Help employees handle loneliness and isolation
As the pandemic drags on, lots of people are struggling with isolation. But there are things managers can do.
As we’re in month seven of the pandemic, social distancing has taken its toll, and more people report feeling lonely. Loneliness is a health risk that impacts your well-being and work.
A study from the mobile coaching platform BetterUp found that lonely workers were less satisfied with their jobs, received fewer promotions, switched jobs more frequently, and were more likely to quit their current job within the next six months. Forty percent of the people in the study reported feeling lonely.
It’s important for managers to have a sense of each person’s home life, says Rosen Kellerman. “If they have team members who are living alone or don’t have family nearby, they are at higher risk,” she says. “Keeping closer tabs on them is important.”
The signs of loneliness are often subtle and include social withdrawal, lower levels of energy and optimism that are normal, and a decrease in productivity or work quality. If you sense an employee or coworker could be suffering from loneliness, there are things you can do:
- Managers should create opportunities for meaning
- Managers can help by connecting employees to a shared sense of purpose around work. Employees need to feel connected to the meaning of the work they are doing.
- Leaders should also connect employees to the project outcomes
- Use collective wins and celebrate the entire team. When you have success, call out as many individuals by name as possible. Recognition creates a sense of mattering, which is a close cousin to meaning.
- Find times to check in
- Find time to connect as human beings. Get on the phone and have a conversation to catch up on life. It should have nothing to do with work. Share your own journey in the midst of this. When employees hear a leader opening up, it helps them to be more comfortable with their own feelings.
- Foster colleague connections
- Create a channel/place where employees who share an interest or concern can connect.
- Offer mental health assistance
- Make sure your benefits package includes access to mental health professionals for counseling by telephone. Make sure employees know they have this option.
- Many companies won’t return to the workplace until 2021, and loneliness may continue to rise. Make sure you have your antenna up. Employee well-being is another responsibility for leaders. Give it the right amount of attention.