You can feel lonely even if you are not alone. People can often feel lonely even when they work in busy and buzzing office environments. In fact, some of the most bustling office buildings, can be some of the most isolating environments to work in.
Loneliness is a subjective experience that can affect anyone, regardless of their role or their seniority and it is a tangible problem in the corporate world, not just to the employee, but to the business as well. Work loneliness triggers employees’ emotional withdrawal from their organisation and can have a significant influence on their work performance and team role effectiveness as lonely people tend to be less committed and collaborative. On the other hand, employees who feel connected with their colleagues are much stronger team players, help each other out and go above and beyond being the contributor of the bare minimum.
Loneliness has also been identified as a factor in workplace burnout and can even drive employees to quit their jobs. The Cigna’s “Loneliness and the Workplace report” found that lonely workers are twice as likely to miss a day of work due to illness than non-lonely workers, and five times more likely to miss a day of work on account of stress. And in an average month, workers suffering from loneliness consider resigning more than twice as often than non-afflicted workers.
We spend a third of our lives working, so it’s not surprising that people who have good relationships in the workplace are more likely to be happy and engaged in their jobs.
How can employers help to beat loneliness in the workplace?
Good relationships are fundamental to combating loneliness and the best way to tackle loneliness in the workplace is to create a culture of connection and community that encourages people to build meaningful relationships.
Look closely at your organisation’s working practices and make sure that people are not physically divided by the layout when in the office and good and effective communication is maintained when working remotely or from different office locations.
Whilst increasing interaction may be beneficial for some aspects of work, it’s certainly not enough to create strong interpersonal bonds among colleagues.
Foster a culture of trust and empathy. Employees don’t advertise their loneliness. They are unlikely to speak up unless they receive strong signals from leaders and teammates that it is safe to do so and that they’ll receive positive reinforcement for doing so. This will create that level of psychological safety that gives people the confidence to open up about their own feelings. Going beyond superficial workplace relationships can be scary because true closeness involves some level of vulnerability, but it can lead to a deepening of personal relationships and help create authentic and high-quality connections.
Make the time to get to know and really understand your people, take an interest in their lives, in their stories, and remember that the smallest gestures like making someone a coffee and other random act of kindness, can make a real difference.
Build on your shared values. This will help cohesion within the team and ensure their values and purpose are more aligned with the wider organisation.
Get your people together. Create opportunities for fun and collaboration outside the workplace to help people bond and tackle loneliness through social events, team building, and charitable activities. Getting together to help others through charitable activities particularly can be an extremely powerful bonding experience as it provides a sense of purpose. Purpose gives meaning to people’s efforts and a shared meaningful purpose builds camaraderie and makes the experience way more valuable, memorable, and fulfilling.
What did the Adamson & Partners Team do to tackle loneliness, together?
On Thursday 5th May, the Adamson & Partners Team spent an evening walking around the West End of London with the Soup Kitchen helping out some lonely and vulnerable people in London. For more information about the Soup Kitchen and our evening, follow this link.
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