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The Year of Social Connection

BY: Ryan Picarella, MS, SPHR // President & CEO • WELCOA

We need each other; it is core to our being human.

No matter our race, ethnicity, size, first language, religion, sexual orientation, or anything else that makes us unique, we as humans require the same basic needs. From an anthropological perspective some of these traits are known as cultural universals. One of these cultural universals is now WELCOA’s focus for 2020 – social connection.

As a student studying anthropology in northern Arizona, one of the first lessons I was taught was that we are more similar as humans than we are different. I have carried that perspective throughout my life and it has influenced how I view wellness from an organizational context. The implications of social connection on an organization’s health are undeniable. It is so important, in fact, that WELCOA’s new Well Workplace Checklist actually assesses the degree of social connection fostered in an organization as a measure of organizational health.

The research is clear; we need each other. Whether we are observing the secret to longevity, healthy communities, thriving organizations, or the power of friendship – one variable keeps popping up loud and clear: we thrive in community with one another. In other words, we are social creatures. We suffer when we are in environments that stifle social connection, and the opposite is also true. When social networks are established and intentionally prioritized, the people within these ecosystems flourish.

I recently had the distinct opportunity to keynote with organizational anthropologist Michael Henderson in New Zealand, and one of his main points regarding culture is that the word is derived from Latin and means “care.” Building a healthy culture must involve an intentional focus on creating and sustaining an organization that cares, which is one of the foundations of human connection and one of WELCOA’s core principles for each of our 7 Benchmarks (Strategic, Systematic and Caring/Empathetic). The more we learn about the impact of social connection on health, the more we at WELCOA are convinced that it is fundamental to fostering well-being and human performance in organizations. This year, we are leaning in to help our members ignite more social connections across their organization.

We have a great 2020 planned for WELCOA members. All year long we will be inviting you to share your stories. Interact with WELCOA and with each other as we develop better ways to foster social connection at work. Our year of social connection culminates with the 2020 WELCOA Summit on August 24-27 in Chicago. Register now to join us and experience deep connection and belonging with your WELCOA community.

Ryan Picarella, MS, SPHR // President & CEO • WELCOA

As WELCOA’s President, Ryan brings immense knowledge and insight from his career that spans over a decade in the health and wellness industry. He is a national speaker, healthcare consultant, and has designed and executed award winning wellness programs.