Loneliness is affecting more of us, especially since the pandemic, and is a painful emotional response to feeling isolated.
We are naturally social beings, so good relationships are intrinsic to combating loneliness. Besides , the best way to tackle loneliness in the workplace is to build a culture of connection and community.Lorraine Williams, Head of HR for OASIS Group
8 steps to Beat Workplace Loneliness:
1. Assess the Situation
Loneliness is a subjective experience; there are no ‘rules’ for what it looks like. However, if you suspect that one of your colleagues is lonely or isolated, work on building trust with them.
It is important to often just listen without offering advice or solutions. People who are struggling with loneliness may just need to be heard.
2. Change Your Way of Working
At OASIS Group we strive to ensure working practices are encouraging, collaborative and are in safe and trusted environments. You may work in a closed-plan office, or from home, which means that you’re physically divided. Speak to your line manager to explore different ways of working.
If you feel uncomfortable with a verbal conversation, consider sending an email. This will give you time to choose your words carefully to describe your situation, thoughts and feelings.
3. Build a Team That Has a Shared Direction
Purpose gives meaning to people’s efforts, and a shared purpose builds camaraderie. Shared values can also avoid conflict and seclusion. So, counter the energy-sapping effects of loneliness by getting your team engaged and well communicated with.
At the same time, keep a lookout for negative behaviours that risk damaging team spirit, and make it at the forefront of your mind. Positivity breeds positivity.
4. Encourage Good Relationships
We can’t force people to become friends, but we can encourage opportunities for collaboration to allow people to form bonds. We can do this by organising team building events that are inclusive, and social events that cater for those working from home and in Record Centres.
5. Take an Interest in People’s Lives
Remember, work isn’t the only thing in people’s lives. People will have families, hobbies, and friends outside of work, too. Taking time to get to know your team and colleagues is the best approach, so you can recognise when someone is feeling disconnected or isolated. Even if you haven’t spotted any signs of loneliness, taking a few extra minutes to ask someone about their day can help build connections.
Try leading the way by demonstrating that you’re not afraid to talk openly and honestly about yourself and your own feelings. Fostering a culture of trust and empathy in this way will likely make people feel safer and more secure, which can give them the confidence to open up about their vulnerabilities.
6. Remember the Little Things
The smallest of gestures can make a huge difference. Making someone a coffee or remembering to say “hello” in the morning will show people that you care, and that their wellbeing matters to you.
7. Tackle Exhaustion
The more exhausted we are, the lonelier we can feel, and often people can feel exhausted because of work. Make sure you and your team members are avoiding exhaustion by working sensible hours and taking proper breaks.
Agree clear boundaries that protect work-life balance and be sure to follow your own advice!
8. Remember Virtual Colleagues
Remote Team Members are particularly susceptible to loneliness so reach out to them regularly. Emails and messages may be efficient but picking up the phone for a chat is more personal and can make remote members feel included and valued. Saving a few minutes at the end of video calls or meetings to catch up gives you an opportunity to ask colleagues how they’re doing.
Remember: We are all different and have different preferences! If we talk to each other about our preferences, without judgement or force, we can learn how to support each other.
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