6 Steps to Social Well-Being in the Workplace and Why You Need Them

Your social well-being – or healthy connections with others – is a significant piece of your happiness puzzle. Our worldly events over the past few years have made that clearer than ever.

The lack of connection and social life has impacted your well-being in the home environment. It’s also imperative to acknowledge how a lack of connection in the workplace can diminish the well-being of employees and businesses. If you’re a business owner or executive, ignoring this element of social well-being could be the breaking point of an otherwise profitable business.

How to Define Social Well-Being

Social Well-Being differs from emotional well-being and community well-being, and deserves its own pillar.

At BreakWell, we define social well-being as such:

You have meaningful relationships with co-workers, friends and family. Your human support system gives you a boost over any obstacle. You know how to balance your social time and set boundaries with others. You can engage with others without conflicts and with an open mind. You can comfortably navigate through changing social situations.

How Poor Social Well-being Shuts Down Productivity In The Workplace

BreakWell Founder Tara Kraus dares to suggest, “It is not the work that typically impacts your employees’ stress and happiness. Rather it is the lack of interpersonal relationships that becomes the deal breaker for your employees’ and your business’ success. This is critical to remember when building a team.”

You won’t always find a best friend at work, but when employees are not socially connected, you may see several “contagious” effects.

  • Without peer support, your people feel less valued.
  • They don’t enjoy their work as much and feel more stressed.
  • Employees have more misunderstandings about how they are doing their work.
  • Teams may operate more like a stuttering, unreliable engine than a well-oiled engine.
  • Leaders have to do more damage control, playing referee or rehashing repetitive issues.
  • Work feels more like work than a passion or team mission.
  • Employees are less engaged and more prone to look for work elsewhere.
  • You experience heightened turnover and rehiring costs alongside reduced productivity and profit margins.

Meanwhile, this has a trickling effect on the other pillars of well-being in your company and individual employees.

Financial rewards are lacking.
Mindset and mental well-being suffer.
Spiritual well-being is tested.
You may feel professionally unsuccessful or unhappy.
You may become emotionally drained or unsteady.
Work feels more like a tension trap than a safe space.
Attention to your community is lacking because that might draw attention to the lack of social well-being in your business.

You may suffer a myriad of physical issues such as anxiety, depression, chronic conditions, high blood pressure, unhealthy weight gain – even heart disease and cancer. If loneliness also sets in, consider that according to WellToDoGlobal.com, at its most extreme, chronic loneliness can increase the risk of heart disease and dementia while lowering life expectancy by 15 years.

Or Flip the Outcome and Ramp Up Social Well-Being

Let’s take a few minutes to imagine the opposite.

  • Your people feel valued by their peers and leaders.
  • Employees engage with one another for work and meaningful conversations.
  • They find more joy and less stress or friction in their work.
  • Employees know how one another “tick” which helps them communicate more clearly and work more efficiently. Teammates become more resilient and teams operate like a well-oiled engine.
  • As a leader, you spend minimal time doing damage control, playing referee and checking up on things. You have more time to connect with colleagues while growing the business and looking for new opportunities.
  • Work feels more like a passion or team mission.
  • Employees are engaged and telling friends, family and clients what a great place it is to work.
  • Your company enjoys little turnover, heightened productivity and higher profit margins.

Caralee Lynch, an Industrial/Organizational Psychology Practitioner and BreakWell Resource agrees. “Cultivating social support at work isn’t just beneficial for the employee, but for the entire organization. Research suggests there is a relationship between workplace friendship and organizational commitment. Hosting social events that build these bonds is an essential investment into the health and well-being of your entire organization.”

Plus the trickling effect on other pillars of well-being will be positive and forward-moving.

Steps You Can Take To Foster Strong Social Well-being In Your Company

1) Three major obstacles to social well-being include gossip, exclusion and workplace politics. In fact, according to this article, 38% of employees want to leave their jobs due to a toxic work culture or one where they don’t feel they fit in. Fifty-eight percent of employees have left jobs, or are considering leaving, because of negative office politics. Minimizing these common workplace habits will set the stage for stronger social well-being.

Once those are minimized, you can nurture social well-being in your workplace in many different ways.

2) Not everyone will find a best friend at the job scene and you shouldn’t force friendships. But suppose you even have one favorite person who is reliable and uplifting in your day-to-day work environment. This can make a major positive difference in your social well-being. So, encourage employees to find a workplace mentor or accountability buddy!

3) You can also incorporate Blue Zone values into your workplace by hosting:

  • Team “lunch and learns”
  • Collaborations between employees or your team and another
  • Team volunteer opportunities
  • A fun, social event for employees and families (at a farm or park)

4) Allow opportunities for group discussion where participants can respectfully disagree and still develop positive outcomes together.

5) Also allow opportunities for positive peer-to-peer recognition.

6) Finally, encourage a culture of employee care including open communication, respect for healthy boundaries, asking for and offering support and expressing appreciation.

How to Identify the Right Social Well-Being Building Activities for Your Workplace

After reading this, fostering a culture of employee care and good social health may seem straightforward and simple to do. But like serving new foods to your kids, if not done thoughtfully, you can get a lot of frowns and little interest.

You need to present activities your employees care about in ways that make them feel appreciated as a person and not like puppets or children.

That’s why it’s helpful to have a third-party professional identify and formulate the best approach based on your employees’ feedback.

When working with BreakWell, it can look like this depending on how involved you want to be (or not):

  • We visit your workplace and do assessments and interviews for feedback.
  • We develop a plan based on our findings.
  • We provide structure for the activity and communication you can send out to get employees pumped.
  • We provide follow-up to measure your outcomes.

Workplace relationships are a huge factor in why employees stay or leave a company – BreakWell’s experience in developing corporate well-being programs supports that notion fully.

If your small to mid-sized company is experiencing financial challenges or low morale, investing in its social well-being could help turn your trajectory around. Contact BreakWell and receive help determining the right plan to get your business on a healthier track, whether that involves focusing on social well-being, another pillar of well-being or more likely, a combination.

Contributing Co-Authors: Tara Kraus & Natalie Gensits


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