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How to keep supporting social wellbeing in a hybrid working model

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Posted by Karen Thornley on 03 March 2022

How to keep supporting social wellbeing in a hybrid working model

Flexible working | Agile working | Wellbeing | Flexible Benefits

Work from home guidance may have ended, but many organisations will be continuing to offer hybrid or even fully remote working as standard. Covid-19 has changed the game on flexible working – many employees will never go back to five days in the office. Their work-life balance is better for it and employers who insist on 100% office attendance risk missing out on top talent as a result. 

The flipside is that hybrid working and lockdowns have massively impacted a sense of community at work. In-person connectivity continues to have massive benefits for organisations, but it requires considerable management attention to get right.  

Linked to this is employee connectivity: how aligned employees feel to your company purpose, and if they feel like they belong on your team. According to McKinsey, not feeling a sense of belonging was one of the most frequently cited reasons why employees left a job in the past six months. 

Post-pandemic, we need to direct effort into building interpersonal connections, even if still virtually, and our strategies to improve social wellbeing need to include employee reward and recognition, celebrating success and giving back. 

Social wellbeing  

As an employer, a key way you can help employees find job satisfaction 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. 

An ever-evolving world 

The way we work is changing, with technology enabling greater flexibility than ever before. We're getting used to managing as a hybrid team, with some remote employees and others in the office.  

However, working remotely can leave employees experiencing loneliness, and isolation 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 is key to ensuring the wellbeing of your workforce – it’s the glue that keeps it all together. 

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. 

Action points 

So, how to improve social wellbeing at hybrid working organisations? The aim is to make employees feel and therefore perform better at work by connecting with colleagues and the business on a personal level. 

A starting point could be using your employee 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 time 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. 

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