Humans are social animals; we are supposed to live and thrive in communities with social interaction therefore our social wellbeing is a crucial aspect of our overall health. The past couple of years has proved just how much of an impact our social wellbeing has on our physical and mental wellbeing, but what exactly is social wellbeing?
Social wellbeing refers to developing and maintaining positive relationships with the people and communities around you. The role relationships play in our overall wellbeing is huge and quality connections shouldn’t be understated. A strong social support network allows us to receive help from other people in times of need, as well as support through good times. Like with most things, when it comes to social connections, it’s quality over quantity; having an extensive network is okay but without those close relationships that stick by you through thick and thin, your social wellbeing may still be poor.
Some signs of good social wellbeing include:
- You are good at balancing social and personal time
- You can be yourself in social situations
- You value diversity, respect others, and can interact with a range of people
- You nurture your relationships
- You can maintain personal boundaries
- You feel supported by the people around you
Benefits of good social wellbeing
Building and maintaining positive relationships with other people can subsequently benefit your mental and physical health. In the same way, poor relationships with others can negatively impact your mental and physical health. We’ve all experienced it, whether it be a toxic friendship or relationship, a bad fallout or argument or simply being around someone who is not good for you. The inadvertent effect that situations like this have on you goes deeper than many people realise. Having good social wellness can reduce your chances of cardiovascular disease, strengthen your immune system, and improve your mental health, among other things.
Connecting with people and building positive relationships with others allows them to offer you support in different areas of life. Emotional support, practical support and informational support are all areas in which the people we have connections with can help us. Different people in your life may offer you different types of support and the variety and quality of these connections gives you good social wellbeing.
Good social wellbeing makes you more productive in your work. Having frequent social contact can help improve memory and recall which will relate to your job in some way. Similarly, a friendly atmosphere and sense of belonging acts as motivation to come into work and do your job happily.
Having good social wellness can make you more connected and involved with your community. Joining groups, clubs and new hobbies exposes you to new people, cultures, and ways of life, providing you with opportunities to learn more about the world and people around you.
Social wellbeing in the workplace
As mentioned above, social wellness improves productivity, but it also has many more benefits in the workplace. Having good social relationships in work improves business success and employee satisfaction. With people typically spending most of their waking hours at work, businesses can have a huge impact on employee’s social wellbeing.
All areas of wellbeing will affect how an employee works, functions, and behaves, and social wellbeing is no different. So how can businesses improve social wellbeing in the workplace?
Know your employees
Each individual employee will have different needs when it comes to social wellbeing, so it is important to recognise that. Depending on your type of business you may have employees who travel a lot, who work remotely or who work night shifts/hours. Due to the nature of these job roles, employees may have different social needs to other employees. Similarly, socialising doesn’t come easy to everyone, introverted or neurodivergent employees may have different requirements than other employees. Getting to know your workforce can help you figure out what kind of support would be valued.
Consider policies already in place and what you already offer. Having things such as flexible working, a suitable maternity/paternity leave policy and sufficient annual leave allowances can ensure employees are encouraged to focus on their wellbeing needs outside of work. Companies that spend money towards employee recognition and appreciation perform a lot better than those that don’t, and it also contributes towards the social wellbeing of employees.
Offer a variety of social events that include all employees, taking into consideration things such as budget, social comfort, and other responsibilities. Having something for everyone can ensure all employees feel included despite their differences and gives everyone a chance to take part in something.
Another way of promoting social wellbeing within a company is CSR (corporate social responsibility). CSR activities are a good way to bring employees together and bond over a shared experience. It also builds your brand awareness and broadens your community reach and is a great way of building company culture.
Caring about employee wellbeing should be a priority in any business and social wellbeing is no different. Make a conscious effort to include social wellbeing throughout your company culture and watch how it benefits your business. The desire for social benefits from employees will only increase and with the advantages of social wellness being so obvious, you don’t want to get left behind…