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May 10, 2022 David Malmborg

Creating Community at Work

Session #3 of the Mental Health Awareness Month Live Stream Series: Key Conversations on Mental Health

Community is a key pillar of mental health, yet today’s remote workplace often falls short when it comes to meeting this need.

60% of employees are lonely. Here’s how to help them reconnect.

You can watch the entire conversation on building community at work with Megan Galloway, Head of Growth at Campfire, and Joseph Draschill, CXO at Nivati here.

The Challenge of Loneliness

The book Healing by Thomas Insel (the former head of the National Institute of Mental Health) includes an incredible insight into the challenge of loneliness.

In essence, he says that loneliness is not only a cause but also an effect of mental illness.

Loneliness can compound and cause mental health challenges.

The need for community is universal, for introverts and extroverts alike.

Virtual workplaces have an opportunity—even a responsibility—to help their people connect to communities. It’s essential for the wellbeing of people and the health of the company as a whole.

Being a Manager Can Be Lonely

Not only are individual contributors lonely in their remote offices. Managers are, too.

Managers battle loneliness due to:

  • Working long hours and having little time for socialization outside of work
  • Being a listening ear for direct reports that are struggling, but not having someone at work to talk to themselves
  • Having fewer peers at their level than other workers may have, or people that relate to your role and responsibilities
  • Lack of preparation or training for their role

Joseph touches on how even the most honorable forms of leadership, like servant leadership, can lead to loneliness.

“Servant leadership is taxing emotionally and mentally. I have to be a better person in order to be a better manager and a better leader.”

It’s difficult to find the balance between supporting your people and supporting yourself.

How to Find Community Outside of Work When You Work Remotely

Here are some ways to find community outside of your workplace:

  • Find professional communities in your area or online (if you’re an HR professional, check out our HR Support Group and Brain Trust for an online group)
  • Volunteer in your area
  • Find a book club, art studio, etc. to get plugged into
  • Get connected to a religious or spiritual organization near you
  • Go to a coffee shop to work for a couple of hours
  • Set aside time on your calendar to meet up with family or friends

To Joseph community is “meeting like-minded and like-hearted people,” and that  “community is self-care”.

Just like any other form of self-care, make a plan and set a time on your schedule to get connected to communities.

How Employers Can Create Communities for Employees

Companies must be intentional about building a community at work.

Building psychological safety, trust, and morale—plus showing employees that they are making a meaningful impact—are all contributing factors. Community helps people feel safe and get support.

Some employees find it harder to get connected to a community outside of work. Your workplace can make it easier for them to connect to others.

Megan reflects on how managers can help employees get connected. “Part of that responsibility is on a manager. If they see their team members are really struggling with something, they can help coach them and connect them to something that they know is of interest with them because they have a relationship with them. They can tell something is off, they know ways to recommend them to get more engaged in a professional sense with the community… so that they can take care of the employee in a more holistic way.”

Here are some ideas on ways to build community at work:

  • Slack channels where employees share personal experiences (a “watercooler,” of sorts)
  • Eat lunch together over Zoom or work together in the same Zoom room
  • Hold in-person retreats
  • Meet up in person with coworkers that live near you

Creating opportunities for employees to learn, share, and be vulnerable with each other will help create deeper connections.

If you’d like to learn more about building community at work, you can watch the entire live stream conversation here. Stay in the loop on our other Linkedin Live events by following us on Linkedin.

MENTAL HEALTH FOR THE WHOLE EMPLOYEE