When you start your day tomorrow, really pay attention to what people are doing around you – on your commute, in meetings, at lunch. What you’ll probably find: a sea of faces behind a screen. We’ve never been so connected in our personal lives and at work (think Slack, Zoom), yet in the age of digital dependence, we’re more isolated than ever.

While the occasional feeling of loneliness is a natural part of the human experience, research suggests global loneliness has intensified over the last few decades. In the US, the mean number of close friends dropped from 3 in 1985 to 2 in 2011, and over 46% of people report feeling lonely regularly. We’re living in the most connected time in human history, yet we meet fewer people in person and do so less often.

The Power of Community

With so many waking hours being spent in the workplace, it’s particularly important that inclusive communities be fostered within the office. 40% of people report feeling isolated at work, leading to lower levels of organizational commitment, engagement, and retention.

Companies see substantial benefits when employees feel they belong. In a recent study, having a high sense of belonging was linked to a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% reduction in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days. Employees who reported higher levels of belonging also showed a 167% increase in their employer promoter score, received double the raises, and 18 times more promotions.

Having close friends at work is also shown to result in bottom-line benefits for companies. Employees who report having a best friend at work are 7x more likely to be engaged in their jobs. Another study showed that 75% of employees with a best friend at work planned to stay in their organizations for at least another year compared with 51% who didn’t.

Acknowledging the value of belonging is the first step companies can take. While 84% of organizations rate employee experience as important, only 22% think they’re “excellent” at it. Meanwhile, 87% of organizations cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges.

Let’s take it offline.

Companies with an intentional strategy to build meaningful connections at work will reap higher levels of engagement, retention, and employee well-being. By supporting a diverse and engaged community, organizations break down silo walls and weave deep networks of coworker connections.

Grove’s community platform empowers companies to foster belonging through shared employee experiences and robust organizational insights. Schedule a demo with our team to learn more.