Chances are if you’ve lived above ground over the past several years, you’re familiar with the growing trend that the workplace isn’t all about work…work and more work. More and more companies are realizing that the health and wellness of its employees is almost as important as their job skills. Healthy and happy employees tend to be absent less often, are more productive, and have a higher level of job satisfaction and morale.Some employers have added on-site fitness centers and childcare, health screenings, nutrition classes, smoking cessation help, tuition assistance, wellness days, classes on money management and let’s not forget the recent trend of encouraging napping during the workday. Let us pause for a second to appreciate how awesome that is!
We could go on and on, but your time is valuable, and this isn’t the point of the blog. So let’s get right to it: social wellness – a frequently overlooked component of employee health, but one that is just as important as the physical and career programs you already offer. Now don’t worry, we’re not saying throw away what you’re already offering and start over again. We’re simply saying add a bit to it. Enhance your employee wellness program with a bit of social flare.
So, what exactly is social wellness?
According to UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services, "social wellness refers to the relationships we have and how we interact with others." Promoting positive relationships at work is just as important as promoting employee health and let’s face it, if you don’t like the people you work with, chances are you don’t like your job. But this is much more than learning how to play well with others in the sandbox.
The benefits of positive social wellness:
- 50% increased level of longevity
- Stronger immune systems
- Lower rate of stress and anxiety
- Higher self-esteem and empathy
- Better emotion regulation skills
The dangers of negative or no social wellness:
- Worse for health than smoking, high blood pressure, or obesity
- Higher cellular inflammation, which can lead to greater chances of cancer, disease, and illness
- Higher rate of stress and anxiety
- Slower recovery from illness due to a weaker immune system
- Increase anti-social behavior and violence
Why should you care about social wellness in the workplace?
Unfortunately, social isolation, loneliness, and alienation are on the rise in our society. In fact, 25% of Americans claim they don’t have anyone to talk with about their personal problems. Social wellness is an employee experience advantage!
Full-time employees spend most of their waking hours at the office. In fact, the average full-time employee spends over 1/3 of their life at work! It’s where most of their social interaction happens and the idea that you’re here to work and not to make friends is an old-fashioned and unhealthy approach. As you can see from above, much like wellness programs, social wellness helps reduce stress, promote healthier and happier employees and increase job performance. I think we can all agree that’s a great thing!
However, many are leery about getting too close to their fellow employees. Whether this comes from a sense of competition, fear of appearing unproductive or worry about maintaining workplace hierarchy many shy away from forming the type of social bonds that are essential to overall wellbeing.
But fear not. There is a solution and that solution is you! The workplace environment is largely driven by you…the big cheese, the head honcho, the big kahuna. To borrow a line from one of the all-time greatest movies (in our opinion of course): “If you build it, they will come.” By setting an example yourself, your employees will follow closely behind.
Let’s Sparck a few ideas, shall we?
- Encourage team building exercises
- Find out what your employees have in common and encourage them to share it together
- Create friendly team challenges that encourage group accomplishments rather than individual success
- Volunteer as a group and give back to the community at the same time
- Schedule events that provide the opportunity to connect on a more social basis.
The possibilities are endless! So what are you waiting for? Go out there and “build-it."