Formal and informal social networks can provide great support for well-being improvement. They allow us to achieve things we couldn’t do on our own and influence our behavior. These connections and relationships keep us happier and healthier.
Isolation and loneliness are actually linked to increased risk of chronic disease and mortality. Robert Waldinger, the director of a 75-year-old Harvard Study of Adult Development, reveals in his TED Talk that socially disconnected people are "less happy, their health declines earlier in midlife, their brain functioning declines sooner, and they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely." This is why social networking is so important in the workplace.
5 ways social networks can support well-being improvement:
1. Designate well-being champions. Seek out volunteers who will create buzz around your wellness program. Their job is to offer encouragement and support to co-workers on a consistent basis. Rotate the role so everyone has an opportunity to lead.
2. Connect employees across business groups and locations who would not normally meet. Networking and collaboration helps employees see themselves as part of something bigger. It also opens up new opportunities for innovation and improvement in and outside the office. Try including more than one team in offsites, brainstorms, or coffee chats.
3. Schedule “micro-breaks” across the organization motivating everyone to get up and move 1-2 minutes every hour. Stretch for 30 seconds or take a lap around the office. Build rapport by giving each other high-fives and positive affirmations for focusing on well-being improvement.
4. Foster accountability — a broader community may be better positioned to hold individuals accountable to their commitments than co-workers, since they are further removed from the day-to-day work and dynamics of the team. Encourage teams across the company to share their goals with one another.
5. Volunteer together. Giving back to the community can connect people on a deeper level. Volunteering can create cohesion among all levels of employees, strengthen ties to the community and broaden your support network.
Want more steps you can take today to foster social networks at your company? Check out our new interactive experience on organizational support.