Innate relationships within the organisation that make its functioning easy are known as social capital
Smooth functioning of an organization depends on the smooth relationships among its employees, and trust and good relationships among co-workers is like a lubricant that ensures its trouble-free and effortless functioning. When co-workers have belief and confidence in one another, deals move faster, teams are more efficient and there is a significant amount of knowledge sharing. These innate relationships within the organization that makes its functioningeasy are known as social capital. Investment in social capital is extremely important as it leads to better performance and adds to its bottom line.
Social capital between team members or different departments leads to higher mutual trust and greater flow of information for unified and coordinated action towards organizational goals which leads to organizational success and ultimately organizational happiness. Although there is no way to guarantee that, the combination of all of these factors is likely to result in an increase in revenue for the company because the work processes become better coordinated and effective.
Actively rotating members between different teams and different projects can not only boost the social capital within the organization but will give a new point of view to already established working methods in the teams. It can also enrich employees as they get to mingle with different people and continuously learn from different projects. Regular inter-departmental meetings and frequent business trips to other branch offices are also other ways of developing relationships among employees. These processes help employees to become conduit of knowledge and information from other departments to their own functional areas.
In order to develop social capital in an organization, it is imperative to organize team building and workshops as frequently as possible. These workshops do not necessarily have to be large, even impromptu gatherings to appreciate the employees and make them realize that they are a part of something meaningful is a great step forward. Workshops can be conducted once in every quarter. The whole team can usually go somewhere far from the office and spend a couple of days together. Usually, during the first day, there can be discussions about vision of the company for the future, sharing of new ideas and innovations between the team members, and then engaging in cross-team activities. Several team-building activities, work-related presentations and finally various fun games also make this a great time for employees.
Covid-19 has changed how we all work. Virtuality is the new name of the game. From work from homes, virtual teams and virtual meetings, employees have become tech warriors, who have become isolated from their work environment. Uncertainty about continuation of employment has added fuel to the fire. To make matters worse, the volatility of the present business world enhanced by the rise of disruptive technologies, ever changing strategies, and a high rate of mergers and acquisitions are alienating employees and make it even harder to establish trust. Both virtuality and volatility are eroding the very essence of a successful organization - great relationships. To overcome such imminent situations, organizations must definitely invest in social capital. This could be done in three different ways - building connections, facilitating trust, and nurturing cooperation. Commitment to retention of employees is the hallmark of organizations that value social capital. They provide non-work areas for teams to build connections with one another, like sports and recreation facilities, health centres and child care centres, to develop a sense of community. Facilitating trust should also be a careful attempt by organisations. Displaying trust and trustful behaviour should be a part of the organizational culture, and employees should be rewarded for their successes that they built on trusting behaviour. Fostering cooperation is also vital in developing social capital as it develops a common sense of purpose. Johnson & Johnson’s US business provides a good example of this, as they place their employees at the second priority after customers, and above the community and other stakeholders. This helps to percolate a sense of bonding among employees of all its group companies.
For sustainable growth of any business, social capital through trust and relationships is the necessity of the corporate world in present times. This can lead to improved collaboration within and between different teams and produce continuously improving results for any business. Building trust and social capital takes times. It is what an organization does right, every time, and for a long time. If the employees use the pronouns “we” and “us”, instead of “they” or “them” it can be recognized that the organization has successfully invested in and developed social capital.
(The writer is Associate Professor at Amity University, Noida. The views expressed are personal.)