4 practical ways to improve social health at work

Health is important for us all, at work and in life as a whole.

We often think and talk about it as physical health and mental health. But what about social health? This could be described as team health, collaborative health, connectedness health, belonging health, networking health – basically anything that talks about the health that our social interactions (or lack thereof) create.

People spend so much time in a work environment, whether in person or online, that work becomes a major health factor for everyone. How people engage with each other – or not – becomes a driver of social health, which impacts both physical and mental health.

The workplace is a CULTURE SPACE.

Work isn’t just the tasks we perform, how many calls we take, how many deals we close, how many meetings we participate in or run.

No, work is of course all the connections in between people, the glue that is needed to make the whole greater and more valuable than the sum of its parts.

And to be successful into the future, we need to make the most of those connections so that people can work together to solve the challenges here and now and in the future.

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity

World Health Organisation

THE IMPACT OF POOR SOCIAL HEALTH AT WORK

Here are just some of the reasons why poor social health is so bad for both people and the organisations they work for.

  • When relationships between people are poor it causes stress and therefore limits the brain’s capacity to think creatively and collaboratively, further damaging relationships and collaboration.
  • Research into trust shows that it takes 3.5 positive interactions to overcome one negative interaction between colleagues and reestablish good relationship and trust.
  • The organisation’s brand and reputation can be damaged by poor collaboration as things take longer and mixed communication can negatively impact customers and other stakeholders.

Yes, good social health is a must.

So let’s look at 4 practical ways to promote and positively impact social health at work.

1. BE AWARE OF YOUR IMPACT

How do you show up in meetings? Are you friendly, constructive, inclusive, constructively challenging, a good listener? What ripples out from you? Do you make people want to collaborate with you? Do you help people feel safe and supported in your company?

2. THINK OF YOUR COLLEAGUES AS CUSTOMERS

Be as kind and helpful to your colleagues as you would be to a customer/client. Think about how you can be of service to them, how you can add value to them, how you can go that extra mile to help them be successful. And notice how your interpersonal relations strengthen and how you can do an even better job.

3. TAKE TIME TO TALK

Work isn’t just the tasks we do, we need to value and maintain the relationships with those we work with, those who depend on us and whom we depend on. Take a moment to call a colleague to just check how they are, just have a chat. Listen well and authentically.

The investment in the time that it takes to talk is paid back in no time when it comes to the smoothness in interaction. And don’t just talk to your ‘favourites’, the ones you get on with the most – make the effort to reach out to those you maybe don’t talk to as much.

4. BUILD YOUR NETWORK

And in that same vein, actively build your network. Think about who you can connect with for creative exchange, to learn from each other, to support and challenge each other. Seek out people who are different to you – think about things like gender, culture, age, education, experience, preferences, personality and strengths. And notice how you not just build more and better relationships, but you also supercharge your learning and insights.

“To be kind is more important than to be right. Many times what people need is not a brilliant mind that speaks but a special heart that listens.”

Unknown author

Author: Mandy and Elisabet

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