Social wellness in the workplace doesn’t get as much press as productivity and retention, but it should – because it heavily impacts both. Social wellness refers to the quality and quantity of relationships we have, and considering how much time American employees spend at work (40.3 hours is average for ages 25-54), the relationships we have in the workplace are very important to our quality of life.

And the quality of work.

Nearly two-thirds of employees who have at least six friends at the office say they love their company.

And people who love their company tend to be engaged, work more productively, and stick around.

Social wellness, really, is the linchpin to so many benefits, not to mention a more enjoyable work environment for everyone. So spend a little time fostering those relationships. You’ll see big dividends.

The goal of each of the activities below is to lay the foundations for genuine friendships among colleagues, as well as improve communication and understanding. This is also a great way to lay groundwork to ensure you handle workplace conflict! Take a look at our previous post Got Engagement? Great! Now for Conflict Management


5 Ways to Boost Social Wellness at Work

1. Vote on a volunteer opportunity – and do it!

Have your employees brainstorm a list of volunteer opportunities they care about, and vote on the one you’d like to do together. Maybe it’s a 5-K, installing a community garden, or volunteering to help build for

Habitat for Humanity. The important part is to let your employees brainstorm and choose so they are invested in the cause.

To get the most out of the volunteer experience, have a ‘debriefing’ meeting afterwards to share stories and lessons learned after the event.


2. Boost communication and understanding

Our office, and our UK office, learned a lot about each other by using tools like Kolbe and Strengthsfinder and sharing the results. Invite employees to share what they found surprising or interesting about their results, and other people’s results. That conversation alone can reveal how different people’s minds work – and how best to support each other.

Boost communication with these tips >


3. Body + Mind + Community

Invite a yoga instructor to come in an hour before the workday starts for an optional group yoga class. Not only is it good for everyone’s physical health to get moving, it’s a wonderful way to start the day feeling calm, centered, and not too sweaty. But, it doesn’t have to be yoga. Stefan has been talking about going to a spin class together!

How to include mental health in your business strategy >


4. Encourage after-work clubs

Envisionit, a digital marketing agency that shares our building, has a whiskey club for its employees on Thursdays. They set up the kitchen like a picnic, complete with blanket and flowers, bring out the whiskey, and chat. It’s so simple and unforced. In our office, we have a book club as part of our regular work, because continued learning is a priority for all of us. Maybe your office has a number of gardeners who’d enjoy a backyard produce sharing club, or a board game night, or a bowling team.

Ask your employees about their hobbies to see if you can find a common interest to build a group around. It’s a great way to learn their hidden depths!


5. Mix it up

If your company prizes innovation and creativity, try mixing up a few after-work activities so everyone gets to stretch their creative muscles. You can invite your employees to submit their ideas for one-off activities they’d like to try, like a wine & paint night, photography workshop, pottery class, skateboard lesson or cooking class (and that’s just from Groupon).

Remember: You can’t dictate co-worker relationships, but you can prepare the soil from which they grow

It’s important to note that the activities listed above are not top-down, owner-dictated “team-building activities.” They’re grounded in the interests and passions of the employees. By inviting employees to share their passions with each other, you’re laying the groundwork for real friendships – and employee engagement.