The role and importance of the workplace as a source of connection
POINT3s of View by co-founder Nicky Morgan
If ever there was a time to dial up our connections with our friends, families, colleagues, local communities and wider species – it feels very much like now.
As the world continues to be hit with crisis and confusion, the hope that I hold on to is our innate ability as human beings to want to – and need to – positively connect with each other. It is after all, ultimately how we’ve got to the top of the food chain – by working together, innovating and being a supportive team.
And yet our world, the society we live in and our way of life is threatening to disband this very core need in us to connect, as we are seemingly growing more disconnected than ever before.
I ache even writing the statistic: A survey in 2016 revealed that 9 million people in the UK, (of all adult ages), say they are often or always lonely*.
That’s 9 million people – the population of London – who are out there in the world feeling lonely. And this was before the global pandemic drove an even greater wedge between people.
This number, and this knowledge, hits me hard because I have known this feeling. I understand what it feels like to be living a seemingly full and vibrant life – and yet lack a deep inner sense of belonging. It’s potent and painful – and it can lead onward to poor mental and/or physical health.
Lets out a deep sigh.
Whilst all of this is hard to confront, it’s a subject that’s so important to give airtime, particularly with all that is going on in our world right now.
Re-reading the above statistic, note the nuance “of all adult ages”. It’s easier to grasp how the elderly and socially isolated might be feeling lonely and disconnected – but the crisis is far greater than that. There will be people all around us in the workplace feeling that same sense of loneliness too.
The antidote to loneliness is connection – because loneliness really struggles to survive when meaningful human connection/s exist. And this is where the workplace can play a pivotal role – (and certainly did in my experience!).
How the workplace can help
For some, at some points, the workplace may be the only place they feel a true sense of belonging – part of something – connected to a greater purpose. The workplace therefore can provide a crucial environment to nurture connections, belonging and meaning for individuals – and as a collective.
This is why I’m so passionate about our “Connecting Teams” training. I shouldn’t have favourites… but I think this might be it! We explore the concept of loneliness – but also the opportunity that organisations have in creating connection, purpose and belonging between individuals and teams. In turn, connected teams are proven to lead to greater productivity, performance and profit = win:win:win.
Right now connections both big and small feel so important to consciously nurture. Whether that’s a smile to a stranger you walk past on the street, a message to let someone know you’re thinking of them, that 3 minute conversation with a colleague before the meeting starts or the big “town hall” team meeting to bring everyone together.
You just never know what that small moment of connection and kindness might mean to the person receiving it.
*Co-op + British Red Cross, 2016
Campaigns to promote awareness and support people experiencing loneliness:
Loneliness is the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (9 – 13 May) and Loneliness Awareness Week, (13 – 17 June), is an annual campaign which raises awareness of loneliness and gets people talking about it.
If you’re looking for resources to support you and your people in the areas of loneliness and mental health, then we would be happy to help. Do get in touch with us to discuss how.
Resources to help you + your business:
- POINT3 Wellbeing tackle the subject of loneliness – and its antidote connection – in our “Connecting Teams” mindset training module which is suitable for smaller teams or company-wide conversations around the subject of psychological safety, connection, belonging and high performance.
- When people feel lonely or disconnected, the way they think, feel and behave is impacted, leading to a higher risk of minimum mental wellbeing. Our mental health training is a valuable source of training to encourage conversations around mental health and help people to connect with themselves and their colleagues.
- In 2020 the UK launched the Connection Coalition as a response to the loneliness crisis: https://www.connectioncoalition.org.uk/.
- There is a Connection Coalition’s Loneliness Advice chatbot service available on WhatsApp: Message 07902 922 908 to access information and resources from organisations including the Marmalade Trust, Jo Cox Foundation, Age UK, The Mix, The British Red Cross and the #LetsTalkLoneliness campaign.