Episode No. 131
  •  February 1, 2024

Social Capital

Creating a Culture of Connection at Work

In the world of work, where productivity and success are often measured in tangible outcomes, the concept of social capital emerges as a crucial element. It goes beyond the conventional understanding of networking and friendships, delving into the interconnected networks, shared norms, and trust that form the glue holding people and organizations together.  And there are chickens . . . .

Show Notes

Crina begins with a story about her husband, Barry, that illustrates what can be the natural and organic creation of social capital. Despite facing skepticism from some team members who deemed it a waste of time, Barry’s emphasis on communication among co-workers is creating a cultural shift at his work, fostering collaboration and teamwork. This anecdote parallels a study of chickens, yes, chicken!  The study reveals that individual productivity, while initially successful, ultimately hampers overall success when it comes at the cost of suppressing others and focusing on self.

Robert Putnam’s research at Harvard helps us understand that social capital extends beyond the workplace, encompassing community bonds and shared values. It differs from mere friendship or networking, encompassing trust and reciprocity – and it is kind of all of those things rolled into one. Social capital is a catalyst for societal well-being, impacting employment levels, academic performance, physical health, economic growth, and even crime rates – and really impactful to teams. 

Research highlights the numerous benefits of social capital in the workplace, including lower turnover, improved performance, increased knowledge transfer, innovation, and career mobility. 

Social capital at work looks like giving, connecting, and valuing others’ expertise without expecting immediate returns is emphasized. It’s about building trust and authenticity through reliability, transparency, vulnerability, and empathy.  Social capital is not a quid pro quo – or you scratch my back and I will scratch yours.

However, the downside of social capital is also acknowledged. Tight-knit networks may inadvertently exclude non-members and create conformity pressures, potentially limiting personal freedoms.

Social capital is not just a soft skill but an imperative for individuals and organizations. It involves creating a culture that values relationships, fosters trust, and recognizes the unique contributions of individuals. In the dance of productivity and success – and well being –  social capital gets us a long way to creating a harmonious and thriving workplace experience.