10 Ways to Foster a Sense of Community and Social Connection Through Benefits
To help companies foster a sense of community and social connection through their employee benefits and wellness programs, we’ve gathered ten insightful strategies from industry leaders, including founders and Vice Presidents. From amplifying the visibility of wellness programs to incorporating volunteer opportunities in benefits, these experts share their best practices for creating a more connected and healthy workplace.
- Amplify the Visibility of Wellness Programs
- Implement Team-Led Fitness Initiatives
- Integrate Wellness Contests and Games
- Introduce a “Ride & Connect” Program
- Organize Monthly Workout Classes
- Establish “Wellness Wednesdays”
- Offer Stipends for Team Outings
- Promote In-Person Talk Therapy
- Support Employee Resource Groups
- Incorporate Volunteer Opportunities in Benefits
Amplify the Visibility of Wellness Programs
Employee benefits and wellness programs may struggle if they’re run in a silo, so they should always be considered as part of the total employee experience. The best way to leverage them for social connection is to make sure they’re extremely visible. Include awards in your recognition platform, mention them in your meetings, and encourage social influencers to get involved.
Implement Team-Led Fitness Initiatives
One strategy we’ve successfully implemented is the Fitness Club, a Slack channel that serves as a hub for team-led fitness initiatives focused on well-being and community building. Apart from the Fitness Club, we’ve implemented a Slack Book Club, and we encourage our team to create and lead their own interest-based clubs or well-being circles.
Because team members are leading and participating in activities that they are genuinely passionate about, engagement levels are high. Our leadership team actively participates, reinforcing the message that well-being and community are company-wide values, not just HR initiatives.
Integrate Wellness Contests and Games
One effective approach that companies can adopt within their employee benefits and wellness programs is the integration of internal wellness contests and games. Such offerings go beyond the traditional work environment, offering employees a chance to engage in friendly competition and collaboration that revolves around their health and well-being.
What sets internal wellness contests and games apart is their ability to transform wellness from a solitary pursuit into a collective endeavor. These activities encourage teamwork, motivation, and friendly rivalry, all of which contribute to a more connected and engaged workforce. By keeping participants informed about their progress through leaderboards or regular updates, companies can sustain interest and momentum throughout the contest duration.
Ultimately, the impact of these initiatives creates a positive ripple effect throughout the organization, enhancing employee morale, job satisfaction, and overall well-being.
Chief Social Impact Officer, Collaboration for Good
Introduce a “Ride & Connect” Program
In the vehicle-hire industry, employees are often dispersed across various locations and touchpoints, from desks to on-ground fleets. One strategy we’ve employed to foster community is by introducing a “Ride & Connect” program.
Every month, employees from different departments team up and take a vehicle from our fleet on a predetermined route. Along the way, they engage in team-building activities and explore wellness spots such as local parks or meditation centers.
This not only acquaints them with our product but also facilitates cross-departmental connections and conversations about well-being. The shared experience creates a sense of community, bridging gaps that geographical or departmental divides might impose.
Organize Monthly Workout Classes
We’ve found that the secret sauce to fostering a sense of community and social connection among our team is monthly workout classes!
Imagine this, our whole crew sweating it out together, whether it’s a high-intensity interval training session, a calming yoga class, or even a funky dance workout. It’s not just about getting fit; it’s about bonding, laughing, and cheering each other on.
So, if you’re looking to amp up your employee benefits and wellness programs, don’t underestimate the power of getting your team moving together. It’s a fun, healthy, and super-effective way to build a stronger, more connected community, and have a blast while blowing off some steam.
Establish “Wellness Wednesdays”
Implementing “Wellness Wednesdays” is a standout strategy for fostering community through employee benefits. Forget the standard gym memberships that collect dust. Instead, each Wednesday, host a unique wellness activity right in the office or virtually. The kicker? Let employees lead these sessions based on their own expertise and interests.
Here’s why it’s a win-win. First, wellness comes to the workplace, making it convenient and integrated into the workweek. Second, by allowing employees to lead, you empower them and add a personal touch to the program. It’s not just about physical or mental well-being; it’s about creating a shared culture and strengthening social bonds.
If you’re looking for a fresh take on employee benefits that really brings people together, consider “Wellness Wednesdays.” It’s about wellness that works in more ways than one.
Offer Stipends for Team Outings
Promoting social connections significantly boosts employee satisfaction and retention. One approach that worked well was offering stipends for team outings and activities. A set amount is provided per employee annually that they can use for team-building events—escape rooms, paint nights, meals out, etc. Employees submit reimbursement requests along with recaps of the bonding experience.
This allows closer relationships to form, and the recaps and photos are displayed in the office, so everyone can share in those community moments. It brings teams together in a fun, meaningful way outside of day-to-day work. Since rolling this out, employee NPS and retention numbers have steadily climbed. Other leaders are encouraged to get creative in finding opportunities for social connections.
Promote In-Person Talk Therapy
In the last few years, online therapy apps like BetterHelp have taken over the wellness industry. While they can be a practical option when implementing a mental health benefits program for a dispersed workforce, it’s far more effective to develop local partnerships with offices or counselors.
We all spend too much time looking at screens, and studies have shown this may be contributing to rising rates of depression and anxiety.
Benefits that encourage in-person talk therapy sessions are a great way to foster the human connection workers may be lacking.
Support Employee Resource Groups
I’m a big fan of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) myself. These are essentially affinity groups of employees with common interests, backgrounds, and other features focusing on hobbies, shared experiences, and the like.
Companies should, therefore, support and fund ERGs to encourage cross-collaboration between different employees and employee groups, which, in turn, makes for a superior sense of connection in the workplace.
Incorporate Volunteer Opportunities in Benefits
One powerful strategy to foster community and social connection is by incorporating volunteer opportunities into employee benefits. Offer paid time off for employees to engage in community service or philanthropic activities that align with the company’s mission and values. This serves multiple objectives.
First, it builds a sense of community both within the organization and externally by connecting employees to a larger purpose. Second, it enables employees to socialize in a non-work environment, fostering stronger interpersonal relationships.
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