began to replace face-to-face interactions or even a phone call, many of us knew the dread of returning to our desks after being away for a few hours, let alone a few days. The fear and frustration of seeing dozens, or possibly hundreds, of unread emails waiting for us to sift through, and try and quickly determine which ones needed to be responded to, and in what order. We became conditioned to type out detailed email responses that took minutes at a time versus picking up the phone or walking down the hall.
That transition, removing the human element of seeing, speaking, and listening in person, to conducting our interactions via an electronic interface started laying the groundwork for feeling removed, distant, and “out of touch” with our fellow human counterparts. In the 1998 study, “The Social Brain Hypothesis” by Robin Dubar, a Professor of Evolutionary Psychology and Behavioral Ecology, he suggested that when individuals experience social pain in the workplace from feeling isolated, the region of the brain that is activated is the same as if physical pain had been experienced.
That should concern all of us, even more so present-day as circumstances beyond our control have necessitated this partial or complete change of workplace venue.
Burned Out, Sick and Tired
In a 2021 survey conducted by Indeed.com, “Employee Burnout Report: COVID-19’s Impact and 3 Strategies to Curb It”, the links between the global pandemic, the transition to a remote workforce, and increased issues of “burn out”, usage of sick days, and higher instances of employee turnover, are brought into focus.
Indeed surveyed 1,500 U.S. workers across a variety of age groups, experience levels, and industries. This was then compared to survey data from January 2020 (pre-pandemic) and as you might expect, a number of startling revelations appeared:
- 67% of all workers believe burnout worsened during the pandemic
- 52% of survey respondents experienced burnout in 2021 - up from the 43% in the pre-COVID survey
- 53% of millennials (anyone born between 1981-1996) were already burned out pre-COVID, increasing to 59% experiencing in 2021
- 58% of Gen Z (anyone born between 1997-2012) report feelings of burnout, up from 47% who said the same in 2020
- Baby boomers (anyone born between 1946-1964) show a 7% increase in burnout from pre-pandemic levels (24%) to 2021 (31%)
- 54% of Gen Xers (anyone born between 1965-1980) are currently burned out — a 14% jump from the 40% who felt this way in 2020
Most likely this phenomenon is not unique specifically to workers in the United States, but rather to varying degrees being experienced by workforce staff around the globe.
A reevaluation of priorities, by both employees and employers, has taken place. Retaining employees is no longer simply about salaries and perks, it’s about overall health and wellness, flexible work options, diversity and inclusion, and enabling positive social interaction opportunities throughout the workday.
On that last point - enabling positive social interactions - how can that be done as the workforce becomes increasingly based off-site with less and less in-person physical interaction? Let’s take a look.
Enhancing the Employee Social Experience
Positive social relationships between employees have been demonstrated to increase productivity and work satisfaction. Individuals within an organization want to feel both connected to, and supported by their peers.
The “enhancing the employee social experience” refers to the wholistic effect the digital tools and platforms of communication, sharing, and productivity offered by an employer has upon their employees. If the tools available to an employee allow them not only to complete their responsibilities more easily and proficiently but simultaneously instill a feeling that is more “human” while keeping them engaged with their colleagues, there are wins all around.
Certainly, an employer wants their employees to remain engaged, happy, and productive. However, most “social platforms” used by the general public, are not designed with a keen awareness of productivity and efficiency. Think your Accounting department would be most likely to simultaneously reconcile outstanding accounts while scrolling through Facebook? Or might TikTok really be the best route for your Operations Team to start discussing their next sprint?
Obviously, the answer is “no” in both cases. Those are extreme examples, but we think you understand our point. Now, what if there was a social intranet that exemplified the “digital workplace experience”, allowing work to proceed while keeping your workers collectively and happily engaged with one another even though they are now spread out all over the globe? And it probably goes without saying, your staff needs to be able to access it seamlessly via desktop or laptop, iPad, or mobile phone.
There is. Welcome to Linchpin Hey by Seibert Media.
“Social Means More Than Just Likes and Comments”
That headline sums up Linchpin Hey beautifully and succinctly. Consider it your central workplace hub for your daily business; company news, posts, events, profiles, send and share kudos and company happiness, stories, and more. Think of it like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn brought together all in one platform, all with a professional touch.
Let’s take a closer look at the features and elements that make Linchpin Hey uniquely suited for workplace social activities at many levels.
- People - Create your company's social meeting place and get out and about, even in the digital age.
- News - Fill the news portal with exciting insights into your projects and always stay up to date.
- Posts - Share your thoughts with colleagues and create more opportunities for exchange in your company.
- Events - Organize events and make your company more collaborative.
- Profiles - Use your profile to introduce yourself to your colleagues and learn more about your crew. Fill out your profile with the most important information about yourself. Let your crew know what skills you have and help everyone in the company find the right contact person. Learn more about the people you work with on a daily basis and find your way around your company. Or discover common interests and hobbies and make new friends.
- Company Happiness - Stay up to date on how your colleagues are doing with Linchpin Hey. Identifying the general mood in a company is not always easy. To make such a feeling tangible, a mood indicator helps. What issues are employees concerned about? What can be improved? Answers to these questions help create transparency and identify blind spots. They promote exchange among employees and provide room for new ideas.
- Kudos - Put a smile on the faces of your colleagues with a 'Thank You'. Whether you're in the office, at home, or on the road, a tile on the home page shows who would be happy to receive congratulations today or who you can wish a great start at the company with one click (Coming Soon).
- Stories - Use Stories in Linchpin Hey and share special moments with your colleagues. The best way to generate attention for an experience is to create a story - a photo or short video that is available for 24 hours and can be accompanied by a short text. A story can be used to draw attention to a company event, celebrate a project completion, or introduce yourself as a new team member.
- Theming - Express the character of your company digitally and create more identification.
- Launchpad - Quickly and easily find the apps you need for your workday.
- Social Happenings - Show your colleagues that you care about them and wish them happy anniversaries and birthdays or welcome them to your company.
Feature-rich, Driven By Your Team’s Social Content
Linchpin Hey helps you take those first steps introducing yourself, meeting and greeting your colleagues, in the digital realm of your workplace. Consider it your organization’s social meeting place that allows for creativity and innovation in the context of social exchange.
Similar to other social media platforms, posts allow for the social exchange of information. However in this context, these exchanges are not only interest-based, they can easily be used when communicating around a team or departmental project or initiative. Rather than desperately trying to read through and follow an extensive email thread - especially if you are joining midway through - discussions can be organized by topic in a persistent manner. This makes it much easier to follow along and join the conversation no matter when you join in.
If you’re familiar with the proverb of old, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, the experience of the last two years has taught us that while it’s just as important as ever to complete tasks at hand completely and thoroughly, it’s certainly possible to inject some humor and personality into it. We may not be there to give a handshake or pat on the back to that colleague who pulled the team together to wrap up the latest sprint, but it sure feels good to put a smile on their face via a tile on the homepage with a congratulations everyone can join in on.
You can even keep an eye on the overall mood of your staff and receive feedback on issues of concern to them. Your impressions, interpretation, and suggested actions can then be shared via the news channel keeping everyone up to date.
Linchpin Hey is a standalone solution that runs on your desktop or laptop browser, or on your iOS or Android device. For those that are already Confluence and/or Jira Cloud users, Linchpin Hey can be integrated with your instances to show issues and pages on the dashboard.
The Next Step
As we’ve seen, now more than ever, positive, engaging social interaction is critical in the workplace. Tools like Linchpin Hey have finally come into their own as robust social platforms centered around your workplace environment. If you all can’t be there together, at least you can be in touch, engaged, excited, and empowered!
Interested in learning more about Linchpin Hey? Visit https://app.linchpin-hey.com/ to start the web version, or find us on the Apple AppStore or on the Google PlayStore. If you are already a Confluence Cloud Customer, check out our Linchpin Hey integration in the Atlassian Marketplace.
- What Defines Modern Intranets?
- How You Can Boost Social Interaction in Your Company – the Vision of Linchpin Hey, Our Social Intranet
- Social Interaction 2.0 – Linchpin Hey, the Social Intranet, Makes It Possible
- Linchpin Hey Is More Than a Social Intranet: From Congratulations and Hey Fives to Confetti
- Linchpin Hey – A new name and the path to a personalized social intranet
- Roadmap for Linchpin Hey: a glimpse into the future