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Best Practices in Developing a Social Well-being Strategic Plan

Having strong and positive relationships has far-reaching impacts, from reducing mortality risk to increasing engagement at work. With that in mind, helping employees build healthy relationships with their co-workers and enabling connections to others and the surrounding community should be an important part of any sustainable organizational well-being strategy.

How to use this playbook

The Social Well-being Playbook is a self-service tool. You can use it as a guide for the social dimension of your well-being strategy. You’ll find tips for developing a business case for your program, followed by a four-step process to put it into action. Each of the four steps includes an aggregate of online resources for both employers and employees. 

Developing the business case for social well-being

Social well-being is essential to overall well-being. However, social well-being has not been a common element of strategy. Social well-being is about feeling connected to others. Employers can support it by building a healthy, diverse, inclusive community within the organization while taking steps to enable connection to the communities in which the business operates.

Why focus on social well-being?

Potential strategy drivers
  • Lack of social support increases the risk for early death and heart disease and recent Gallup data showed that when US individuals were asked if they felt lonely or worried "during a lot of the day, yesterday" 24% of respondents reported that they felt lonely and 47% responded that they felt worried.

  • There is an increase in health-related productivity losses due to absenteeism and presenteeism when employees work under unfavorable work conditions characterized by high demands, lack of appreciation, lack of respect, and lack of social support at work. 

  • Gallup research shows people who have a “best friend at work” are not only more likely to be happier and healthier but are also seven times as likely to be engaged in their job.

  • Diverse and inclusive organizations are more likely to attract and engage top talent and eight times more likely to achieve better business results. 

  • Gallup has also found that strong social connections outside of work are essential as well. Leaders and managers can ask employees about their friends and loved ones and ask employees to share stories about time spent away from work to demonstrate their authentic care. 

  • Social well-being extends beyond work relationships and family connections. It includes connection to the organization itself and to the impact the organization has on the surrounding environment. Increasingly, individuals are looking to work for organizations that care about the welfare of their employees and the greater good. 

  • Teams with inclusive leaders are 17% more likely to report that they are high performing, 20% more likely to say they make high-quality decisions, and 29% more likely to report they behave collaboratively. Beyond that, organizations that improved perceptions of inclusion by 10% saw increases in work attendance by almost one day a year per employee, reducing the cost of absenteeism.

What opportunities exist to support the social well-being of employees?

What to evaluate for potential opportunities
  • Culture of worksite social support and general health and well-being

  • Workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) strategy, along with diverse, equitable, and inclusive benefits and resources 

  • Spouse and family engagement and utilization of well-being resources, along with organizational community involvement

  • Professional development by training managers and supervisors to provide support 

  • Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) 

How will social well-being be improved?

Potential tactics to improve social well-being
  • Create an inclusive supportive, caring workplace culture that meets the needs of a diverse workforce. 

  • Offer opportunities for employees to connect and build relationships through employee resource groups, mentoring, and other activities.

  • Offer programs and assessments that facilitate connection and understanding of individual personalities and work styles such as CultureTalk™, Insights, Enneagram, and Myers Briggs.

  • Design a work environment/culture that enables connection, collaboration, and healthy activity.

  • Provide well-being resources to employees’ dependents to enable social support for healthy behavior beyond the workplace.

  • Create and execute a social impact strategy that includes community-building and environmental initiatives.


Social Well-being Playbook contributors

  • Jenna Doucette
  • Bobbie Victory

Please contact Susan Bailey or Jennifer Dale with questions about the social well-being playbooks.