The power of human connection is greatly underrated. For many who are feeling stressed or have general anxiety or depression, it’s natural they may want to isolate or distance themselves from friends, family and coworkers. However, combating isolation and loneliness may be the way to improve mental health and well-being.
Dr. Vivek Murthy, the 19th Surgeon General of the United States, reminds us that we are social creatures, and the way to more happy and healthy employees is through human connection.1 One of the best ways to combat isolation and loneliness is by fostering connections among your employees. This is more difficult during the pandemic, with people isolating for safety reasons, but there are ways you can create connections in both virtual and in-person environments.
Mindful Mondays. Create a culture where each Monday includes fewer meetings and encourages a calm tone for the day. Have employees dedicate a specific time to practice mindfulness where they can focus on their breathing. Meditation has many benefits, including reducing anxiety and depression.2
Set goals in groups. Schedule a meeting for your team to set goals, both professional and personal, including financial, mental or physical. Consider having a guest speaker, like a life coach or motivational expert, attend or host the meeting. Partner employees up in smaller groups to help them keep each other accountable. It’s important to have someone to reach out to who understands what they are trying to achieve and discuss roadblocks they may be running up against.
Get the competition going. Create a space where people can step away and play games. You can host these in person or virtually. Consider creating a monthly game happy hour. There are a lot of online options to play bingo, trivia, Scattergories or charades. Celebrate the winners with small trophies or gift cards.
Celebrate events. Bring your team together at least once a month. Celebrate all the team wins, both personal and professional, including birthdays, shoutouts from customers or other team members, work anniversaries or other milestones. Even the smallest reason to celebrate will make someone feel special.
Host a field day. Take it back to elementary school and host a field day. Split your group up into smaller groups and have them compete in a variety of team-building activities like egg races, hula hoop contests, dunking booths and tug-o-war.3
Bring your pet to work. Consider creating a more pet-friendly work environment, maybe just 1 day of the month. Pet people love other pet people, and they love to show off their “fur babies.” By being able to share their love of pets, coworkers may find commonalities they didn’t know they had. Invite coworkers to have their pets drop in on virtual meetings, when appropriate.
Start a walking group. Group exercise classes can be difficult to start and to maintain. Plus, some employees simply don’t want to do rigorous exercise at work. Walking is low intensity and minimizes the need for changing clothes or having to spend a lot of time preparing for or recovering from a tough, sweaty workout. Set a time each day that employees can block off on their calendars to go for a walk. Encourage employees to book their meetings around that dedicated time so they don’t miss the activity.
Discuss Employee Assistance Program (EAP) resources. Share information with your leaders and teams about the EAP offered among your employee offerings. Many EAPs offer seminars, including topics like mental health and mental wellness.
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1Alan Kohll, “15 fun stress-reducer games and activities for remote employees,” Forbes, last accessed September 13, 2021, https://www.forbes.com/sites/alankohll/2020/09/23/15-fun-stress-reducer-games-and-activities-for-remote-employees/?sh=2e8ebfe1c347Opens in new window.
2“15 fun stress-reducer games and activities for remote employees.”
3Seraine Page, “21 Mental Health Awareness Month Activities for the Workplace,” Total Wellness, last accessed September 13, 2021, https://info.totalwellnesshealth.com/blog/mental-health-awareness-month-activities-Opens in new window.