How to Nurture Connections & Avoid Loneliness in the Workplace

Loneliness can have a significant impact on mental health, productivity and overall well-being, so building strong relations in the workplace is not only important for fostering a positive work environment and retaining staff, but also for combating isolation among employees and creating a sense of belonging.

This week is Loneliness Awareness Week, during which the Marmalade Trust is raising awareness of loneliness whilst encouraging everyone to make and maintain close connections. The theme is Random Acts of Connection, inspiring people to increase those simple, everyday moments which help us feel happier and less lonely.

If you are looking for some strategies you can employ to help reduce loneliness in your workplace, we’ve put together some practical ideas for connecting your team this week.

1. Make time to do shared activities

Why do I feel lonely at work?

Numerous studies have highlighted the correlation between social connectedness in the workplace and elevated levels of employee engagement and productivity.

Organising team-building events can enable communication and connection between coworkers that may not typically happen day to day. Collecting input from employees regarding the types of activities they would enjoy participating often helps with engagement.

Small or big, half a day or half an hour, cultivating a socially connected workplace can create an environment that nurtures engagement and ultimately enhances overall productivity. Here are some examples that would take one to two hours:

  • Interactive training sessions
  • Escape rooms
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Two truths and one lie game
  • Sports day
  • Company quiz
  • Paper plane competition (in teams)

 

Integrate non-work-related conversations into team meetings, inquiring about colleagues’ personal lives and fostering an inclusive atmosphere where such interactions are welcomed and encouraged.

This week, our own team will be spending quality time with each other, enjoying lunch from a local restaurant and sharing some personal stories in a safe space.

2. Reduce the stigma and talk about it

Loneliness at work

Normalise conversations around loneliness When broaching the topic of loneliness, it’s helpful to employ language that avoids inadvertent stigmatisation.

Instead of phrases like “suffering from loneliness” or “admitting to it,” which can carry negative connotations, opt for more neutral terms such as “experiencing loneliness”.

Loneliness is a natural human emotion that many individuals encounter at various points in their lives.

Encourage individuals to feel comfortable discussing their emotional state and seeking support when needed, ultimately fostering a more understanding and compassionate society.

3. Create opportunity for micro-connections

What is a coping mechanism for loneliness

Micro-connections can be brief, seemingly insignificant moments of connection or interaction between people.

These small interactions can occur in various settings, such as the workplace, social gatherings or even during casual encounters with strangers, such as:

  1. Making eye contact and exchanging a smile with someone while passing by.
  2. Engaging in a brief friendly conversation with a cashier or barista while making a purchase.
  3. Offering a compliment or words of encouragement to a coworker or classmate.
  4. Holding the door open for someone and exchanging a simple “thank you” or “you’re welcome.”
  5. Asking a coworker how their weekend was or inquiring about their plans for the upcoming holiday.

Despite their brevity, micro-connections can have a profound impact on an individual’s well-being and sense of belonging.

Remember, building strong connections happens over time and consistent effort. By being proactive, empathetic, and professional in your interactions, you can foster meaningful relationships that enhance your work experience and contribute to a positive workplace culture.

Random Acts of Connection are equally important for onboarding new staff, relocators and remote workers as well as the wider workforce.

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