How to Improve Social Well-Being in the Workplace

Jim Halpert and Dwight Schrute. Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson. Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang. 

These iconic TV friendships all have one thing in common — they began at work. We all know how great it feels to have a workplace friendship — a friend can help make the hours spent on the clock happier and much more purposeful.

According to the 2021 Workplace Friendship & Happiness Survey by Wildgoose, 57% of people say having a best friend in the workplace makes work more enjoyable, 22% feel more productive with friends, and 21% say friendship makes them more creative. These numbers show the importance of social well-being and how it plays a role in the workplace.

Social well-being is the sharing, developing, and sustaining of meaningful relationships with others. This allows you to feel authentic and valued, and it provides you a sense of belonging. In a nutshell, social wellness is incredibly important.

We're social creatures by nature. The limbic system in our brain is responsible for our desire to be with others, around others, and connected to others. It generates feelings of safety and happiness when we're with our people. Without human connection, we run the risk of isolation, which leads to loneliness. And it can be damaging. In fact, loneliness can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes per day

As you look to address the health and wellness of your workforce this year, make sure your employee wellness program incorporates social wellness, one of the 6 areas of well-being

All 6 areas of well-being are connected — you can’t really address social well-being without factoring in mental health. For example, revamping your company culture to create a true sense of belonging will also help improve your employees' mental health and emotional well-being.

As we begin the fifth installment of our wellness series, we're diving deeper into the importance of social wellness and how you can promote it in the workplace.

Encouraging Social Well-Being

Work friendships increase job satisfaction, reduce burnout, boost productivity, and can improve the overall business. But how do we foster those connections in the workplace? Managers can do their part by creating an inclusive environment. By taking a genuine interest in employees’ lives, managers can create a culture that values social bonding and friendships.

There are a few ways you can do this:

—Don’t limit conversations to email or formal meetings. Think outside the box and develop strategies that cultivate a more social atmosphere. For example, try walking meetings. They boost energy levels, and enhance well-being by incorporating movement and fresh air. Plus, not having a phone or computer nearby lets you focus on the person you're talking to.

—Set up team-building events. Team building can easily boost workplace friendship potential. The Wildgoose survey found that 46% of respondents preferred after-work drinks once a month as a way to connect with their team. You can also create a designated space for employees to share meals together during the work day.

—Be mindful of loneliness. The COVID-19 pandemic created a shift to remote work that may have negatively impacted some employees. In fact, studies show that 33% of employees say their lack of social interaction with colleagues is their biggest challenge with remote work. Managers should make an effort to keep remote workers engaged and help them feel less isolated. 

—Take an interest in employees’ personal lives. You don't have to start giving your team relationship advice, but you should take an interest in your teammates as people. Spend a few minutes during every one-on-one meeting to connect on a more personal level. If you get to know people’s passions and interests outside of work, you may get a glimpse into what motivates them.

At OnSite Wellness, we can help you implement an engaging, culture-forward wellness program at your workplace. Reach out today to get started.

Each month, we'll continue to break down these 6 categories of well-being in greater detail — be sure to follow along and don't miss out on how you can invest in wellness to help your employees thrive.

Need some help? Let us guide you. At OnSite Wellness, employee health and wellness is our specialty. We can help you implement all areas of wellness in your program so you can build a happier, stronger workforce.