Social interactions in the workplace are about more than just having random conversations and catching up with your colleagues. They also offer opportunities to foster personal relationships and establish an engaged workforce. With so many companies offering workplace flexibility these days, it is becoming increasingly difficult to build and retain meaningful employee relationships. So how can you balance the two?
Social bookends can go a long way to helping build relationships with your team, no matter where they are located. This guide will define social bookends and how they can drive employee engagement and retention rates.
What is a Social Bookend?
Have you ever interacted with one or more colleagues for a few minutes before your quarterly sales meeting about personal matters? If so, then you understand what a social bookend is. According to Ed Stevens, Founder & CEO of Scoot, a social bookend is the simple act of adding five to 10 minutes before or after a meeting for social networking and conversation.
Rather than waiting for your monthly social gathering or happy hour, adding in five minutes daily to a meeting will over time accumulate into a healthy amount of social activity. And giving your team daily opportunities to get to know each other and have fun will go a long way towards building a closer knit team who works well together.
They can be casual, organic conversation, or you may choose to lead a small group activity. We’ll dive into the specifics later on.
Importance of Social Bookends
A TNW study on remote work found that more than half of the respondents experienced recurring loneliness. Additionally, almost half of the survey takers said that social connections were somewhat important to them. The findings are intriguing but not surprising. In an era where remote work is redefining our job culture, it is vital to use small talk as a way to strengthen employee relationships and build trust.
While short, social bookends offer an opportunity for employees to grow closer by cultivating personal relationships. For managers, these moments can provide valuable insight into their workers, including what they like, what makes them happy, and what they hope to accomplish. For employees, it’s about discovering similarities and enjoying their interactions. Over time, these short conversations will accumulate to help you build stronger relationships with your colleagues.
You might be tempted to believe that a few minutes of casual dialogue is meaningless. Perhaps you think that chit-chats are a waste of time that lead nowhere and distract workers from their responsibilities. But you’re wrong. In a study on office chit-chat, Patrick Downes, assistant professor of management at the University of Kansas, found that small talk improved workers’ positive social emotions at work.
How To Conduct Social Bookends for Virtual Meetings
When done properly and organically, social bookends can become drivers of employee engagement. While informal dialogue sounds simple, preparing ahead of time will save you the trouble of dealing with ineffective communication and a constrained workforce. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your social bookends before and after virtual gatherings.
- Select an appropriate conversation starter or icebreaker
Maybe you notice that your team struggles to take the first step and engage in casual conversations. In this case, it would be helpful to step in and initiate a conversation starter for the first five to 10 minutes. Since you have a good idea of the level of interaction and engagement your workers present, you can use your observations to propose topics for discussion.
These can include favorite hobbies, upcoming weekend plans, newly-released shows/movies, and personal goals. The most important thing is to get the conversation going.
2. Or jump into small group activities
If your team needs more help getting started, try moving into a group activity that everyone can enjoy. After all, who doesn’t love a good mood booster that brings out the competitive nature of an employee? Some options for activities include Two Truths & a Lie, Video Charades, Time Traveler, Teammate Trivia, and virtual scavenger hunts.
Remember to keep your selections quick, lighthearted and easy to understand. Your employees should feel comfortable expressing themselves through group activities, and the goal is to have fun and get to know each other better.
3. Utilize active listening
To cultivate casual dialogue that strengthens employee engagement and retention, your workers should receive your full attention. Active listening allows you to remain engaged and immersed in what the presenter is saying. When your employees realize that you are tuned in to what they are conveying, they feel valued and appreciated.
- Stay away from controversial topics
The world is cluttered with unpleasant topics that make it difficult for us to embrace happiness and remain optimistic about the future. As an employer, the last thing you should do is ask attendees to discuss their political opinions, religious beliefs, finances, or relationship problems.
Small talk should be friendly, light, and respectful. Your workers should never feel vulnerable or violated because of a conversation.
- Keep it short
Small talks are meant to lighten the virtual room, get attendees comfortable with each other, and set a proper tone. They are not meant to go on endlessly. Keep them short, simple, and straight to the point. You don’t want your attendees nodding over once your slides are on the screen.
Host Engaging Virtual Meetings With Scoot
Social Bookends can improve employee engagement and retention rates by fostering personnel connections in the workplace. To accomplish this, you need an innovative platform that enhances natural interactions. Here at Scoot, we can be your one-stop solution for better dialogue. Our virtual meeting platform offers attendees the opportunity to move, mingle, and meet anywhere in the virtual space. Users can move around the room freely from one conversation to the next, instead of being stuck in a grid of silent gray boxes.
Scoot was build to help promote a culture of appreciation and personal value. Contact us to learn more or to schedule a demo.