Lonely at Work

Employee burnout has been on many organizations’ radar screen for quite some time, but it’s often focused on the individual’s workload or stress level. A recent article suggests that this burnout may result from workplace loneliness, and that the answer may lie not only in improving each individual work situation, but also in building stronger connections among team members.

Workers are reporting higher than ever levels of exhaustion from work. The authors of the book The Happiness Track found that nearly half the workers interviewed for their book reported feeling burned out.  And this exhaustion is creating isolation and loneliness in the workplace.

Health professionals have long known about loneliness’ effect on physical and mental health, and these outcomes are starting to materialize at work. When people are lonely at work, they disengage. This disengagement can lead to higher absenteeism, more accidents, lower profitability, and lower share prices, not to mention increased health care expenses.

The greatest weapon is to create more social connectedness among colleagues. Fostering friendly relationships is a great first step, as a more coherent and compassionate workplace promotes resilience.

An extension of this friendliness is to encourage or implement mentoring and internal networking opportunities. Commit time to letting employees get to know each other, and to find their own peer groups and potential mentors. Encourage them to share hobbies, and to foster friendly connections. Celebrating team successes promotes wellbeing as well.

A great side benefit to these activities - many of them are low cost or even free! 

What do you do to fight loneliness at your company? Can / will you do more?