Social Wellbeing

The Importance of Social Wellbeing in the Workplace

5 min read
Lynsey May Sutherland
Lynsey Sutherland

Want a company culture that nurtures employees and helps them excel? Then monitoring and improving social wellbeing should be high on your hit list. 

What is social wellbeing?

Social wellbeing is a way of describing the relationships that someone has with the people around them in their home life, work life and communities, and how those relationships impact their wellbeing. 

When we talk about social wellbeing at work, it encompasses everything from relationships with peers and managers to how much someone feels like they belong. Social wellbeing is also a major factor in personal wellbeing, and it can be hard to maintain one without the other. 

Why social wellbeing matters at work

A strong feeling of social wellbeing in the workplace has many advantages to both individuals and organisations. When someone feels content, accepted and supported, they are in the best possible position to be part of a healthy, high-performing team

It improves employee performance

When employees aren’t distracted by worries and feel cared for and respected, their performance goes up. Metlife found that when employees were holistically healthy, they were 53% more likely to be productive. 

It enhances relationships between employees

A company that encourages social wellbeing also makes space for employees to grow and strengthen their interpersonal relationships.

It promotes career satisfaction

Perhaps unsurprisingly, scientific research has found that social wellbeing has been positively associated with job satisfaction. 

It enhances work-life balance

A good work-life balance is enhanced in a workplace where all facets of an employee’s wellbeing are recognised and respected. 

It improves employee retention

When people look forward to coming to work, they’re much less likely to be tempted by other job offers.

Social Wellbeing Workplace

How to promote social wellbeing in the workplace?

If you’re ready to start improving the social wellbeing levels at your workplace, here are some of the processes it’s most essential to put in place. 

Recognition enhances social wellbeing

Recognising the achievements and unique skills of employees is a sure-fire way to raise both individual and social wellbeing. Research from Gallup found that employees from companies with a recognition-rich culture are up to 91% more likely to be thriving in their lives. And that when recognition is of a high quality, they are up to 10 times more likely to feel as though they belong. 

Identify when employees are feeling stressed or burnt out

Employees who are stressed or suffering from burnout may not be capable of recognising what’s going on. A good leader will keep an eye on their team and look out for the tell-tale signs and intervene where necessary. Be vigilant for employees who are:

  • More tired and lethargic than normal
  • Taking about work in an increasingly negative way
  • Less productive than usual 

Implement mental health support programs

One of the best ways to safeguard wellbeing at work is to make sure you have mental help support programs in place. 

Create a stigma-free environment for seeking help

To ensure that people feel comfortable accessing help from those programs, or from any members of their team, it’s essential that you foster a stigma-free environment. This means treating all requests with respect.

Offer flexible work arrangements

Flexible working arrangements make it easier for people to manage their own health and wellbeing. Not only can it remove the stresses associated with trying to balance work with other responsibilities, it also allows the opportunity to destress or unwind when needed.  

Promote a healthy boundary between work and personal life

It’s also very important to help your staff create a strong and healthy boundary between the time they spend at home and the time they spend at work. Employees who don’t have ample opportunity to switch off and enjoy their leisure time are far more likely to suffer from stress and burnout. 

Embrace diversity in the workplace

To ensure that all employees feel respected, heard and valued, it’s important to have a company culture that embraces and promotes diversity

Measuring social wellbeing and ROI

To know whether your efforts to improve social wellbeing are proving successful, it’s essential to keep a close eye on all available evidence. 

Identifying relevant metrics for evaluating social wellbeing

Measuring social wellbeing may sound like a slightly tricky proposition but it can be surprisingly simple, with the right metrics. In addition to the general wellbeing and happiness of your team, there are elements such as a reduction in the number of absences, lower incidences of stress or the need for fewer GP appointments. 

Demonstrating the return on investment (ROI) of social wellbeing programs

Those same metrics can be used to demonstrate the ROI of your programs. If retention is up, productivity is higher and satisfaction is on the increase, then it’s clear that your efforts are having a measurable impact on your business and bottom line. 

Using feedback and surveys to gauge employee perceptions

Direct feedback from your employees is also incredibly useful. It will let you know how your people feel about their own wellbeing and their opinion of your wellbeing-focused initiatives. 

It’s a great idea to offer both informal, conversational feedback sessions and anonymous surveys, to make sure you’re capturing as much information as possible. 

Overcoming challenges in implementing social wellbeing programs

As with the introduction of any new initiative or program, you may find that there’s some initial resistance. 

Common obstacles faced by organisations

  • Employees are resistant to changes to habits
  • There’s a lack of understanding around benefits
  • Misalignment due to ineffective communication

Strategies to overcome resistance or scepticism

The first thing to do, is ensure that all changes and prospects are communicated clearly and that space is given for feedback and questions. Lay all goals and benefits out, so that employees can understand the reasoning behind implementation. 

Seeking employee involvement and feedback in program development

Be sure to encourage and reward engagement at all levels of the program’s introduction. This not only reduces the likelihood of miscommunication or a lack of understanding, but also offers opportunities for increased buy in. 

The initial idea may come from the top down, but social wellbeing should be a ground up operation.

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