Silent bonds helping employees in the workplace

Can recognising a ‘silent bond’ or network between co-workers and colleagues help bring people together and improve workplace satisfaction? Francis Davis, Professor of Communities and Public Policy at Birmingham University, suggests that it does and that the commonality or ‘group’ could be an LGBT community,  an ethnic minority, a disability, caring responsibilities, being a new parent, or indeed a mental health issue, all of whom may result in feelings of isolation in the workplace.

Speaking about his own personal experience, Professor Davis talked about the ‘silent bond of solidarity’, or a life-changing event that only a few people may understand.  He suggested that a shared understanding could mean a connection with someone else for support, advice, or even eventually career development. If you are going through a mental health issue, for instance, or a crisis or event in your life that you are uncomfortable talking about, but know someone with similar experience who may be sympathetic, could you talk to them and might it help?

Professor Davis relates this to an event in his life and says the initial experience he went through could have had a completely different outcome with a more ? understanding line manager.  Finding his ‘personal connection’ with a colleague meant a lifetime bond of solidarity, remarking,

“I will go out of my way to help that person, who helped me, and I’d do it again and again and again”.

A positive attitude to mental health in the workplace, and overcoming the stigma attached to something an individual has been through, builds resilience, Professor Davis agreed, but that ‘something’ could touch any or every family or individual at any time with little warning, and having a network of support is crucial.

At Mental Health at Work, our expert trainers help workplaces understand the need for conversations, exploring the right way to ask questions, the language to use when times might be difficult in someone’s work or home life and most importantly, how to listen. We are here to help and advise organisations on how to get this right, so please get in touch if you think this could be helpful within your working environment.


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