As humans, we are created to be social. Even introverts (although, perhaps, not in the same way as extroverts), need to have meaningful relationships with others. We need what’s called social well-being, and the workplace stands in an ideal position to help foster it.
Social well-being is the extent to which we feel a sense of belonging, a sense of being connected to others. We achieve social well-being in part through our lifestyles, value systems, traditions, beliefs and, yes, our careers. Social well-being is one of the five well-being areas that Gallup’s Tom Rath and Jim Harter describe in their book Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements.
Rath and Harter cite data that suggests that to have a “thriving day,” we need 6 hours of social time. They indicate that, “When we get at least six hours of daily social time, it increases our wellbeing and minimizes stress and worry.”
Six hours may seem like an unattainable goal, but it isn’t so much, if you count the hours spent at the workplace. Employers have an super opportunity to encourage social well-being by creating ways for co-workers to connect with one another. Yes, getting the job done is crucial to the health of an organization, but that ultimate goal doesn’t means that companies need to sacrifice social opportunities. In fact, encouraging interaction that goes beyond regular meetings or phone calls (which do actually count toward the six hours) promotes overall well-being, and can certainly lead to happy, healthy, productive team members.
In addition to the regular workplace interactions, organizations wanting to be more intentional about social well-being could and should organize:
- Events such as employee potluck lunches, well-being fairs, group volunteering days and more.
- Programs such as employee sports teams and lunchtime book clubs, for instance.
Providing social well-being opportunities in the workplace doesn’t have to be over-the-top grand, it just needs to be intentional, not accidental. When employees feel that they belong, that they are part of the overall scheme of the workplace (its mission and existence), and that they are connected with their co-workers, they look forward to coming to work…. and that’s a good thing.
We continue our look at the various elements of well-being next week with financial well-being.