Our biological need to bond and be in a human environment may change expression, but it is vital to who we are, says Derek Irvine.

We are social beings and our workplaces are small societies. With the growth of social media over recent years, human connections in day-to-day life have strengthened, and this is now overflowing into business life. If you think about it, the need to socialise and connect with other people was hardwired into humans long before Facebook. From swapping stories around the campfire 10,000 years ago to sharing pictures on Instagram in the modern day, our biological need to bond and be in a human environment may change expression, but it is vital to who we are.

Millennials, in particular, are prone to sharing information of all kinds, and the habits are not limited to their personal lives. Soon this age group will make up the majority of the workforce, which will create an even more social work culture than we know now. Businesses need to recognise this and make a conscious effort to help employees foster connections and friendships within their organisation. If organisations can bind employees together with colleagues and give positive reinforcement, employees become more content and are free to do their life’s best work. According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, esteem or self-worth is a fundamental human need. Research shows that once you satisfy core human needs, people are freer to be more creative and innovative. As a result, the aggregate work of the employee base goes up, and they're more energised.

Breaking down social barriers and adding social recognition can play a vital role in making the workplace a more human and enjoyable place to be. Today, working in teams and across different functions is becoming a norm. With the focus shifting from individual contribution to team work, it is even more imperative to foster an environment where employees appreciate each other and stay connected. When a company encourages peers to recognise each other, it fosters a much more positive, social, and human environment. It blankets an organisation with goodwill where employees feel connected to each other and develop a strong sense of belonging. Not only that, peer to peer social recognition can be a great tool to seek performance feedback from everyone in the company – not just the managers. By implementing peer-to-peer feedback, companies gain better insight into an individual's performance, boost employee morale, and creates a culture that fosters more human connections in the workplace.

As well as making employees feel valued, social recognition can also improve business processes. Managers that use recognition systems to visualise social sharing often find that hidden patterns emerge. For example, a pattern of recognition between employees or departments that work together could show efficiencies in the workplace, and enable companies to identify high performing individuals or teams that work well.

A recognition system that provides continuous feedback from a varied selection of employees will ensure that reviews are current, thus creating a more human and realistic picture of each employees. As human beings, we want to contribute in workplaces that are positive, joyous and inclusive. Therefore, it’s important to appreciate and recognise the good work of your employees. Build a more human culture that gives people a voice and makes them feel connected to your organisation’s mission.

Derek Irvine, is VP of client strategy and consulting at Globoforce

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