Just as imperative as vitamins are to our bodies’ health and functioning, there is no denying that a sense of belonging and connection are vital components of achieving well-being.
What does community mean to you? There are many different definitions of community. In their book Well-being: The Five Essential Elements, Rath and Harter¹ describe community as having a sense of engagement with the area you live. One definition from the English Oxford Dictionary² defines community as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
Community isn’t necessarily just the people who live nearby, but can also be made up of a group of people that share common interests and attitudes; such as sports team’s fans, volunteer organizations, and particularly the people we work with. We spend a large part of our waking hours at the workplace and having an environment that supports strong community ties can help foster employee happiness and productivity, in and out of work. Community creates a sense of belonging and connection and we urge you to define what it means to you and how you can get more vitamin “C”ommunity, in a way that works for you.
Living in such a busy world, people are struggling to balance taking care of themselves and their families, so the thought of “giving back to the community” and adding to their to-do list can be overwhelming. Volunteer work and “giving back” can make you feel good about yourself and your contribution, but having a strong sense of community can benefit you in even more ways. Becoming more involved in your community could open doors to having more support and people to lean on to help you.
The key is to identify a need or interest you have and identify a strength that you can contribute. For example, if you want to exercise more and hate going to the gym, but enjoy yard work, you could offer to rake some leaves for your elderly neighbor that can’t do it themselves. Is there something that neighbor could do for you? Maybe the neighbor would be willing to lend you something, bake you something, or watch your kids for an hour while you run an errand. Everyone can benefit when we start interacting with our community in this way. It’s not a one-way street and community well-being is so much more than “giving back”. It can be a life sustaining antioxidant that enriches our life.
How are you encouraging community well-being at your workplace? Here are some simple suggestions to increase camaraderie and create a stronger tie between your employees!
Establish an employee reward/recognition system. Employees can nominate their co-workers who have gone above and beyond.
Incorporate a well-being program that utilizes team based challenges.
Take 30 minutes to eat lunch with your team and discuss topics that are non-work related.
Get your team involved in non-work activities such as fitness classes, happy hour, going to a movie, painting, or putt-putt golf.
¹Rath, T., & Harter J. (2010).Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements. New York, NY: Gallup/
²Community (n.d.) English Oxford Living Dictionaries. Retrieved February 16, 2017 from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/community