3 Ways To Beat Blue Monday and Loneliness at Work

Caitlin Kirwan

Internal Comms & Engagement Expert

8 Jan 2024

Happy hospitality employees learning to beat blue monday.

With studies showing rising levels of loneliness in the workplace and ‘Blue Monday’ just around the corner, Caitlin Kirwan looks at how you can use your intranet to create a sense of community at work.

It’s January. It’s dark, it’s cold, and the next payday still feels an age away after the holidays. And with ‘Blue Monday’ – coined the most depressing day of the year – coming up on January 15, we can all be forgiven for feeling a little down. 

But even as we settle into 2024 and get back into the swing of things, studies have suggested that a significant number of employees will still feel disconnected, isolated, or lonely at work. 

A recent Gallup study found that almost a quarter of the world feels lonely. This follows findings from EY that eight in 10 employees have felt lonely at work, and further research from Mental Health UK shows that 23% of UK employees feel that workplace loneliness is negatively impacting their mental health.

As hybrid and remote working models become more common, HR and employee experience leaders need to take proactive steps to cultivate connections and create a sense of community across their workforces. Research shows that organizations prioritizing community, friendship, and belonging experience benefits such as increased employee engagement, loyalty, and satisfaction. 

And the good news is that the first steps toward cultivating a connected and engaged workforce could be just at your fingertips… 

This blog post explores some quick, high-impact, and actionable ways that your intranet can be used to create a sense of community at work.

Loneliness in the workplace is increasing

We’ll probably all experience loneliness at one time or another, but research shows that one in every five employees feels lonely at work on a typical working day. 

The stats paint a pretty depressing picture, with a growing number of employees feeling isolated from their employers and their colleagues. And a study from the University of Pennsylvania found that employees who feel lonely are more likely to be dissatisfied and burned out, leading to decreased performance and loyalty.

Despite many public health campaigns around the world focusing on loneliness and isolation in older adults, recent global results indicate that those aged 65 and over are actually the least likely to feel lonely. 

The group most likely to feel lonely were young adults between the ages of 19 and 29, which represents a significant proportion of the global workforce.  

Although not solely to blame for the increase in loneliness, the correlation with a rise in remote working cannot be ignored. More than 90% of executives surveyed by EY felt that culture and connection were lacking for their remote team members, and 70% of employees said they didn’t feel they could socialize with colleagues enough when working remotely. 

The importance of community at work

Creating a sense of community at work pays great dividends, as the Society for Human Resource Management found that close companionships between colleagues can lead to a productive, loyal, and committed workforce. 

The 2023 study concluded that organizations encouraging friendship and community may have a competitive advantage, as US employees with close friends at work were found to be happier and more satisfied –  

  • They were 76% more likely to remain with their employer 
  • 80% felt a strong sense of belonging to their organization (versus just 63% without close work friends)
  • 85% said workplace friendships positively impacted their career
  • 86% said they were satisfied with their job (versus 74% of employees without close work friends)

Being part of a community and having workplace friendships gives employees a sense of belonging, which is vital for performance, innovation, and retention. 

How to use your intranet to create a sense of community  

The use case for building community is clear … being part of something is vital for everyone. And your employee intranet is the perfect tool to start building this all-important community. 

Let’s face it. It’s 2024 – we’re already all used to interacting with ‘our people’ online. WhatsApp groups with friends and family, Facebook groups, Reddit communities. Interacting socially online is what employees are used to, so we’re missing a trick if we don’t use our intranet platforms to build these kinds of communities internally. 

Seeing colleagues interact, leadership engage, and people being recognized for jobs well done builds community and helps bridge the physical gap for remote and hybrid workers.

Let’s explore three simple ways you can use your intranet to create community.

1. Enable interaction and two-way communication 

Enabling two-way communication is the most important first step toward cultivating a sense of community online. Without it, your intranet becomes a ‘push channel’ that offers no opportunity for interaction or collaboration. 

Make sure the platform is set up to allow commenting, user-generated content, and other interactions. Using a social intranet like Workvivo encourages employee participation and content engagement by providing access to features such as polls, real-time peer recognition, and an interactive chat. 

It’s all about creating a familiar social experience that doesn’t feel a million miles away from the social media we’re using in the outside world, every day. 

Building this kind of experience is guaranteed to encourage high adoption and interaction, maximizing connection and helping employees to feel part of a community. 

2. Create engaging community spaces 

Having a section of the site for intranet groups, or community spaces, is a great way to encourage employees to connect, engage with each other, and start a conversation.  

From projects to personal interests, community spaces help employees to interact and collaborate on common interests. To get things off the ground and launch your first community spaces, think about the following categories: 

  • Departments, business units or core teams – spaces for groups of colleagues who are part of the same core team, generally sharing the same manager and high-level strategic goals. E.g. Finance Department
  • Project teams – spaces for groups of colleagues who are collaborating on a particular project or piece of work, usually part of separate teams outside of the project. E.g. Digitization Project Team 
  • Communities of practice – spaces for employees who share a common concern or passion about a particular topic, typically outside of their day-to-day work, but often with some kind of structure and goals. E.g. Sustainability Network
  • Communities of interest –  spaces for employees who have common interests or personal passions and want to connect in a light-hearted and fun way, sharing their experiences. E.g. Workvivo Recipe Suggestions 

Community spaces encourage collaboration with colleagues across locations and departments. For bonus points and super-charged engagement, enable content from the community spaces to appear in employees’ personalized activity feeds! Get in touch if you’d like some help with this. 

3. Build a comprehensive people directory 

A relatively simple but high-impact way to build community in the workplace is to introduce an inclusive people directory on your intranet. Having an all-encompassing people directory is a great way to help colleagues know who is who, regardless of location or department. 

Make sure you give employees the option to create their own profile by uploading their profile picture, adding a bio, etc!  

If you’re able to take things to the next level, build an automated organizational chart to provide employees with full transparency about the structure of the business and the makeup of each department and team. 

Workvivo provides a smartly designed people directory with full team and profile information, allowing employees to get to know each other quickly and easily.

Beating loneliness on Blue Monday and beyond

So there we have it – 3 ways to use your intranet to begin proactively building a sense of community within your organization! 

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about how Workvivo can help your organization create community and provide employees with a sense of belonging. We love to chat!


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