Lonely employees: The sad facts

by Janie Smith18 Aug 2014
It seems that workplace loneliness is a widespread and largely silent problem.

A study by the UK charity Relate found that 42% of people had no close friends at work, although most employees had more contact with their boss and colleagues than with their friends or close family, The Telegraph reported.

According to the study, there was a link between low self-esteem and poor work-life balance and one in three workers believed their employer considered people prepared to put work ahead of family as being more productive.

Younger workers between the ages of 25 and 34 and high earners were more likely to feel pressured to put work first.

“The results around how close we feel to others are very concerning,” said Relate CEO Ruth Sutherland.

“Relationships are the asset which can get us through good times and bad, and it is worrying to think that there are people who feel they have no one they can turn to during life’s challenges.”

So how can HR help to alleviate employee loneliness?

According to a New York Times article, it’s not a matter of organising more social gatherings, but taking simple steps like having a chat, seeking input on projects or going out for a coffee with a colleague.

University of Pennsylvania management professor Sigal Barsade told the Times that the way work was structured had an impact on the sense of community in the workplace.

“Managers need to be thoughtful about making sure that their teams and team members are interpersonally engaged and connected to each other. We know that’s a mechanism through which good work gets done.”

Life Hacker reported that the company Zapier is mindful of workplace loneliness and makes sure its employees are connecting by doing things like going on team trips, providing daily feedback and using online connecting tools like Sqwiggle.

Employees at social media company SocialToaster each together each day at a “Hogwarts-style” table, as do workers at video-hosting company Wistia.

How do you deal with workplace loneliness?
 

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