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How employers can support happiness at work through social wellbeing


Posted on: Wednesday September 22, 2021

by Karen Thornley, Chief Commercial Officer

International Week of Happiness at Work. Fancy title, but a simple idea – how can we make our jobs more enjoyable?

However many hours we work, it makes life a lot easier if we enjoy our time there and find it fulfilling. Because when we’re happy at work, we’re more likely to be happy in other areas of life.

And from an employer’s point of view, happy employees perform better, stay in role longer and deliver greater value to the business.

Pulling the right lever

Of course, employees’ happiness depends on a mixture of elements in their personal and professional life. As an employer, a key way you can help employees find fulfilment in their work is by connecting with colleagues and the organisation on a personal level. Such initiatives generally fall under the umbrella of ‘social wellbeing.’

Social wellbeing can refer to an employee’s social connections within a business, such as their relationships with peers, managers, and leadership. But the term also includes areas with an external focus, regarding company values and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

For a business to truly reap the benefit from a social wellbeing programme, there needs to be cohesion between its internal culture and how it interacts with the outside world. It’s an opportunity to dig down into the organisation’s core values and articulate exactly why employees should want to work there, and crucially, why they should feel proud to do so.

Why bother with all this corporate soul-searching? An employee who believes in their company’s values and CSR initiatives will be personally invested in the business’ success, resulting in them working harder. In the same vein, employees who feels like they belong will be more loyal, ergo staying at the business for longer.

Feels good to do good

Social wellbeing sits side-by-side with mental wellbeing, and there is an undoubted wellbeing boost that comes simply through the act of ‘doing good’. Companies which provide opportunities for their staff to volunteer will generate goodwill both on a personal level – “I did something good today” - and a corporate one - “I feel good about working for this company.”

We know that employees place importance not just on how well they perform day-to-day, but on how their work is making the world a better place. For example, for those working in care homes, the social value of their role is obvious, but other employees may appreciate the experience of doing good through CSR initiatives.

By linking their employer to shared social values, employees can build a deeper connection with their work and its relevance to the wider world. It’s no longer ‘just a job’ when a role delivers personal as well as professional value.

An ever-evolving world

The way we work is changing, with technology enabling greater flexibility than ever before. However, remote working can leave employees feeling lonely and disconnected from the meaning of their work. We shouldn’t lose sight of the value of genuine human connection, whether within the company itself or the world it inhabits. 

When it comes to social responsibility, employees increasingly expect organisations to not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. Forward-thinking employers are leaning into social wellbeing to demonstrate what their corporate values mean to the people on the ground. They recognise that fostering social connection should be a core aim of any wellbeing strategy – it’s the glue that keeps it all together.

Action points

So how can you optimise your social wellbeing offering? The aim is to make employees feel and therefore perform better at work by connecting with colleagues and the organisation on a personal level.

A starting point could be using your benefits platform to communicate great CSR work you’re already doing. Detail out how the company manages charitable giving, volunteering in the community or other CSR initiatives. Make sure to highlight why these causes in particular have been chosen – do they link with corporate values? Finally, include details on how employees can get involved, and a link to sign up for the next initiative.

Organising in-house social events gives employees the chance to strengthen their relationships with colleagues. They may be used to getting together in teams or departments, but mixing up individuals across the whole company will allow new connections to form. A friendly competition like a treasure hunt provides a fun experience of working together to achieve a shared goal - useful for future collaboration.

Social wellbeing is a crucial for supporting employee happiness. Building connections between colleagues is especially important given the rise of remote working. Understanding what their employer stands for and how they live those values means staff who share them are more likely to go the extra mile.

To talk about employee happiness at your organisation, you can call us on 01908 605 000, email or visit our employee wellbeing page for more information.


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