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Building a Culture of Connection

This article originally appeared on the BeWell website. Visit BeWell to learn more about more about connections and employee health and wellness.

With over 25 schools and VP areas at Stanford, approximately 600 buildings, and an employee population of over 14,000 faculty and staff, it can be a challenge to build connections with others outside your immediate work group or department. Many even struggle to get connected with those they see each and every day.

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Because we spend about 30 percent of our time at work, it’s important to understand the effects that positive (or negative) connections can have in our working lives.

Consider these facts:

  • Having positive connections in the workplace reduces stress hormones and increases the neurotransmitters responsible for attention, feelings of pleasure and trust, and keeping fear and worry at bay.
  • Those who are happy at work are more engaged and therefore more productive.
  • Those who work in a collaborative and connected environment are more willing to contribute new and bold ideas that lead to better results.
  • Mortality rates are significantly lower among employees who report peer social support in the workplace.

In a recent article on workplace stress, Jeffrey Pfeffer, the Thomas D. Dee II Professor in the Graduate School of Business, shared that “hosting social events and building a strong workplace culture that permits people to share their personal lives with one another is one way to improve social connections.” He goes on to say, “Allowing employees the opportunity to find social support on the job is another great way to reduce workplace stress.”

Tips to Build Connections in Your Work Group

As you can see, forming and maintaining positive connections in the workplace is important not only for work performance but also for our physical, mental and emotional health.

Within the office, there are many things you can do to forge positive connections with your colleagues.

Some actions to consider:

  • Recognize that everyone has varying needs for connection
  • Identify shared interests
  • Be present and fully attentive
  • Emphasize positives
  • Express your thanks
  • Provide feedback using constructive language
  • Practice “Hi” and “Goodbye”
  • Practice empathy
  • Connect over lunch or department social events
  • Proactively help others
  • Expect the best in people
  • Negotiate to solve problems, not to win

Tips to Build Connections in the Stanford Community

Cardinal at Work

In addition to these ways to connect with others in your immediate work group or department, you also have a variety of opportunities to connect with others across schools and VP areas.

The Connect subsite in the Cardinal at Work website has details about:

Classes, Workshops and More

Attending classes and workshops at Stanford can also be a great way to make a few new connections beyond your work group. Check out a few of the offerings:

Community Events at Stanford this Spring

Bring your family, friends and colleagues and join the Stanford Community at these fun and festive spring events:

We encourage you to check out the resources listed above, and set a goal to try one new action to get connected at Stanford this month. Whether it’s attending a university event, participating in the #CardinalConnect contest, or having lunch with a colleague, these simple practices can really add up when it comes to your overall sense of well-being and happiness at work.


Carlson, 1998; Rosenthal and Jacobson, 1992; Resnick, 1997; Cohen, 1997; Berkman, 1979; Baumeister, 2003; MacArthur Foundation Study, 1998

LaPlante, A. (2011, April 1). If money doesn’t make you happy, consider time Retrieved from

Crow, T. (2014, January 2). Workplace leadership: Emotional connection leads to higher employee productivity. Retrieved from

Dutton, J. (2003, Winter). Fostering high-quality connections. Retrieved from

Shirom, Arie; Toker, Sharon; Alkaly, Yasmin; Jacobson, Orit; Balicer, (2011). Work-based predictors of mortality: A 20-year follow-up of healthy employees. RanHealth Psychology, 30(3), 268-275.

Stallard, M. L. (2015). Connection culture. Alexandria, VA: ATD Press