Feeling blue? Workplace loneliness is becoming a serious problem across the country. We spend approximately 1/3 of our lives working. If you’re an entrepreneur, that number may easily double. Loneliness itself can lead to a lack of productivity, creativity, and decision making abilities. It makes employees far more likely to get sick, and increases absenteeism. In other words, loneliness at work is costing you money and directly affecting your bottom line. Loneliness may be felt individually, but the ramifications directly affect your company’s ability to succeed. It is critical to tackle the issue of loneliness and cultivate a workplace culture of collaboration, trust, and happiness.
In today’s digital age, we have a myriad of technological developments that make us feel more connected than ever before. From social media to texting and e-mail, the need to speak to someone face-to-face is almost non-existent. But with the rise of digital communications has come an increase in loneliness. The more we rely on technology to communicate, the less connected we become with one another emotionally and physically. Feeling isolated at work can not only impact an employee’s productivity, but their overall health and well-being as well. In fact, loneliness has now become such a pervasive problem that the U.K. has appointed a “Minister of Loneliness” to combat the epidemic! Did you know that you can be prescribed “socialization”?
Over 53% of people have said that they lack meaningful interactions during their work day. Why does this matter? Loneliness has the same affect on your body as smoking 15 cigarettes a day! It has been linked to an increased risk in heart disease, cancer, stroke, and neurodegenerative disease. Loneliness, quite literally, breaks our hearts. Overall, feeling lonely everyday increases your risk of dying by 26%. “The level of toxicity from loneliness is stunning,” says John Cacioppo, the founder and director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience.
So, what can be done about the crisis of loneliness in the workplace? Because humans are social creatures, we need to feel connected to one another in order to be fulfilled and happy in our lives. The people who feel the least lonely are those who have found the best work-life balance, according to Cigna’s 2018 U.S. Loneliness Index Study. The most high-performing businesses have a workplace culture that fosters a sense of authentic connection with others. Good workplace relationships have been directly linked to overall health and well-being. Positive working relationships not only foster collaboration and productivity, but significantly decease employee loneliness according to Cigna’s study.
As an entrepreneur and business owner, the battle against workplace loneliness starts at the top with you. From the very beginning, employees need to feel included and valued. This starts with the on-boarding process for new employees. Make your on-boarding more personal by taking your newest team member out for coffee, or assigning them a workplace mentor to show them the ropes. Even these small gestures can show employees that you care about them as individuals, rather than merely as professionals.
To foster a culture of connectivity and inclusion, it’s important that every employee knows that their voice is heard and their opinion valued. Show appreciation for good ideas, and encourage everyone, from the receptionist to the CFO, to speak up. Get to know your employees both personally and professionally by communicating in person, rather than via e-mail. Walk around your office and stop to have a chat. Having interest in your employees’ lives outside of work makes them feel included and valued, and shows that you care about more than their professional skills.
Feeling valued and included is the opposite of feeling lonely. Encourage your team to have a healthy work-life balance. Offer generous vacation time, and be respectful of your team’s time away from work. Flexible hours, work-from-home days, and maternity leave go a long way to showing that you care about your employees’ health and well-being. Beyond personal perks, you may want to go as far as organizing group activities for your team. Encourage company sports teams, volunteer days, or company recreational outings. Encouraging your team to socialize outside of the office is a great way to foster collaboration and personal relationships.
By doing a few, simple things for your team you can foster a workplace culture of connectivity, collaboration, and inclusion through authentic connections with others. “There is a huge, hidden epidemic of loneliness and disenfranchisement from the human race,” Steve Cole, genetics researcher at the University of California, says. By making a few simple changes and gestures, you can significantly improve your team’s productivity, health and well-being, and give your company a competitive advantage to succeed. When you’re ready for even more growth, check out BizLender online or call 855-433-8641. BizLender has been offering lending solutions since 2013, and emphasizes working smarter, not harder, by using technology to fund small businesses in as little as 24 hours. Give us a call; one of our Small Business Lending Specialists would be happy to chat with you, today!
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