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How Social Capital Fuels Collaboration

By: Valerie Williams


“Social capital” refers to the personal relationships and interactions that build mutual trust and respect among colleagues. Such trust and respect often lead to a higher level of employee engagement and, ultimately, higher overall business performance. At SEI, we recognize that building social capital provides us with a solid foundation for fostering collaboration, as it helps our consultants realize that they collectively form the identity and culture of the business.

Bonding with Our Colleagues

Each SEI office builds social capital in a way that complements the culture and environment of that office. For instance, the SEI Atlanta Social Engagement team kicks off the year with a planning phase designed to help our office meet its goals related to building and sustaining social capital. During this phase, we not only review the previous year’s participation and feedback but also engage with our consultants to source new ideas and ensure we are offering the type of events that speak to their interests. In Atlanta, events have ranged from team paintball to family hiking to our annual company picnic. Consultants from our Cincinnati office have gotten together to do activities equally as wide-ranging, from ax-throwing to charity 5Ks.

Fresh Faces, Lasting Memories

Incorporating new hires into our strategy for building and sustaining social capital is integral to SEI’s ability to attract and retain new talent. A mixture of events — some specifically for new hires and some that encourage socializing between new and long-tenured SEIers — provides a variety of opportunities for relationship building and teamwork. For instance, our Boston office hosts a “Newbie Night Out” two to three times per year that includes activities like dinner, bowling, or an escape room challenge.

Serving Our Communities Together

Volunteering is another of our bedrock values. SEI prides itself on giving back to the communities in which we work and play, and we put this commitment into action through partnerships with various service organizations.

One such organization that SEI partnered with last year was the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. SEI sponsored a team comprised of participants from all nine SEI offices who were encouraged to “Shoot for the Moon” in honor of a fellow consultant and his late wife. The SEI warriors raised $40,000 by running either half-marathons or 5Ks.  Atlanta SEIers and their family members also volunteered time to many other service initiatives last year, including sorting and packaging food at a community food bank, hosting and facilitating a cookout for patients at a local spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation center, and preparing over 300 college care packages for foster care youth. In Chicago, SEIers participated in back-to-school shopping for ChildLink, a local foster care services organization.

Social capital is the fuel that keeps the flames of collaboration burning at organizations like SEI. All our consultants have the responsibility — or, really, the opportunity — to help develop an evolving strategy that sustains collaboration by building trust among each other and quickly onboarding new hires and equipping them with tools they need to contribute to the brand. This ensures that our consultants maintain a sense of ownership over our brand and recognize that they collectively form our brand identity. At the end of the day, this encourages the development of interpersonal relationships not only among consultants, but among their families as well.

Valerie Williams


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