CIPD Ireland Wellbeing Seminar 24/11/22
Notes from; UnPlug keynote - Meaningful Connection in a Hyperconnected World

Firstly, a big thank you to the CIPD crew behind the scenes; Meg, Lindy, Jacinta and Mary.  Thank you to Gavin for the tech setup at the Aviva, and thanks to you the audience .


Keynote notes;


Lonely playlist


The Why


Impact – Individual

Harvard Grant Study – Social Connection is the #1 predictor of life satisfaction


Loneliness makes you 26% more likely to die;

Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Baker M, Harris T, Stephenson D. Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: a meta-analytic review. Perspect Psychol Sci. 2015 Mar;10(2):227-37. doi: 10.1177/1745691614568352. PMID: 25910392.


References to multiple studies showing link to improving recovery from Cancer


Impact – Work

Article with links to studies showing improvement in wellbeing, performance and retention


Microsoft Work Index showing positive impact of strong work relationships

The way we work


Screens vs in-person

First review of the largest current longitudinal study on workplace loneliness with the following quote;

“Neuroscience research has found that only in-person interactions trigger the full suite of physiological responses and neural sychronisation required for optimal human communication and trust, and that digital channels such as video conferencing disrupt our process of communicative information.”

Knight, C., Olaru, D., Lee, J.-A., & Parker, S. (2022, May 2). The loneliness of the hybrid worker. MIT Sloan Management Review. Retrieved November 9, 2022, from




Societal awareness

·      Loneliness a bodily function, just like hunger

·      1/3 of people in the western world are lonely

·      It has a major impact on individuals, organisations and society (can lead to polarisation)

·      How to spot the signs i.e.. awareness of loneliness loop – Quote from Brene Brown – “When we feel isolated, disconnected, and lonely, we try to protect ourselves.  In that mode, we want to connect but our brain is attempting to override connection with self protection.  That means less empathy, more defensiveness, more numbing, and less sleeping……Unchecked loneliness fuels continued loneliness by keeping us afraid to reach out”


Individual Change

·      Brain Health – Exercise and Rest (sleep / meditation / quiet time) can help reorient reward centres to more healthy behaviour.


·      Connect with yourself


1)    Recommended meditation (Chris Flack teaching a meditation via the free app Insight Timer) –

2)    Recommended learning (retreats)

3)    Recommended learning (books) – Conor Creighton – The Truth about Love


·      Be kind to yourself

If you feel lonely find someone to talk to about it. Remember you are not alone, many people feel lonely, if no-one is available to chat then goto (a free, anonymous, 24/7 messaging service providing everything from a calming chat to immediate support). If seeking professional help, research suggests that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a good place to start.

·      Individual change – Self Worth

If you think your friend /colleague is lonely

Don’t ask them if they want help 

Ask them to help you


·      Self Worth – A framework; volunteering


·      Self Worth – A framework; community groups



·      Digital Habits

Social Media impact on mental health – Meier, Adrian & Reinecke, Leonard. (2021). Computer-Mediated Communication, Social Media, and Mental Health: A Conceptual and Empirical Meta-Review. Communication Research. 48. 1182–1209. 10.1177/0093650220958224.


·      iPhone Effect study

Misra, S., Cheng, L., Genevie, J., & Yuan, M. (2016). The iPhone Effect: The Quality of In-Person Social Interactions in the Presence of Mobile Devices. Environment and Behavior, 48(2), 275–298.


·      Increase friction with tech – Have an “UnPlug Zone” for small periods of time in certain rooms. For example, no devices in certain meetings.


·      Decrease friction with humans –  Try to remove all friction eg even airpods when walking passed others to enable a more open connection.



·      Organisational framework for change

Importance of “togetherness” in company culture

For example,

If you build it, they might come e.g. free food in the canteen

If they build it, they will come e.g. cooking classes for teams each quarter

·      Firefighters that make food and eat together outperform colleagues

Kniffin, K. M., Wansink, B., Devine, C. M., & Sobal, J. (2015). Eating Together at the Firehouse: How Workplace Commensality Relates to the Performance of Firefighters. Human performance28(4), 281–306.

·      Encourage Collaboration  – Atlassian Performance Review based on Collaboration

·      Encourage Kindness – Cisco People Deal

·      Importance of weak ties,a%20greater%20sense%20of%20belonging.

·      Work Design  – Perlow, Leslie A., and Erin L. Kelly. “Toward a Model of Work Redesign for Better Work and Better Life.” Work and Occupations 41, no. 1 (February 2014): 111–134.

Example of Flexible Work Arrangement vs Work Design below;