In a recent study by Mental Health America, 65% of respondents reported feeling isolated in their workplace due to an unhelpful and hostile environment.
By Richard Stevenson
Isolation in the workplace causes people to feel lonely, discluded and ignored. Although the issue of isolation in the workplace isn’t often seen as a serious one, feeling isolated at work can be worse for an employee’s mental and physical well being than harassment or bullying.
Sales software company Pipedrive have partnered with Mental Health America for Mental Health Month, to help break down the stigma of mental health in the workplace. Preventing isolation at work is just one way to create a mentally healthy work environment and manage workplace stress in a high-pressure environment.
Set up a mentor or buddy scheme
It can be hard for new starters to integrate into a new team, especially if it is a close-knit group. Try to avoid cliques or exclusive friendships from forming by setting up a buddy scheme, where each new employee is paired with someone who has worked at the company for several years. Their buddy can show them around and introduce them to people, and ensure that the new starter has a friendly face to chat to in their first weeks at the office.
Schedule regular social events
Socialising with colleagues helps to break down barriers and lets people relax and be themselves outside the office. Whether you set a date for a monthly long lunch, drinks after work, or even team building away days, your team will get to know one another better, forge friendships, and are less likely to feel isolated at work. People who have friendships at work tend to feel more supported and encouraged, and manage workplace stress better.
Learn to spot the signs of mental health conditions
Learning to identify the signs of a possible mental health condition means you can address the issue before it escalates into a more serious problem. Some common signs of mental health issues include:
- Becoming withdrawn and less sociable
- Irritability, tearfulness or other unexplained mood swings
- A sudden drop in productivity
- Increased sickness absence
- Lack of care over appearance
- Avoiding social situations
If a team member begins to isolate themselves from the rest of the group, this could be a sign that their mental health is suffering.
Foster an open and understanding work culture
Your office culture is sure to affect how comfortable your team feel discussing sensitive issues with you. If they experience hostility, lack of communication or blame culture in their day to day roles, they will likely think that you’re unapproachable if they wanted to discuss any concerns. Instead try to develop and open, understanding work culture, where your team feel comfortable coming to you to talk.
Practice emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to interpret and understand the emotions of others, and to respond in an appropriate manner. It’s easy to see why this skill is valuable when dealing with someone whose mental health might be struggling, as every person will handle their mental health differently.
You shouldn’t settle for your existing baseline in this area. Managers can and should plan to train and improve their soft skills. Being able to read the emotions of your team members and offer the right support can be hugely beneficial, helping them to manage their condition better.
Richard is Head of Global Communications at Pipedrive. Having worked across the web hosting, domain name, Software-as-a-Service and ecommerce industries for 15+ years, he’s been hugely fortunate to spend the most time writing and speaking for SMBs and web pros worldwide to drive awareness and adoption of new web technologies.