Your Employees Might Be Lonely - 5 Strategies to Build a Connected Workforce

May 4, 2023
Hybrid Work
Your Employees Might Be Lonely -  5 Strategies to Build a Connected Workforce

TL;DR Article Summary

Social isolation is linked to severe health issues, highlighting the need to address it in the workplace. Here are actionable strategies companies can prioritize to ensure employees are happy and healthy. 

  • Encourage Meaningful Relationships: Foster a culture of respect, teamwork, and communication. Invest in leadership training and team-building activities.
  • Create a Supportive Environment: Provide ergonomic furniture, natural light, and comfortable workspaces. Consider hot desking and collaboration areas for a hybrid work model.
  • Promote Work-Life Flow: Embrace flexible work arrangements, offer generous time off, and discourage overworking. Utilize technology to streamline tasks and empower remote work.
  • Offer Competitive Benefits: Provide health insurance, 401(k) plans, paid leave, and wellness programs like gym memberships and mental health resources.
  • Recognize Achievements: Celebrate employee contributions publicly and privately to boost morale and engagement.

There is an “epidemic of loneliness in America.” A 2023 report from the U.S. Surgeon General detailed shocking findings linking social disconnectedness to serious health problems. They found social disconnection impacts mortality rates more than obesity and lack of physical activity, and the risk of premature death is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

With severe health problems on the line, and remote work on the rise, it’s crucial to help people feel connected at work. The World Economic Forum reported that employee health and happiness are positively linked to higher productivity, reduced attrition, and better overall morale. 

Financial Impact of Employee Health & Happiness

Employee well-being is essential because it has a direct impact on the success of a business. When employees are happy, they are more engaged and motivated, which can lead to improved productivity and job satisfaction. When employees are supported in their health, they are more likely to stay with a company, leading to reduced turnover rates and lower costs associated with recruiting and training new employees.

Additionally, according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace study, lost productivity due to turnover, absenteeism, and working while sick costs employers a whopping $1 trillion annually. Unsurprisingly, investing in employee happiness and health can save businesses significant amounts of money in the long run. 

Cultivating a work environment that promotes employee well-being is more important than ever. Here are five strategies to ensure your employees stay connected and engaged.

1. Encourage Meaningful Relationships

As more Americans experience social loneliness, fostering meaningful relationships with colleagues and managers can significantly impact employee happiness and health. CHROs and people leaders can encourage meaningful work relationships through leading by example and promoting values of respect, teamwork, and communication. Investing in leadership training is a great way to equip managers with the skills they need to make a difference here. 

Additionally, companies can foster positive relationships by hosting team-building activities and social events. As hybrid work becomes the norm, companies can invest in space management software to help employees more easily transition back to the office and connect with colleagues. Lastly, embracing employee feedback no matter how uncomfortable it may be at times, can cultivate authentically better relationships.

2. Create a Supportive Office Environment

A supportive work environment can make a significant difference in employee happiness and health. Businesses should provide a safe and comfortable workspace, offer ergonomic furniture, and ensure that employees have access to natural light and fresh air.

Given the popularity and adoption rate of hybrid work, we recommend designing your office floorspace with flexibility and collaboration in mind. Consider hot desking, office hoteling, and coworking spaces that cut down overhead costs while providing quality. For a deeper dive on how to do this, check out How to Improve Your Hybrid Office in 2023.

3. Promote Work-Life ‘Flow’

Working hours are less rigid today than the traditional 9-to-5 hours of the past, and with that comes new challenges. One way to fight stress, burnout, and fatigued mental health is to encourage a work-life balance that works for the individual and allows for some level of customization.

Leveraging hybrid workspace technology is a great way to allow for work flexibility while maintaining connectedness with in-office presence. Hybrid work tech can also automate time-consuming manual work and drive collaboration that increases productivity, innovation, and employee wellbeing. Companies can also offer flexible work arrangements, provide generous time off, and discourage overworking as ways to cultivate a modern sense of balance, or better yet: work-life flow. 

4. Innovate Employee Benefits to Stay Current

Revisiting employee benefits and perks to ensure they meet today’s priorities can go a long way in boosting employee health and happiness. For example, in our post-pandemic, high inflation climate, incorporating hybrid or work-from-home opportunities and offering health insurance, 401(k) plans, and paid leave can show employees that they are valued and their well-being is invested in for long-term success.

Additionally, wellness programs such as gym memberships, nutrition counseling, and stress management workshops can help employees navigate pressure and lead healthier and happier lives. Counseling services and resources for employees who might be struggling are authentic ways of nurturing a culture of mental health awareness.

5. Recognize Effort and Celebrate Wins, No Matter How Small

Recognition and appreciation are powerful motivators for employees. Celebrating employee achievements and their efforts along the way can increase job satisfaction, engagement, and overall happiness. Therefore, business leaders should make an effort to recognize employees' contributions and accomplishments regularly, both publicly and privately, and model an appreciation for progress over perfection. Weekly shout-outs in a team or company Slack channel, quarterly awards, and personal thank yous in 1:1 meetings are easy and inexpensive ways to show gratitude and spread positivity. 

Building a More Connected and Engaged Workforce

Employee happiness and health are crucial aspects of business success. As such, social disconnect negatively impacts both the individual and the company. People leaders can help by creating a workspace that encourages building connections and relationships, combats people’s feelings of loneliness and isolation, and increases productivity and engagement. As needs evolve, people leaders must listen to what their employees want and adapt. By examining outside factors and designing a strategy that best suits your teams, you can improve employee happiness and health and build a more productive and successful organization.

For more insights on how to promote employee health and happiness in a hybrid work setting, read more on Brands to Watch: Reinventing the Return To Office. If you’re ready to start scheduling and booking desks and rooms, create your free Skedda account today. 

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