Posted by Andrew Walker on Friday January 08, 2021
We’re hearing more and more about social wellbeing – but is it just a buzzword? What value does it deliver for employees, and more pragmatically, your company’s bottom line?
What is social wellbeing?
Social wellbeing is rapidly taking its place as one of the four pillars of wellbeing, alongside physical, mental and financial. However, it’s a recent term and often one that causes confusion about what it actually means.
In the workplace, social wellbeing generally refers to the extent to which an employee feels a sense of belonging at work. With the new lockdown restrictions and remote working, it can be difficult for employees to keep this sense of belonging. Social wellbeing can cover everything from relationships with colleagues to alignment with company values, and is about feeling valued as a person, colleague and employee. Connecting the unconnected is of paramount importance so employees do not lose the feeling of belonging and the crucial connection with the business.
Why employers should take social wellbeing seriously
It may be easy to think of social wellbeing as a ‘nice to have’ rather than an essential part of your employee offer. But taking steps to foster a sense of belonging is vital for ensuring high levels of engagement and in turn, greater productivity. Employees are much more likely to work at their best when they feel supported within a company that values them.
It is widely accepted that increased employee engagement boosts productivity. Social wellbeing is a key element in creating a workplace where people feel truly included and are therefore willing to go the extra mile. Workers feel more positive towards an employer whose values accord with their own, thereby strengthening your employer brand and trust.
Where to begin?
So what can employers do to help? You need to show your people that you care. Creating a culture that prioritises social interactions and inclusiveness is much more effective than implementing one-off benefits with no long-term value.
There is a lot to look at when reviewing your social wellbeing strategy, and it is important that you look at the individual needs of your business, as what is important to some employees maybe less of a priority to others.
For example, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) may be high on the list for some people as they want to work for a business that is actively doing good, through volunteering in the community or charitable giving. Others may prioritise working for a business that is highly sociable with regular employee activities and strong team bonds.
An example of social wellbeing in practise – Recognition
Recognition is a good place to start - we all like the warm glow of being thanked for a job well done. Peer-to-peer recognition has been shown to be especially effective in boosting engagement. When employees recognise each other’s efforts and receive recognition themselves, their sense of purpose and commitment to work improves.
A culture of recognition helps employees to form strong social connections at work; making them happier and healthier, which has a positive impact on their experience at work. As workforces are increasingly remote, it has never been more important to make employees feel like they belong, and are recognised by (and thus and more connected to) their colleagues and the wider business.
However, implementing initiatives like a recognition programme as a one-off will have a limited effect on productivity. For social wellbeing to succeed, it needs to form part of a holistic strategy which supports all aspects of employees’ physical, mental, financial and social wellbeing.
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