37% of Australian Workers Are Lonely!
Loneliness has been widely reported across the western world as an epidemic…and it’s growing!
What isn’t always known though is the impact of this is far reaching - beyond feeling ‘a bit left out’:
Loneliness has been associated with cardiovascular problems and premature death. Lonelier individuals are less likely to achieve quality sleep. Lonely individuals experience reductions in reasoning and creativity. In addition to these reduced abilities, loneliness affects workplace productivity, as lonely individuals report less job satisfaction and are more likely to face unemployment. Loneliness is commonly correlated with mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, and suicidality. Similarly, loneliness is often associated with poor coping mechanisms, such as compulsive technology use, smoking, and self-harm.
According to the Harvard Business Review , lonelier workers reported lower job satisfaction, fewer promotions, more job changes, and a higher likelihood of quitting their current job in the immediate future. Feeling a lack of workplace social support was associated with similar negative business outcomes. The economic impact of loneliness is indeed staggering - especially when you consider that lonely workers are 15% more likely to experience depression.
A new report has just come out detailing loneliness in the Australian workplace. It lists the impact and reasons why we have loneliness in our workplaces:
Precarious work and the gig economy have contributed to socially disconnected workplaces.
Loneliness reduces job and life satisfaction.
The construction of ‘work’ and increased workloads have contributed to this loneliness epidemic.
Meaningful relationships exist between colleagues, but there is an imperative to actively foster social connection in the workplace.
Employers have a vastly different workplace experience to workers
Age makes a difference when it comes to willingness to interact and experience interactions in the workplace.
Managers play a pivotal role in workers’ experiences of workplace loneliness.
Loneliness in the workplace does not go unnoticed.
Workplace loneliness is not only about being socially disconnected; it is also about being the ‘only’ in your workplace.
Leaders and HR are not doing enough to address and reduce workplace loneliness.
The conclusions of the report show that workplaces can play a huge role in supporting their employees - this helps from a social perspective, creates connection and engagement to the workplace.
But most significant from a manager or employer’s perspective is it increases productivity!
Workplace solutions must shift the focus from the ‘worker experience’ to the ‘human experience’
I have always maintained that relationships are the heart of business; that human connection within the workplace is central to not only a great work culture but essential for the future of the workplace. It seems now there is more and more data to back me up!
Jo O’Donovan is the founder of Workplace Relationships, based in Melbourne. She works with companies to increase their productivity through focusing on their culture, people and relationships. Jo has a particular passion for improving the mental health of employees through developing the human connections within organisations and her new online course on Mental Health In The Workplace can be accessed here.