Social Isolation. It ain’t over. Yet.

by | Aug 3, 2022 | Compassionate Leadership, Organizational Resilience, Science of Leadership, Seniors Care

Yup. The grim headlines just keep coming. Yeesh.

And yes, we’re supposed to stay engaged and productive at work.


That kinda feels like a big ask in light of the “end of my rope” ongoing exhaustion, injustices, and cognitive overload of the past 2+ years.

  • Leaders and teams I support tell me they feel cranky, overwhelmed, and often disappointed that no one has time to connect on the job.
  • Staff say they don’t feel they can approach leaders with their concerns.
  • And a rampant “us versus them” mindset (new vs. old staff, one department vs. another, etc.) pushes new staff to leave, setting up a vicious cycle.



Can you feel it?

So if you’re feeling isolated and unsupported . . .

Thing One: That’s not good. Our brains are wired to form social connections and empathise with others. No wonder social isolation has been linked to the onset of depression and anxiety, and even a decline in cognitive faculties.

Thing Two: You’re not alone in you’re alone-ness. Many others feel the Exact. Same. Way.

I know. Funny, right?

Take that in for a moment.

You are not alone in your suffering.

There’s nothing wrong with you for struggling right now, or anytime really. Discomfort, challenges, difficulties . . . uh, you probly already figured this out . . . it’s part of the human experience.

Yet the #1 favourite insight Academy for Compassionate Leadership members share (especially since 2020) is realizing that others struggle and face challenges, too, despite differences in roles, departments, or placement in the hierarchy. As one recent Academy member said it’s very humbling.

And don’t under-estimate the impact of this warm fuzzy. We want connection that feels meaningful.

Here’s the big news.

Work can provide that.



What if?

Stay with me here. Just consider . . . What would be possible if your team felt this shared humanity and lack of judgement?

For you “show me the money” folks . . . What difference would that make on engagement, productivity, retention and service?

Yup. It adds up to more trust, more collaboration, more fun even.


So, how can you do this?

Did I hear someone suggest starting with all the things that contribute to Psychological Safety? You bet.

And here’s three more ideas.


Idea #1 – Help folks really see each other.

Try a modified version of this lovely activity that fits with science we cite in the Search Inside Yourself program.

The more we see other people are “just like me” (with the same fundamental humanity), the more able we are to better understand them and appreciate our differences.


Idea #2 – Prioritize Positive Connections.

Take 2 minutes to chat at the start of daily huddles and/or monthly team meetings so coming together isn’t only about problems.

A few conversation starters:

  • Share three things you’re grateful for.
  • What brought you to work in our organization?
  • What’s going well in your life?
  • Share three things you appreciate about working here.


Idea #3 – You’re human, too. Let it show.

As a leader, start with situational humility.

You know, those moments where your crystal ball is a little foggy and you don’t have all the answers.

Bonus points if you can acknowledge your own struggles where you’re a little down, stressed, or whatever the not-so-pretty-feeling-du-jour.

It’s not about laying it on your team to fix – more about disclosing the going’s on in your inner world and recognising your own limits with compassion and courage.


A Matter of Importance.

Again, you’re not alone! Lots of leaders are focused on building emotional connection at work.

Belonging, along with well-being, tops Deloitte’s 2022 Global Human Capital Trends.

Seventy-nine percent of survey respondents said that fostering a sense of belonging in the workforce would be important to their organization’s success in the next 12-18 months, while 93% agreed a sense of belonging drives organizational performance.

Note: that’s one of the highest rates of consensus on matters of importance seen in a decade of these reports.


Belonging is Fundamental.

Us humans. We’re kinda funny.

We sure like to focus on our differences, but underneath it all, we’re social creatures.

A strong sense of belonging is fundamental to our existence.

You and your team do important, meaningful work.

You deserve a workplace that makes you feel important.

A place where each individual is seen and appreciated.

A place where everyone feels they belong.

Yes, it’s important. Yes, it’s possible. And Yes. You can do this.




Especially for Leaders & Teams in Seniors Care.    

Consider for a moment . . . What impact would it have on your residents, living in a place where their caregivers bring their full and authentic selves?

Right? This stuff matters.

And connecting to meaning for your teams, especially your front-line staff, is a way to make that happen. You know it is.

A high point of their work that I’ve heard in every gig I’ve done with front-line staff over the past umpteen years of supporting your sector was . . . you guessed it. Working with the residents.

Help your team remember that. In your morning huddles or staff meetings, split them into pairs to talk about “What brought you to work in Seniors Care?”  . . . and welcome the increase in volume and energy as folks connect to what’s important to them and to each other.


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