A Fortune magazine headline decries “Chronic Loneliness is a Modern-Day Epidemic” while a recent survey of 20,000 people by health insurer Cigna found that over 50% of the respondents felt that “no one actually knows them well.” Earlier this year, Britain actually appointed the first ever “Minister of Loneliness” to “combat the sad reality of modern life.”
Ironically, in this age when social media has increased the number and frequency of social connections, many feel decidedly less connected.
Intentionally creating community on our work teams can not only help accomplish the organization’s goals, it can also give people a place to find real connection. Here are 4 ways that a strong sense of community can combat loneliness in the workplace.
1. Time together
Typically, in any given week, 25% or more of someone’s time will be spent at work. Whether you’re a leader or a member of a team, it’s important that we strive to make that 25% enjoyable for those we work with.
We should ask ourselves on a regular basis how we can create an environment that makes our team members and co-workers look forward to their time at their jobs. We may never know what awaits others after work; take the opportunity to create an inviting, welcoming workplace where loneliness is left at the door.
2. Authentic relationships
According to the Fortune magazine article mentioned above, many feel as though “no one actually knows them well.” Relationships are integral to a work team; why not strive to make them authentic and healthy?
In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, author and professor Brene’ Brown defines authenticity as “a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
3. No need to hide
While authenticity is about letting true self be seen, vulnerability is about how much of true self we are willing to share with others. When time together and authentic relationships are combined, trust among team members begins to be built.
As trust grows, people begin to be more vulnerable—feeling there is no need to hide their true selves. Vulnerability will not happen without a strong sense of trust.
4. Joys and sorrows
We all have things to both celebrate and mourn. Having no one with whom to share joy or sorrow is one of the most devastating aspects of loneliness. As people become more vulnerable, the freedom and inclination to share joys and sorrows will grow.
These times provide an opportunity for a team to join together and create an environment where people feel included and cared for.
While the primary role for our work teams is to achieve our organizational purpose, another should be to encourage and serve the people around us. With so many people battling loneliness, there is a unique opportunity to leverage our everyday interactions for something more than ordinary.
People are at their best when they are whole and healthy.
Intentionally building community on our teams can be a remedy to combat the epidemic of loneliness. What can you do to help your team take that opportunity?