Kelly Feehan: What can employers do to address social wellbeing?

Kelly Feehan CABA

Social wellbeing is the ability to build personal connections with others, deal with conflict and be a part of a positive social network. It might sound simple, but that may in fact be part of the reason why social wellbeing is easily overlooked by organisations when creating employee wellness programmes fit for the modern workplace.

Cultivating social wellbeing in the workplace has never been more important. People no longer have a single employer, or just one career, flexible working and home-based settings are the new normal, and the increasing lack of social interaction is an undeniable component of our ever-changing economy.

So, what can employers do?

The good news is it is not difficult to incorporate social wellbeing into wider initiatives. Plus, there does not need to be a complete overhaul of an organisation’s current strategy.

Providing opportunities for employees to socialise outside and within the workplace, such as team outings, breakout areas, group volunteer activities and parties, are just a few examples of simple but effective ways to build up the ‘social’ aspects of an employee’s working life.

Other initiatives include sharing the decision-making process with employees, offering them a sense of control and support, which will likely lead to greater wellbeing. Giving staff a role in decision-making not only ensures that the initiatives are important to them, but also supports openness, awareness and creative problem-solving.

Organisations that understand the importance of investing in their employees as genuine resources are moving toward a more holistic approach to meeting the diverse needs of today’s workplace, as outlined in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory. These requirements, such as mental, physical and financial wellbeing, can no longer be viewed as silos, separate from all other aspects of employees’ personal and professional lives.

By making the investment to include a social wellbeing component into its wellness programme, an organisation may enjoy increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and presenteeism, improved talent attraction and retention, and ultimately, happier, healthier employees.

Kelly Feehan is service director at CABA, the charity supporting the wellbeing of chartered accountants

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