Loneliness Awareness Week: How to support your colleagues who are isolating on their own

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Written by Pablo Vandenabeele on 22 June 2020 in Features

Pablo Vandenabeele shares his tips on how to support your colleagues who are isolating on their own.

Our new ‘normal’ way of working consists of many of us adapting to working from home. This change to how – and where - we work could cause increased stress, exhaustion or loneliness. Covid-19 has meant some of us are isolating on our own, and it can get lonely.

If you know a colleague or employee who is living on their own during this time, there are ways to help. Your team can be a great support network; in the recent Wellbeing Census, 50% of those surveyed agreed that their colleagues have a positive impact on their wellbeing at work.

So, how can we continue to support our team, when we’re all working remotely?

Make your health a priority

Staying healthy will help you focus on your business and look after your employees. Your team will look to you for reassurance and guidance, so it’s important that you lead by example.

Many of us are now working more flexible hours, so be mindful of your team’s individual working patterns.

Think about what you need to do to stay well, and make sure you take time for these activities: this could be time with the kids, exercise, gardening or meditation. Place a ‘wellbeing break’ in your calendar each day and encourage your team to do the same.

Open up

Let your team know how you are feeling, as this may encourage them to talk about their own needs and concerns. Let staff know they can also come to you whenever they need to discuss a concern.

In the Wellbeing Census, 71% of respondents agreed that having an approachable manager helped them feel comfortable enough to raise a wellbeing issue. So, try to give your team the time they need to talk.

Stay virtually connected

Working from home can be isolating and lonely, especially for those living alone. Keeping in touch with colleagues regularly can have a positive impact on their overall wellbeing: from daily check-ins to Friday quizzes, keeping connected is more important than ever.

Be mindful of your team’s individual needs

Be sensitive always - you may not know the full details of employees’ personal lives. It’s a difficult and testing time for us all, and some may be struggling more than others. Many of us are now working more flexible hours, so be mindful of your team’s individual working patterns. Always be sensitive to their situation and show kindness.

Ensure support is readily available

It’s a testing time for us all, so remind all of your colleagues what’s available to support their health and wellbeing. If you have services like occupational health or EAP (employee assistance programme) for your staff, share these around and how to get in touch with these services. If these aren’t available, why not create your own wellness action plan to support your team?

Protect the vulnerable

If you’ve had to furlough staff during lockdown, or if any of your team are classed as vulnerable or extremely vulnerable, think about ways you can support them. Even small adjustments like a change to their working hours, or checking in with them regularly, can help.

Remember – no two are the same

Your team are individuals with different needs. One size doesn’t fit all, and now more than ever you need to take a tailored approach to looking after your employees’ wellbeing.


About the author

Pablo Vandenabeele is clinical director for Mental Health at Bupa UK



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