Why are employees feeling lonelier than ever and why it matters..
In a world with huge amounts of technology, if its never been easier to stay in contact, why are more and more employees feeling lonely and why should we care?
We all can feel lonely from time to time but persistent feelings of being alone or feeling lonely can impact both physical and mental wellbeing. The effect of loneliness and isolation on life expectancy on physical health is comparable to the impact of well-known risk factors such as obesity, and has a similar influence as cigarette smoking. It is associated with higher blood pressure and reduced immunity to illness and disease.
In terms of mental health, loneliness and isolation are a risk factor for increased depression, poor sleep, low self-esteem and engaging in more unhealthy coping mechanisms. It can have a huge impact on work as it reduces performance, limits creativity and hinders our ability to make decisions.
Loneliness and being alone are two very different things. Personalities and past experiences will influence the amount of contact employees need with others, but as human beings and a social species they will all need to feel connected to other people. Research shows that we need more than just contact, we need to feel connected and that disconnection is at the heart of loneliness.
Employees are feeling lonelier than ever because they need meaningful social interactions. Historically our workplaces, communities and homes have been places to feel connected to others. The pandemic has increased isolation and loneliness often fuels loneliness, as employees stay in self preservation mode and isolate themselves further. Often fearful or anxious of environments where there is a perceived or real risk of rejection. If we want reduce loneliness, we need to create working environments and opportunities where connection feels safe and valued.
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