During the pandemic, companies embraced remote work and adapted to online meetings. Now, with relatively high vaccination rates and relaxed mask mandates, an increasing number are slowly making the transition back to in-person work.
However, after several years of uncertainty, the change is challenging. One way to ease the transition is by building a positive work culture rooted in community and collaboration. If you’re a business owner seeking new ways to engage employees as they return to the office, positivity starts with redefining social wellness. Now more than ever, it’s important to commit to meaningful changes that help maintain employee satisfaction while encouraging them to reconnect with their colleagues.
Redefining social wellness for your employees
Traditionally, employee wellness largely focused on physical health. During the pandemic, many employers began shifting to a holistic approach to wellness that includes prioritizing mental and emotional health issues like burnout or the importance of processing difficult emotions. More employers have started offering health benefits that can help their workers not only save money, but invest in their personal wellness.
Wellness also includes connection. Although remote work had its perks, we are naturally social creatures. Many people suffered from a lack of connection and a sense of isolation. According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2021 study, two common struggles of working remotely were loneliness and lack of collaboration, which can lead to lowered productivity and morale.
One way companies can combat isolation is by creating programs that encourage social interaction among employees. By helping to balance work and fun, businesses actively build a work culture where people feel seen and cared for.
Some simple, yet effective ways to foster a positive and cohesive work culture in-person are:
- Volunteering with the team: Volunteering as a company helps build relationships while everyone contributes to a good cause.
- Participating in a fitness program: Whether it’s group yoga or Zumba, engaging in a fitness session together can increase camaraderie.
- Hosting company-wide events: With more opportunities to interact as a company, employees will get to know their teams better, laying the foundation for collaboration.
Social wellness for remote and hybrid work environments
If your organization is sticking with a remote or hybrid option, there are still plenty of virtual ways that business owners and team leaders can cultivate a team spirit and encourage social interactions:
- Start virtual meetings with icebreakers: Take the time to connect with your coworkers with lighthearted questions before a meeting. This fosters a welcoming environment where employees can feel comfortable enough to share their personal stories and thoughts.
- Offer feedback sessions: Investing in employees and their growth is important. With a constant stream of feedback, you can learn how to identify their needs and provide support.
- Initiate one-on-one meetings: Managers and supervisors can build strong professional relationships with employees by getting to know them through regular one-on-one meetings, which provide extra opportunities for important conversations.
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Establishing a positive workplace environment and prioritizing social wellness can be a challenging feat. By incorporating these suggestions—and some of your own creativity—you can help your employees become reengaged with their work environment and make meaningful connections with coworkers.
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