Once upon a time, employers typically didn’t trouble themselves much about their employees’ social well-being. Workers were expected to clock in at their appointed times, meet their designated performance metrics, and clock out at the approved hour. What happened in the hours between clocking out and clocking in was not really of any concern to the boss, nor was it any of their business, so long as an employee’s after-hour activities didn’t infringe on the company’s well-being.
Today, however, relationships between employers and employees aren’t so cut-and-dry. Indeed, the line between an employee’s personal and professional life is far less clearly defined than it once was, particularly in the era of remote and hybrid work. Even where an employee is present onsite full-time, that does not mean that their quality of life off-campus doesn’t bleed into their performance at work.
This is why savvy employers are increasingly recognizing the importance of employees’ social well-being in creating a productive work environment. This article examines the connection between your employees’ social wellness and the overall performance of your organization. It also provides strategies you can implement today to support the social well-being of your entire team, including fully remote and hybrid workers.
The Connection Between Social Well-being and Performance
No matter how shy or introverted a person may be, the unavoidable reality is that humans are social animals. We need connection and companionship to survive. We need happy, healthy relationships in order to be happy and healthy ourselves.
This is why, now more than ever, even healthcare providers are turning away from traditional therapies and toward the “social-time” prescription. Spending time with family, friends, and, yes, colleagues, helps to alleviate depression, decrease anxiety, and promote an overall sense of well-being. And when workers feel happier, more positive, and less stressed, they’re also going to be more engaged, more motivated, and more focused.
Allowing staff to socialize with one another, making time for them to enjoy meals and snacks together, and encouraging frequent breaks can increase productivity and overall job satisfaction.
Building a Better Work-life Balance
Supporting your employees’ social well-being also leads almost inevitably to a healthier work-life balance. Providing your employees with ample opportunities to enjoy rest and recreation helps to reduce the risk of burnout which, in turn, leads to an increase in employee retention. And the more successful you are in holding on to experienced workers, the more efficient and productive your company is going to be.
Supporting Remote and Hybrid Workers
No matter what your particular industry is, the odds are pretty good that you have already cultivated some experience with remote or hybrid work models. You may, for instance, have transitioned to remote operations during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Or, you may simply find that today’s workers are increasingly insisting on remote work opportunities as a condition of employment.
In other words, no matter what your current business model is, it appears that the hybrid office is here to stay. The implications of this transformation of the modern workplace are profound, particularly when it comes to your employees’ social well-being.
Hybrid work models, for instance, can provide employees with all the advantages of the remote office, particularly for working parents and elder caregivers, without the loneliness and isolation that often accompany a fully remote environment.
Nevertheless, though hybrid options enable employees to enjoy the opportunity for in-person collaboration with colleagues, this does not automatically guarantee their optimal social well-being. Employers need to take things a step further if they seek to promote social wellness in all their employees, regardless of where and how they work.
Promoting Social Well-being Organization-wide
No matter whether your company operates on a hybrid, fully remote, or fully onsite model, there are things you can do to enhance your employees’ social well-being and, in the process, cultivate a healthier, more productive, and happier company culture.
For instance, you might institute a weekly family movie or game night that would include both in-person and remote access for employees. You might also hold monthly in-person events, from picnics to softball games to bike trips. These in-person events might even be live-streamed for remote workers who live at a distance but who still want to feel like a part of the fun. And if you really want to up your social well-being game for your staff, why not offer quarterly company retreats and corporate staycations? The more opportunities you give your staff to connect and decompress, the more unified they will be as a team and the healthier they will be as individuals.
Cultivating social well-being in your employees isn’t just a lofty ideal, it’s also a benefit for your company’s bottom line. When your employees feel engaged, appreciated, and connected, they’re going to be more loyal, more motivated, and more productive. And, while social connectedness is particularly critical for remote and hybrid workers, every employee, including onsite workers, can benefit greatly from the opportunity to rest, relax, and have a bit of fun with the team.