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Social capital

Social capital is what makes you trust each other and collaborate successfully on your core tasks at the shop. You can work consciously to increase your social capital. Read more here about social capital and what you can do as an employee, a manager or a member of the health and safety group.

VIDEO - INSPIRATION FOR STAFF MEETING - watch this video and talk about how you can increase trust and collaboration in your shop or store (in Danish with English subtitles).

Understanding social capital

Social capital is about trust, fairness and successful collaboration at the shop.

How to work with social capital

Everyone can contribute to a good collaborative environment at the shop.

For employees

For employees

How to strengthen your social capital at the shop

Social capital exists at all workplaces. You should base efforts to increase your social capital on your existing collaborative culture. You can strengthen collaboration and social capital by:

  • Focussing on core tasks: How do we improve our sales and our customers’ shopping experience?
  • Look at how you plan, coordinate and allocate work: Is it a fair allocation? Have you thought of everything? Is everything appropriately and responsibly managed?
  • Establish structures and frameworks to underpin collaboration: Do we know each other’s tasks? Do we respect each other’s work and efforts?
  • Build good relations across the hierarchy, between managers and employees and across departments and functions, etc.: Do we talk enough with each other? Do we have good relationships with one another?
Benefits of a high level of social capital

A workplace with a high level of social capital also has good psychosocial working conditions. Where a workplace nurses its social capital, you’ll see:

  • A high degree of trust and fairness in collaboration on tasks.
  • Openness and honesty in collaboration.
  • Recognition from management and mutually between colleagues.
  • Collaboration across specialist groups and between groups/departments.
  • Employees who feel they can trust and rely on reports and information from management.
  • Employees who are involved and have influence on their own tasks.
  • That it’s OK to make proposals to management.

Building social capital

Respectful communication

Simple things such as saying good morning, goodbye and being respectful in your communication with one another are important for your relations at the workplace.

Irony, sarcasm and offensive words can lead to misunderstandings and uncertainty. It’s natural for a workplace to have its own jargon and culture, and that’s OK. But it’s still important that the tone does not become unpleasant and disrespectful. Be especially aware of your language and tone of voice when you communicate with new colleagues.

Respect each other’s contributions

Your shop needs many different qualifications and competencies, so that you complement each other as employees. It’s important that you respect each other’s qualifications, interests, needs and job functions. This will build good collaborations, and steer you towards good results that everyone can recognise.

Don’t forget to acknowledge each other

Acknowledge and appreciate each other’s efforts; this is hugely important for your day-to-day wellbeing and task performance. So don’t forget to recognise your colleagues’ good efforts.

Stop conflicts before they escalate

A good workday can be hectic, and can include problems and conflict. It’s important to be open about these ‘bumps on the road’, to acknowledge them as a sign of the dynamics of collaboration, and to resolve them through positive and constructive dialogue.

Learn how to prevent disagreements from escalating into conflict and how to manage conflicts. Read more under Conflict between colleagues.

Say no to bullying

Speak up against offensive behaviour, bullying and harassment, and intervene if you see bullying. Read about Offensive behaviour.

For managers

Benefits of a high level of social capital

Social capital exists at all workplaces. You should base efforts to increase your social capital on your existing collaborative culture. As a manager, you can help build social capital through influencing the overall framework for:

  • Daily operations, and how you plan, coordinate and distribute work.
  • Overall leadership and management, including how you set and develop goals, visions, strategies and values.
  • Daily management, for example when ensuring tasks are completed.
  • Human resource management, for example when you give feedback and support and when you resolve conflicts.
High quality and productivity

Studies show that a workplace with a high level of social capital goes hand in hand with good psychosocial working conditions and high performance. As a manager, you will find that a high level of social capital leads to high quality and productivity because:

  • A feeling of fairness promotes motivation and willingness to collaborate, and employees work to realise the organisation’s goals and to perform their best. Fairness also has strong influence on stress because unfairness can be a stress factor.
  • Trust is important for job satisfaction and engagement, and consequently for productivity. Trust is crucial for the quality of the work performed, for job satisfaction and for employee health. Trust is also vital when a manager or the organisation wants to implement changes and new initiatives, because lack of trust can lead to conflict.
  • The higher the level of social capital and sense of fairness, the better the health of employees. A high level of social capital therefore leads to fewer sick days among staff.

Here is what you can do

  • Focus on the core tasks: How do we improve sales and our customers’ shopping experience?
  • Look at how you plan, coordinate and distribute work: Is it a fair allocation? Have you thought of everything? Do staff feel that everything is being appropriately and responsibly managed?
  • Establish structures and frameworks to underpin collaboration: Do we know each other’s tasks? Do we respect each other’s work and effort?
  • Build good relations across the hierarchy, between managers and employees and across departments and functions, etc.: Do we talk enough with each other? Do we have good relationships with one another?
More about core tasks

Focussing on core tasks will boost your social capital and improve quality and productivity. Together you can create better overview of core tasks, pull in the same direction and ensure a common understanding of what is quality, what your specific goals are, and how you will reach them. For example, you can:

  • Determine goals and expectations together, both expectations from management and from employees.
  • Determine together what creates quality and what is inexpedient or superfluous.
  • Sharpen your workplace profile and make the services you deliver clearer.
  • Focus on skills development.
  • Focus on specific work tasks and carry out workflow analyses.

Measure your social capital

If you want to raise your social capital, a good place to start is by mapping your current level of social capital.

If you have a health and safety group, it would be obvious to involve them in work to raise your social capital. Read more about methods and tools to measure social capital under the For health and safety groups tab.

For health and safety groups

The work of the health and safety group

It will be obvious to involve the health and safety group to raise social capital.

Involving the health and safety representative and, perhaps, an employee representative in your efforts can help instil trust among your employees.

Read more about how you can work to raise the social capital at the shop under the For managers tab.

Map your social capital

Four questions about social capital

If you want to quickly examine your social capital at a small shop with up to 15 employees, you can measure your social capital using the Four questions about social capital form. For example, you can fill in the form together at a staff meeting and discuss the results. The exercise takes around 30 – 60 minutes.

A more detailed mapping

You can also choose to make a more detailed and thorough mapping of your social capital. This is particularly relevant if you work at a large workplace with many employees. You can use the questionnaire prepared by the National Research Centre for the Working Environment.

The questionnaire comes in three versions depending on the level of detail you want. There are guidelines with information about how to complete the survey and interpret the results. Make sure that respondents can fill out and hand in the questionnaire anonymously; otherwise you may not get honest answers.

Tools and links