We are social beings that crave connection. Imagine this. You work from home and only come into the office once a week. At times, you can’t seem to match the faces with names on your screen. You might even feel lonely or disconnected because you spend majority of the workday interacting with yourself.
After COVID-19, many employers transitioned into a fully remote or a hybrid environment. Adapting to these new changes means implementing new strategies to support social health and wellness.
Social wellness is about building healthy and interpersonal relationships with other people in your community. Your community could be anyone in your neighborhood, school, city, work, or who you interact with.
In a workplace, social wellness focuses on social acceptance, social coherence, social contribution and integration, and organizational belongingness. The engagement and support we feel from our colleagues, executives, and organization are more important than you think. Our need to feel part of a community can impact our physical and mental health.
Some of the impacts of poor social wellness include:
Poor Mental Health. Feeling lonely in the workplace was a common experience even before the pandemic. However, loneliness and feeling alone are two different terms. Loneliness is an emotional state of feeling disconnected or isolated despite having someone next to you. It’s been found that loneliness is associated with lowered performance, creativity, and decision making. In a Microsoft report, “59% of hybrid employees and 56% of remote employees report having fewer work ‘friendships’ since going hybrid or remote”. When we work remotely, we miss out those small interactions with others that impact our well-being.
Poor Physical Health. Not only is our mental health affected by isolation, our physical health is as well. Feeling lonely can increase our cortisol levels, which affect our immune system and cascade into other areas such as elevated blood pressure and inflammation. It can be just as bad as bad a smoking 15 cigarettes daily. Some of these impacts include the following:
High blood pressure
Chronic health conditions
Risk of heart disease and heart attack
Some of your colleagues are happy and enjoy their time alone, which is perfectly fine. However, it’s important to recognize the benefits of socializing.
Benefits of Social Wellness:
You Level Up. Socializing helps form meaningful connections and improves your personal development. You can learn how to manage conflict, build relationships, problem solve, and improve communication skills. This creates a sense of a positive workplace and leaves you feeling more engaged in you work. Fostering wellness can improve the rates of absenteeism and retention, and boost morale. When speaking to your coworker, notice how you feel afterwards. Does your mind feel lighter or mood seem better?
You feel a sense of belonging. If you notice your coworkers seem distance or busy, try to include them in your event. Fostering inclusivity can make a big difference in your team’s and organization’s wellness. You might not notice it, but your individuality is so valued in you organization. The head of the organization likes to recognize everyone’s accomplishments and celebrate them because they matter. Good teamwork and collaboration is cultivated if both employers and employees respect and trust one another. A simple daily check-in can also create a sense of belonging and lead to healthier lives. You can talk about your mental health in a more personal setting with your manager and bring up concerns about your workload such as feeling burnt out.
Based on Total Wellness Health, they describe healthy social employees with these characteristics:
Increased productivity and work performance
More creative and resilience
Boost self-esteem and confidence
More loyal to employer and colleagues
Some ideas to promote social connection:
Pick a Social Spot. It is important to find an area where you and your colleagues can feel comfortable decompressing without distracting other people. You can repurpose a room to be more zen or add fun games, snacks, or pictures into a room. If there is no spare room for a social spot, you can always make one with chairs! Make sure remote employees are included in meetings, gatherings, and other social events.
Go to Happy Hour. Building time outside of work can also foster relationships with your coworkers. Celebrate birthdays, holidays, and work achievements with your coworkers. Initiate happy hours with your team after finishing a project. You can even host a weekly team brunch or happy hour.
Connect Departments. Having team outings or Team/Zoom meetings with other departments can strengthen your relationship with people you don’t normally interact with. This could be a great networking opportunity and way to learn from other people's skills and expertise. Connecting with others might even land you a new job opportunity.
It is important to not only take care of yourself but take care of your colleagues. Practicing these activities can promote social wellness. When you feel supported, recognized, and trusted with your colleagues, supervisors, and organization, you will start to notice a difference in your health!
Learn more about Wellness Workdays and our wellness program offerings by
downloading our brochure.
Written by Tiffany Leung, Wellness Workdays Intern