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Creating time to talk and overcome workplace loneliness

As we approach Time to Talk day on Thursday, 2nd February, it has prompted me to reflect on how much, as a tribe, we make time to talk to one another. Are we losing the art of conversation? With the digital world gathering momentum at a considerable pace, and the isolation some have experienced in recent years has resulted in many feeling loneliness in the workplace. Is it possible that, ironically, we are becoming more isolated the more technically connected we become? Time to Talk day encourages friends, families,

communities and workplaces to come together to talk about mental well-being, listen and change lives. They have created several resources to help facilitate this, CLICK HERE to download them.

As organisations move towards a more hybrid way of working, this approach could create a barrier to instigating conversations and helping those who may be finding it difficult to cope, whether that be with work life, home life or a mix of both. There are many warning signs, however, they are not always easy to spot. Overall, a change in the person is key but some core warning signs to look out for are: low levels of engagement, uncharacteristic behaviour and a decrease in productivity. These signs can be tricky to spot if you aren't connected and regularly communicating with your team. A conversation can often be the difference between identifying warning signs and missing them, to the detriment of the individual and team.

Below we share some tips to help you to connect with your teams:

1. Start meetings on a human level first with a quick, friendly check-in.

2. Have regular 1:1 and team well-being check-ins that are not about work.

3. Encourage regular team meet-ups outside of work, ideas include a lunchtime walk or an

online coffee break.

4. Organise inclusive online or in-person social events.

5. Encourage line managers to lead by example and join in with well-being events.

6. Host a fun cross-department speed-talking event – you never know whom you might meet!

Workplace Loneliness

Loneliness affects millions of people in the UK; whilst it is perfectly normal to experience it from time to time, it can lead to poor mental health or even mental illness. Workplace loneliness is becoming an ever-increasing concern. Whilst some individuals relish the idea of being able to work from home, and it suits them to support family life, others may find it a difficult challenge.

One of the most common questions I get asked in my mental health training sessions is: “How do I begin the conversation?” My answer is that it is far more supportive to be genuine, empathetic and non-judgmental than worrying about what the right or wrong thing is to say. Try not to worry too much about this, as having that conversation might save a life and it is too important not to have.

Here are five things to consider when starting a potentially difficult conversation:

1. Create the right environment. Be mindful of the individual and identify a location that will help them to relax and open up.

2. Ask twice. Asking someone twice if they are OK lets them know that you are genuinely interested in them and offers a safe space to talk.

3. Listen, but don’t try to fix the problem.

4. Be genuine and empathise with the individual.

5. Get involved. We should be open to having conversations about mental well-being, not just on Time to Talk day but every day.

We have a couple of resources we would like to share, which will offer some advice on how to start

the conversation. Click to read our article “The Mental Health Conversation – Where to Begin” and “Taking the time to Talk” In which we share approaches to help you to start the conversation.

In Summary

We have created a resource to help your teams confidently start the conversation. To receive your complimentary copy or to understand how we can support your well-being strategy or address workplace loneliness, please get in touch.


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