Office Loneliness

Overcoming Employee Loneliness in Offices

The social networking platform Instagram have been testing a world without virtual approval lately, by experimenting with the removal of like counts from social posts. This has come in response to the slew of evidence strongly linking mental health decline to social platforms. It’s an attempt to do away with online comparison, whilst improving the user experience as a whole.

According to new research carried out by YouGov, it seems as if Instagram are doing the right thing for those branded as the loneliest generation. According to recent findings carried out by the global data company, “a quarter of millennials say they have no acquaintances”. Furthermore, “22 percent say they have no close friends” and “30 percent have no best friends.”

Through continual online connectivity, users are always available to chat in the cyber world. Yet, through constant engagement, millennials are accustomed to a world devoid of face-to-face interchanges. It’s taking its toll on their soft skills.

Interactions persistently taking place using technology is reshaping the typical day-to-day human experience. Instead of group activities or meeting up for coffee, millennials are retreating to solitary spaces to plug into technology.

This is influencing a surge in mental health issues amongst young adults as millennials fail to recognise their once outgoing, sociable selves. As a result, young adults are increasingly detached from society, avoid real life interchanges, and wallow in their lack of self-confidence.

Urban spaces are also playing a part, deemed as “packed full of life” yet, a modern city block “can be one of the loneliest places on earth”. As millennials move to vibrant cities to study or to pursue a new work opportunity, they’re placed in one-bedroom units. They reside in silent corridors which lack communal spaces and are abhorrently quiet. Most WhatsApp feeds have seen more activity than the streets which a lot of these urban tower blocks reside on, and that is a problem.

As a society we could be doing more, particularly in modern work environments. As mental health figures plague offices currently, its a question of what can leaders do to encourage friendships, acquaintanceships or even small talk during work hours?

Not only are real-life relationships essential in bettering the wellbeing of employees, but also in elevating work performance. They therefore contribute to the overall success of businesses.

More stats taken from the YouGov study revealed over a quarter (27%) said they “didn’t need friends”. More is needed from leaders, other than the occasional monthly meet-up, to defuse such defensive anti-social mindsets.

Fun at lunch: yoga, board games, book clubs

Lunch times don’t have to occur at workers’ desks. Leaders could instead suggest that employees organise fun lunch time sessions, and furnish them with the resources needed to do so. These could consist of book clubs, yoga classes or board game lunch times. It would encourage colleagues to come together and refocus their energies collectively in positive, sociable sessions.

Bonus ball syndicates

Work-based syndicates are great ways of including everyone in the office with a little bit of light-hearted fun. One person could be given responsibility for collecting the payments, recording bonus ball numbers, and dispensing winnings.

Each week the winning number is revealed, and one lucky employee is awarded the collective pot. It’s a simple set-up and doesn’t take up much ‘work time’, yet colleagues are made to feel part of something.

Routine end of week drinks

Regular social activities — such as end-of-week drinks — can help friendships to blossom. Leaders can arrange opportunities for staff to get to know one another better outside of work, and in turn see the benefit of better team work.

The more introverted members of staff are more likely to attend events that are regarded as routine, and not considered a ‘big deal’. Once-a-year celebrations could be daunting for some.

Charity events

A charity partner linked to your company can be great for all involved. You’re making a difference, and raising brand awareness for your business and for the charity.

It’s also a way for staff to get together and partake in events that will raise funds for a great cause. Fun runs or in-office fancy dress days help to grow a sense of camaraderie between staff, who are coming together to make a positive difference. It’s a real mood-booster that brings people closer, forming relationships in the process.

Team building cooking sessions

Because if they’re good enough for Google Headquarters to implement, then they’re something that your business should consider delivering. If you have the facilities to cater for a team of colleagues, put them to good use for team building.

It doesn’t have to be a cooking activity, it could be another team building session such as pottery making. You can encourage staff to join in competitive group challenges such as ‘cook offs’, where the best dish wins and is served up for everyone to sample. Just ensure that as leader, you keep a handle on your inner Gordon Ramsey.

 

What’s your opinion on social interaction within offices? How important do you think fun, team activities are within work environments for employees? Comment below with your say.

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