Faculty News & Research

How to Create Interactions to Help Returning Workers’ Well-Being

Tags: COVID-19

As more companies return to in-person workplaces, effective leaders should act to bolster employees’ sense of belonging, according to a new essay.

Writing in the MIT Sloan Management Review, Ross School of Business Professors Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks and Maxim Sytch propose that leaders design “immensely human interactions” to meet employees’ needs for meaningful connections with others. 

“IHIs are moments in which social interactions, including those in the course of the workday, are interwoven with empathy, curiosity, and humility. They can take place both during and outside of the traditional meetings required for collaborative work. Done right, IHIs help grow and nurture profound ties with coworkers and can help rebuild lost feelings of connection and culture at work,” the authors write.

The essay explains six specific strategies for creating these interactions:

  • Reinvigorate strong ties
  • Infuse serendipity at work
  • Engage in the practices of high-quality connections
  • Run “humility huddles”
  • Embody curiosity with purpose
  • Enable people to share their stories

“The COVID-19 crisis and the disruptions it inflicted on our social and professional lives have upended our sense of belonging. And while the damage is not irreparable, it would be a mistake to assume that simply returning to the old physical space or professional norms will suffice. By designing IHI moments, leaders can promote employee wellness and avoid exacerbating the decline in social connectedness being felt by many of their employees and even customers,” the authors write.

Featured Faculty

Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks
  • William Russell Kelly Professor of Business Administration
  • Professor of Management and Organizations
Maxim Sytch
  • Professor of Management and Organizations