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Lack of ‘social capital’ impedes performance


Barriers to the development of ‘social capital’ in the workplace mean that half of UK employees feel that their work is not appreciated by their employer, research from the Workplace Intelligence Unit (WUI) has found.

The survey also discovered that many employees do not believe that their employer acts in their best interests, while 40% of respondents felt their colleagues did not value their time.

The findings were published in the WUI’s ‘Social Capital in the Workplace’ report, which analyses the factors barring the development of social capital and preventing a group of employees becoming an efficient team.

“Social capital itself can be summarised as the networks of interaction that we all instinctively understand as a sense of community,” it said.

The report found that email was the most commonly used form of communication, even within departments, ahead of face-to-face or telephone conversations. However, it added that the quality of interaction deteriorates the more remote a form of communication gets.

Limiting face-to-face communication can be detrimental, explained Ann Brewin, one of the founders of the WIU. “One of the great things about social capital is its impact on knowledge sharing,” she said. “It’s far more effective and cost efficient for people to learn from one another informally on a day-to-day basis than to implement formal training schemes.”

One Response

  1. Organisations need to encourage social capital growth and train
    Successful people in business all seem to stress the importance of building social capital, whether talking about mentoring, connecting across departments, asking for and giving feedback or just simply ‘networking’.

    While the introduction of online social networks internally can aid this process, the experience with email shows the pitfalls of relying solely on technology.

    Perhaps the time has come for organisations to be more proactive about encouraging such social capital building, both by training their staff how they can develop their network and by creating the opportunities for them to do so.

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