Loneliness. Everyone’s experienced it. Maybe you joined a new school once and had no-one to sit with at lunch. Or been sat at home on a Saturday night, with ‘social media envy’ overexciting plans that didn’t involve you.
More recently, loneliness has taken on a new meaning. While remote working was a silver lining for some, others have spent the pandemic feeling isolated. But while employee loneliness is a big problem for your business, it isn’t a new one…
Workplace loneliness isn’t a new problem. In 2019, 53.6% of British workers felt lonely at work – rising to 66.5% of 35-44-year olds, and 54.8% of people aged 18-24. Across the pond, the situation is similar – with 61% of American adults saying they feel lonely.
There’s a lot of contributing factors to this concerning reality: not having work friends, or anything in common with their colleagues, eating lunch alone, working with different age groups… the list goes on. And while remote working is on that list, it’s not the primary culprit.
In some groups, the answer is yes – and that comes down to your employees’ home situations. For people living alone or in unsociable flatshares, losing the social outlet of the office is bound to have been a considerable challenge.
One study suggested 20% of remote workers will suffer from loneliness – which is worth bearing in mind if remote working is in your organisation’s future – but a hybrid approach also poses challenges. The same loneliness risk faced by shift workers may emerge if teams are on different in-and-out-of-office schedules.
But with the knowledge that workplace loneliness was already a big problem, people leaders deciding the future of the workplace should treat this as an opportunity to reset, reconsider, and restart efforts to tackle loneliness – because it’s a threat to their business:
Isn’t loneliness a personal problem? Even if that’s your point of view, it’s a risky strategy when it comes to performance. Lonely workers:
Research suggests that if you tackle loneliness and create a sense of belonging, you can see a financial boost of over $52 million. So it’s something worth taking seriously, by considering some of this advice:
Your mileage may vary, when it comes to these tips. But if you want a surefire way to prevent loneliness, create connection, and encourage friendships in your organisation, then there’s one thing you can do: listen.
Employee surveys help you ask relevant questions, and get useful answers. And with our platform, you can clearly identify focus areas – and quickly decide new initiatives. Book a demo, and see how it can help you have the conversations you need to have: