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Improving social well-being at work: 4 sure-fire ways

As HR teams are ramping up conversations about employee well-being, the aspect of social wellness is popping up more and more. Now, social well-being is no longer just a trend or buzzword but an equally important pillar of well-being - alongside physical, mental, financial and cultural welfare. But what is it really, and how can you implement it effectively? Keep reading to learn more!


    of EU employees claim their organisations are NOT taking enough actions to optimise their health and well-being.

      The often-overlooked pillar of workforce wellness

      Many organisations are jumping on board the “workplace wellness” trend by introducing health-focused initiatives to positively impact employee engagement and retention. While these strategies are essential for the overall health of your workforce, simply focusing on the physical, mental and financial aspects is no longer enough. In fact, more than half of EU employees claim their organisations are NOT taking enough actions to optimise their health, according to research by SD Worx. Employees’ needs have changed after the pandemic. And now more than ever, the focus should be on social wellness – an often forgotten aspect of workplace wellness.

      Indeed, social well-being is a crucial part of any wellness strategy. From relationships with colleagues to alignment with company values, it’s about feeling valued as a person, colleague and employee. But how do you go about it? Below, we’ve distilled 4 key social wellness ideas to help your business get started - whether you’re a small firm just starting out or a larger enterprise looking to enhance engagement and productivity through workplace health and well-being.

        #1 Foster positive, non-judgemental and supportive social relations at work

        •  It can be a real challenge for your people to build positive relationships if they don’t have an area in the work environment where they feel comfortable doing so. So our first tip for fostering positive workplace relationships is to create a safe, comfy social spot (like a sofa or kitchen area) for great conversations to take place - somewhere all staff members can freely unwind and socialise without being judged.
        • Connect departments – your employees can create opportunities for mutual connections by taking the time to introduce colleagues from different departments and avoid remote management mistakes (if working remotely).
        • Organise meaningful volunteer projects - volunteering together outside the workplace and working towards a common goal that’s not work-related can help your employees create contacts and networks and build lasting relationships by serving a good cause outside of work.

          #2 Make work more enjoyable

          Provide opportunities to have fun and release the tension, be it in formal or informal ways or both. You can:

          • celebrate and laugh together - find new ways to celebrate successes as a team. Although colleagues’ birthdays are occasions to celebrate, start thinking outside the box and develop new creative ideas, such as:
            • celebrating workplace anniversaries
            • asking co-workers to share their cultural celebrations
            • organising virtual team games.
          •  encourage regular team activities - successful team-building exercises create bonds and foster a sense of solidarity and unity among workers. In addition, team building can be a great idea for the communication necessary for remote working to increase interaction.
          • offer healthy snacks – nothing is easier than gathering people around a plate of food. You can encourage social interaction by organising nutritious gatherings or regular team lunches.
          • organise more social events - social events such as film nights or talent show events can encourage employees to develop friendships with their colleagues and peers.

            #3 Take loneliness seriously and destigmatise conversations around it

            Don’t mistakenly assume that someone doesn’t have a problem with loneliness and consequently skip consistent contact and check-in meetings. Remember that most employees don’t shout it from the rooftops when they feel lonely. Everyone struggles with loneliness at some level. You can encourage your people to form bonds by creating opportunities for collaboration, such as:

            • having a buddy or mentoring programme - having a designated buddy to check in with regularly. This will allow colleagues to have someone other than their manager to share challenges with and build connections.
            • promoting face-to-face interactions - even though the internet has facilitated contact on a never-before-seen scale, conventional face-to-face interactions still have much to offer.

            But be aware that these activities can only take you so far. After all, a person can have hundreds of contacts on LinkedIn but still feel lonely. So rather than just collecting as many contacts as possible, encourage your people to prioritise high-quality interactions to ensure that the relationships they create are more rewarding and valuable.

              #4 Define general rules of engagement

              As our world spins ever faster with more responsibilities to manage, more information to absorb and less time for everything, it’s crystal clear that there are unlimited opportunities for miscommunication and misunderstanding. Therefore, it’s important you define general rules of engagement that include respecting and valuing differences. Here are some tips for nurturing an inclusive and diverse workplace:

              • Be open and honest
              • Be respectful and fair (use inclusive language like “we” when talking to your team and emphasise the importance of workplace diversity by using gender-neutral pronouns.)
              • Help your people to learn and grow in their knowledge and skills
              • Always have their back and never throw a team member under the bus
              • Know your team and get on the same page
              • Highlight achievement and progress – a public thank you to a staff member who has put extra effort can be one way
              • Implement diversity training
              • Keep following through on employee engagement results
              • Include KPIs that monitor team energy and well-being next to business impact and results
              • Avoid micromanagement

                It Starts with keeping track

                As humans, we’re naturally social beings and rely a lot on connections with others to feel healthy and happy in life. Whether in our professional or personal lives, maintaining social relations and being part of a community all contribute to our social well-being. In order for the above ideas to be effective in your organisation, they need to be led and promoted by managers and team leaders - they are your first line to help make this shift.

                To ensure the success of your company’s social wellness programmes, your management team must check in with each employee regularly to:

                • know whether they feel a sense of belonging at work
                • understand what they want and need to succeed
                • see what they need to make changes in their own lives

                Show you truly care by asking questions and understanding what your people think and feel and the support they need from you. Don’t shy away from challenging conversations.

                Give your team leaders proper training:

                • develop and empower them so they can truly let their teams thrive
                • provide them with the training to learn the art of asking questions
                • help them understand how to deal with tough conversations (focus on understanding and empathy)
                • train your leaders to have open discussions around mental health if needed.

                Leadership development is essential to social well-being, so choose your leaders carefully.

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                    Nazia Keenoo

                    Nazia Keenoo