Connection: Fighting Loneliness in the Workplace
Most of us will spend at least one third of our lives at work. This means our work and our relationships at work are incredibly important!
Unfortunately, some 40% of Australians feel lonely at work, and 45% of British employees feel lonely at work all or most of the time. And these lonely workers are more likely to get sick, have lower wellbeing, make mistakes, or report lower productivity that what they are capable of.
Sometimes forming relationships at work can be tricky. It can be intimidating, you might be wary of overstepping professional boundaries, or there may not be much time left in your work day for socialising.
The way a business or a specific team runs can really impact the level of loneliness in a workplace. There are four factors that can help or hinder the efforts of your employees:
- Organisational culture and behaviours;
- Work-life balance, including workload and the work hours;
- The style of work, such as workplaces where remote working is required; and
- The physical environment of the workplace, including the layout, amenity and facilities of the workplace.
Tips to Fight Loneliness at Work
A key part of UK’s new Loneliness Strategy will involve a network of high-profile businesses – including Sainsbury’s, Transport for London, Co-op, British Red Cross, National Grid and the Civil Service – pledging to take further action to support their employees’ health and social wellbeing.
Connection is the key to overcome loneliness. Here are some handy tips for increasing connection at work:
Model and Reward the Right Behaviours
Are your team leaders welcoming, approachable and available? Do they say hello, encourage people to contribute and make them feel safe enough to perhaps share a part of their personal lives?
Create a Social Spot
Sometimes it can be difficult for employees to socialize because they don’t have an area in the office where they feel comfortable doing so. Creating a “social spot” for your employees will give them an area where they can decompress or socialize without distracting other colleagues. Consider repurposing an empty area at your company to create a Zen room or game room for employees to hang out over their breaks. If you don’t have a spare room to use, try setting up some chairs or couches by popular spots for socializing in the office – like the break room or the area by the water cooler.
The more a company grows, the harder it is for different areas of the company to stay connected. Reconnecting parts of the company can be as simple as walking to a colleagues desk rather than sending an email. It may be a larger affair such as organising a day out for the whole office, or rearranging the lunchroom layout to enable more conversation and connection.
Make sure your colleagues feel seen and heard by recognising their achievements and contributions.
Celebrate success or simply a relevant occasion, like the end of year, end of the month or the birthdays of team members.
Take office challenges to the team level, rather than focusing on individual results. For example, a team walking challenge will get colleagues to come together for a positive cause.
Take the Employer Pledge
The UK’s new strategy has included the “Time to Change Employer Pledge“, a commitment to changing the way they think and act about mental health in the workplace. It’s a great idea that might suit your own workplace.
What does Your Workplace do to Increase Connection?
There are many opportunities to tackle loneliness at work. We’ve built iyarn to foster connection and improve the performance of teams, including focus, alignment, culture and engagement.
If you’re the first in your workplace, login and build a wheel by downloading the app from App Store (for iPhone) and Google Play (for Android) or use iyarn’s web app if you’re on a desktop. Set up a wheel in a few clicks and then share it to the people you need to check in with.
If you want help to implement the app with your team, reach out to iyarn.