Technology allows us to speak with others across the country and around the world without having to leave the office. While these modern-day opportunities may be convenient, they could actually be contributing to loneliness. We all have an innate need to be connected to others, to belong. Loneliness pulls us away from social connectedness and if not addressed it can impact office productivity, morale, and employees’ health.
Research shows that the impact of loneliness on mortality is equivalent to smoking fifteen cigarettes daily in health care outcomes and costs. Negative consequences of loneliness include, among others:
Like many mental health conditions stigma exists around loneliness. Many people feel ashamed to disclose their feelings of loneliness due to fear of being negatively judged and treated differently by others. Ironically, the technology connecting us in and out of the workplace is the same technology that contributes to isolation. Despite the technologically advanced world we live in, more than 40% of American adults report experiencing loneliness. Additionally, loneliness has a significant effect on work output, limiting individual and team performance, reducing creativity and impairing reasoning and decision making.
Factors that contribute to loneliness include:
If prolonged, these issues can lead to:
This directly impacts an organization’s revenue, spending and organizational performance. The mental and physical effects of social isolation lead to higher costs for sick leave and health insurance claims. On the other hand, positive social relationships strengthen employee retention and productivity—positively impacting the bottom line. The best way to tackle loneliness in the workplace is to build a culture of connection and community.
Here are some strategies to consider:
Grace Kim is a Resident in Counseling providing services at the Healthy Minds Therapy Woodbridge location. She is a Qualified Mental Health Professional for Children (QMHP-C) and a National Certified Counselor (NCC). Grace has extensive experience providing outpatient counseling services to children, adolescents, and young adults. She also has sufficient experience working with adult clients with longstanding substance abuse issues. She is an individual who has had her own share of mental health challenges and, with the help of those around her, has been able to overcome obstacles and barriers in her life.