One of the emerging workplace trends is employee loneliness, or the absence of meaningful relationships at work. In a 2018 Culture Report, the O.C. Tanner Institute found that 46% of adults report feeling lonely at work with 43% report feeling that their relationships are not meaningful.
While the statistics leave us wondering how best the trend can be reversed, there are constructive mindsets we can adopt to help. Leadership author Jason Lauritsen shared constructive ideas at the Welcoa Summit in San Diego last month about developing healthy relationships.
Key to understanding how to foster healthy relationships is the underlying knowledge that connection and belonging is one of the biggest drivers for humans. We want to feel valued, trusted, cared for, appreciated – this is how we feel love. Lauritsen observes that healthy relationships have these six elements.
1. Appreciation. We do well to consciously design and manufacture more positive moments in our interactions with others. Acknowledging another person’s effort and appreciating the progress being made will go a long way in strengthening relationships.
2. Acceptance. Make relationship building core to every interaction we have. The more that we can lend support and judge less, the better off the relationship will be. So often we ignore or forget that judgement hurts relationships. We’d do well to be careful about making assumptions of others…they often will live up to them.
3. Communication. It is hard wired in our brains to assume the worst and respond with a fight or flight mentality. Uncertainty kills engagement as well as relationships. We can reduce uncertainty and create clarity by talking with people, not at them. Figure out ways to create more conversations and dialogue to improve communication.
4. Support. Things will always go better when we hold another in positive regard and assume their positive intent. Make it easy to forgive and move on when things go wrong so that help can more easily be offered and accepted.
5. Commitment. Equally invest in each other with reciprocity. Having a shared accountability will help with a repair when things go wrong. Apologize so that resentment doesn’t fester and treat people like responsible adults.
6. Time. A young girl was asked, “how do you know if someone loves you?” Her reply was simple and telling, “they make time for me.”
Think of the impact if we were to adopt and teach these skills to those in our workplace teams. How might the culture and environment change in positive ways? There certainly would be an uptick in having more meaningful relationships at work and at home.