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Why Businesses Should Invest in Employees’ Social Health

Posted by on in Engagement and Morale

In the world of workplace wellbeing the focus is so often on physical or mental health, but the ideas of ‘social health’ and ‘social connectedness’ have been gaining much more currency of late. At their heart, these concepts are about our social networks and what they provide us with – whether that be confidence, support, knowledge, health or something else! But both inside and outside of work we have a choice to accept the networks we find ourselves in or to work more proactively to create strong connections, which are more likely to help us to achieve our goals and, what’s more, feel better while we’re doing it!

Of course, businesses have a responsibility here too, because just as employers are responsible for creating a working environment and support systems that maximise the chances of good physical and mental health, they are also responsible for creating the conditions for social health. Whether it involves providing the time and space for social connection and social activities to take place (and by extension, giving employees permission) or whether it’s more about facilitating employee voice and connections to the wider community; employers have to play their part.

I’m really passionate about this idea of helping people to take responsibility for their own social health and it’s a topic I’ve discussed with Julia Hobsbawm, the world’s first professor of networking, many times. Her book, Fully Connected: How to Survive and Thrive in the Age of Overload, is due to be released next year and her belief is that we can all learn the basic skills of networking no matter what our make-up or personality is. And not just that, she advocates that businesses should invest in that development as part of their people and wellbeing strategies, because high levels of social connectedness inside a working population drive positive outcomes around not just wellbeing and engagement, but productivity, creativity, resilience and retention too.

If you want to understand more about the psychology of connection, I’d recommend listening to Julia’s recent programme for BBC Radio 4, ‘The six degrees of connection’, in which she takes a look at the idea behind the classic psychological experiment by Stanley Milgram in the 1960s that led to the idea that everyone in the world is separated by just 6 connections – the so-called ‘six degrees of separation’. Julia considers whether this theory stands up today and goes on to look at how networks relate to health in the modern world. Her conclusions are a must-hear for anyone interested in how to create more good days at work!

Discover more about Julia’s immersive festival, Names Not Numbers here.

Continue the conversation with Ben on Twitter.

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Guest Thursday, 20 July 2017

Cary CooperGood Day at Work™

The new wellbeing resources hub founded by @profcarycooper and Roberston Cooper. Join for FREE and access blogs, videos, downloads, podcasts and more.

Ben MossBen on Twitter

MD of Cary Cooper's business psychology firm, Robertson Cooper - for all things wellbeing, engagement and resilience at work.

Cary CooperCary on Twitter

Professor Cary Cooper, Director and Founder of Robertson Cooper Ltd, Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Manchester Business School.

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