Social Cohesion Through Encounters

“It was the most instructive week of my life. I felt as if someone had put humanity glasses on me." 

This is how leaders from the private sector react to an intensive week at a social institution. In a 5-day SeitenWechsel (“Swapping Sides”) people work together who don’t normally run into each other in everyday life. Prejudices and fears of contact are reduced through direct encounters with people from different backgrounds.

The SeitenWechsel intensive week goes far beyond just “getting in touch”. It’s also a valuable training program, in which managers, for example in an addiction ward, recognize that strict rules and empathy can go hand in hand. In a psychiatric clinic, they experience how blurred the line between healthy and sick is, or in a youth centre they learn what it means to lead under difficult conditions.

With SeitenWechsel, the participants immerse themselves in foreign worlds and develop further by leaving their comfort zone and broadening their own horizons. They strengthen their social, personal and leadership skills and their sensitivity to social issues and societal challenges. At the same time, they are motivated to get involved in their professional or private lives, be it by approaching challenges differently in their team, by destigmatizing topics in the company as multipliers, or by volunteering.

Why It Needs More Understanding

Society in Switzerland is drifting apart. There are parallel lifeworlds that hardly touch each other. Many live and work in a bubble and are more or less comfortable with it. Distance and alienation lead to prejudice, a lack of understanding and fear of contact. Topics and population groups that are foreign to you are avoided or taboo. Everyone can benefit from other perspectives or approaches.

This alienation also exists between the economic world and the social world. If you’re not intimately familiar with social challenges, then it is also difficult as a company or individual to react to them responsibly. A connection between the private sector and social institutions is profitable for all sides – for companies, social institutions, and participants, but also for society as a whole.

Why SeitenWechsel Is Worthwhile For Companies

  • Responding to stakeholder expectations:
    Commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of a company is only credible if it relates not only externally but also internally, i.e. to the employees.
  • Increasing the loyalty of employees:
    Sustainable human resources management, promoting the personal development of employees, and social commitment have a positive impact on loyalty to the company.
  • Meeting the social challenges in the company:
    Companies need managers who can competently deal with challenges such as addiction, mental health or limited ability to work.
  • Anchoring social responsibility in the corporate culture:
    In order for CSR to be lived in the company, relevant knowledge, sensitivity, understanding and, above all, role models and multipliers are required.
  • Promoting social skills:
    SeitenWechsel is an action- and experience-oriented further education that does not take place in artificially staged environments, but in real life.

Taking Care of Employees, The Company and Society

With SeitenWechsel, companies combine the further training of their executives with social commitment as part of sustainable human resources management. The participants not only reflect on their social and leadership skills, but also examine their views of people and the world. After seeing and experiencing a “swapping of sides”, managers are more motivated, more innovative, more loyal and make more mature decisions.

SeitenWechsel sensitises you to social responsibility and to social and health challenges in companies and society. In this way, as multipliers, they contribute to greater understanding and ultimately more cohesion in society.

Valerie Brockhaus
About the author
Valerie Brockhaus
SeitenWechsel: More than further training

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