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    Office return ‘not enough’ for good social wellbeing

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    Experts from Tictrac say enabling consistent and meaningful interactions are still vital as employees return to the office, as physical proximity alone cannot foster significant social wellbeing. It comes as data from Aon found that less than 3 in ten employers (27%) say that virtual or remote working is a barrier to improving social wellbeing.

    The research showed that beyond remote working, core issues that employers agree are barriers to social wellbeing include: COVID-19 required social distancing (38%), Time/shift work (21%), Lack of overall employee engagement in organisations (20%), Cultural barriers (13%), Lack of team focused work (12%) as well as Uncollaborative work environments (10%).

    Despite these prominent barriers, only 65% of organisations incorporate social wellbeing into their strategy, compared to 70% who incorporate physical wellbeing and 67% emotional wellbeing.

    Martin Blinder, CEO and Founder of Tictrac, said: “Social wellbeing is a vital pillar of our overall wellbeing, but it needs daily care. Having people physically back together in the office isn’t enough to unite teams.

    “Wellbeing isn’t a one-off event. Like happiness, it’s not a permanent state. Some days our wellbeing might be great, but on others it’s not. That’s why we consistently need to look after ourselves. Engagement is the same – it can swing depending on the employee.

    “As we begin to socialise again, consistent and meaningful interactions will make more of a difference to employees than one big  re-uniting. Welcoming employees back with a team-building event might be a great way to kick off re-integrating teams and colleagues old and new, but we’re not the same people we were 18 months ago. We need time to get to know each other again through consistent interactions, in some ways and more so for some people, learning how to do it again.”

    Aon’s research also found that 42% of employers struggle to maintain employee engagement in wellbeing programmes, while another 42% said employee engagement and interest was a challenge when expanding or starting wellbeing initiatives. 

    The research also found that of the 87% of companies who have wellbeing initiatives in place, only 55% have a strategy.

    Blinder suggested that employers can use more encouraging strategies to unite teams, such as bringing competition and purpose into social wellbeing:

    “A little healthy competition is a great way to increase social interactions and provide a space for social wellbeing to flourish, all without it feeling like forced fun. It’s also a chance to reconnect with purpose, which is proven to be a huge factor when it comes to motivation and behaviour.

    “We can see from the research that 60% of companies don’t currently offer social or sporting clubs, 59% don’t currently encourage participation in charity walks or runs and 41% don’t currently provide shared collaboration spaces.

    However, mixing social wellbeing into a wellbeing strategy like this will not only get engagement high, but it will also keep it there. All the while, fostering connection and camaraderie.”

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    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien