Human beings have an innate desire to be connected to others and to belong, but loneliness pulls people away from social connections and is becoming a serious concern for employers. When loneliness is not addressed quickly, it can impact office productivity, morale and employee health. According to a recent survey, most U.S. companies had some or all their employees working from home in 2020. This new reality can lead to an uptick in loneliness during work time. Employees working virtually may feel cut off from the rest of their team because they don’t see them face-to-face or cannot have their regular lunch or break time with their co-workers. Leaders need to try to keep their teams connected. This can include virtual lunches, starting huddles with personal updates, or having the camera on during meetings so everyone can be seen. Employers have the unique ability to make a difference in addressing loneliness effectively. Consider these additional strategies:
- Evaluate the organization’s current state of social connection by asking employees whether they feel valued and whether the company supports social connections.
- Encourage employees to seek help when needed. Give them resources including your employee assistance program and virtual opportunities for counseling.
- Create opportunities for employees to learn more about each other, including personal experiences and hobbies so that they feel they have someone at work to whom they’re connected. According to Gallup, having a friend at work increases a person’s likelihood of engagement and lessens the chances of them looking to leave the company.
- Encourage gratitude and acts of kindness between employees. When a person feels seen and appreciated it can lead to connections that combat loneliness. When someone on your team does a good job, thank them. Send a note or email or mention them in a team huddle.
Learn more about how workers feel isolated and how, for them, it may be hard to imagine how work may become a psychologically safe space where friendships easily form and flourish in this Blue Cross® Virtual Well-Being webinar. During the webinar, experts discuss how to nurture a culture that encourages connections at work. You can also sign up for future employer-focused and general interest webinars here, where you’ll also find past sessions and resources. Related:
- Tech Tips for Employee Well-Being
- Building an Inclusive Workplace
- Working with Introverts and Extroverts
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