Simple Steps to Help Prevent Loneliness in the Hybrid Workplace
At Sklar Wilton & Associates, we take steps to tackle loneliness, which can be a serious drain on employees’ mental health. If you think that loneliness is not a factor for your company, you may want to think again. Reports tell us that more than 1 in 10 people in Canada are always or often lonely, loneliness is likely to increase during the holiday season, and close to half of Canadians who are lonely report fair or poor mental health.
With the holidays just around the corner, it should be top of mind for everyone. We do not have the perfect solution to eradicate loneliness entirely, but we do have some tried and tested approaches that have been working for us. Still, we must preface these steps by mentioning that severe symptoms of loneliness and poor mental health should be handled by a mental health professional.
So with that being said, here are the top 5 steps we have taken to prevent loneliness during hybrid & remote work for you to consider:
- Facilitate Connection with Monthly Bevys: We get together as a full team once a month to connect, catch up, and learn together. All employees are encouraged to attend unless they’re under the weather, but we found that the majority show a keen interest in seeing each other at least once a month. In fact, many teams have opted to meet an additional time per month to get more of this connection. This cadence seems to appeal to both introverts and extroverts among us for breaking long spells of solo work time.
- Celebrate Each Other with Off-Sites: Every summer, we take the team on a 3-day off-site to recognize the achievements of the team, uplift each other through awards, and strengthen bonds with non-work-related activities. The success of these off-sites has inspired us to add a second one in the winter. Employees often leave the off-site feeling more connected to one another and noted making connections with peers they previously hadn’t got the chance to spend much time with before.
- Prioritize Consistent Communication with Walk & Talks: Our walk and talks are designed for employees to have a work-free moment of 1-on-1 conversation with a peer. Pairs are assigned each month and they can connect however they feel comfortable which usually ends up being a phone call or in-person meeting. Ideally, each employee can get outside, enjoy nature, and partake in a simple conversation aimed to get to know one another better. We’ve found that the work-free conversations break down barriers of introverted employees not wanting to speak up open the chance for deeper connections.
- Open the Dialogue with Manager 1 on 1’s: We hold frequent manager 1-on1 meetings for employees to be candid, vulnerable, and honest. We make sure to provide a safe space for those who want to get something off their chest because conversations like these will enable deeper connections and trust amongst the company. It also serves as another consistent point of communication for those who may be feeling isolated.
- Break the Ice with Holiday Parties: The easiest way to connect with someone is when you’re having fun. This is why we aim to design our parties around mutual interests and entertainment. This year, the team went to the Art Gallery of Ontario to mingle and discuss art followed by karaoke which certainly breaks the ice of professionalism and allowed for some authentic connections to be made. We’re cognisant that not all employees have partners they can bring so our policy of not bringing significant others or plus 1’s provides an environment free from exclusion and judgment.
Hopefully these steps can help inspire you and your company to proactively reduce loneliness within your company, especially when you’re dealing with hybrid work. Of course, we’re still learning too. As we make mistakes, learn, and improve, we’ll be sure to share our takeaways so that we can grow together.
From our team to yours, we wish you a happy holidays.
Designed to inspire action, our Headway movement helps business leaders prioritize mental wellbeing in the workplace by connecting them with actionable resources from established experts in the Canadian mental health industry. Our Headway team can help with resources, tools and an action plan tailored to your unique needs.
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