Social well-being, wellness and connection in the workplace
Engagement 4 minute read

Social well-being, wellness and connection in the workplace

Julie Bevacqua | September 10, 2019

Is your organization doing everything they can to support social well-being? If not, you should be. Here’s why and how.

At Rise, we understand that today’s HR is about people, not policies; culture, not compliance; wellness, not administration. We’ve centred our entire company around this philosophy, working from the ground up to put people at the heart of people management to build better businesses—both through our HR platform and on the homefront in our own workplace.

Our aim is to help you improve the employee experience for your people while fostering a culture of health and wellness in the workplace—and social well-being plays a critical, yet often overlooked, role in supporting employees throughout their journey.

Humans are built to interact and as social creatures, people crave connection with others.

The sense of belonging derived from relationships and connection with family members, friends, colleagues, and the local and global community is the foundation of social wellbeing. And with people spending the better part of their waking hours at work, businesses can’t afford to neglect social wellness and well-being in the workplace.

Indeed, cultivating social well-being in the workplace has never been more important, for several reasons: people no longer have a single employer or just one career; remote and home-based work settings are the new normal; and the lack of social interaction is an undeniable component of our growing gig economy.

Dartmouth College says, ‘Social wellbeing is the ability to build personal connections with others, deal with conflict, and be a part of a positive social network.’

This sounds simple, and ironically, that may be part of the reason social wellbeing is easily overlooked when organizations create an employee wellness program.

For a moment, let’s consider the negative effects when an employer neglects to incorporate social wellness and well-being in the workplace into its employee benefits strategy.

  • One study found the health risks of social isolation are comparable to the risks associated with obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure.
  • A 2015 study found employees with low levels of autonomy felt lonely, while half of CEOs feel lonely in their roles;
  • In a 2014 survey, 42% of respondents reported they did not have a close friend at work.

Thankfully, the benefits of including the social side of things in an employee health and wellness program are just as clear.

  • There is a link between individuals with strong social supports and corresponding positive outcomes for immune system and cardiovascular health.
  • A Stanford researcher found strong social connections can lead to a 50% increased chance of longevity.
  • The depth and breadth of social relationships is a major predictor of business success.
  • Happy and healthy employees are more productive.

There are many ways that social well-being can translate to, and be implemented in, the workplace. 

  • Be the catalyst: Provide opportunities for employees to socialize outside and within the organization (e.g. team outings to events, appealing break areas with good coffee, group volunteer activities, company parties)
  • Employee recognition—with a bonus: Companies that spend 1% of staff payroll on recognition are 79% more likely to see better financial results.
  • Indoor environments matter, too: The physical environment where your teams work can be a catalyst for success and social connection. Find out what employees need space- and resource-wise to support one another and deliver top-notch results.
  • Share the reins: HR policies that increase employees’ sense of control and support in the workplace are likely to lead to greater well-being. Providing your people with a role in decision-making supports openness, awareness, and creative problem-solving.

Often given short shrift by employers, social well-being is a serious human dynamic vital for overall good health. Are you doing everything you can to support social health in your organization?

I’d like to share the following short e-book detailing how making the investment to include a social well-being component in your wellness program can yield increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and presenteeism, improved talent attraction and retention, and happier, healthier employees: Social Wellbeing: The Final Piece of the Wellness Puzzle

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