As a leader, it’s part of your job to ensure that nobody in your team is feeling isolated. It might not be something you’ve paid much mind to before, but a new survey suggests there’s something of a loneliness epidemic in the workplace.
In a study by recruitment website Totaljobs, 60% of the nearly 6,000 workers quizzed said they have felt lonely at work. A quarter of employees (26%) have gone as far to leave their jobs because of feelings of isolation.
Loneliness can creep in for all sorts of reasons. Nearly half (44%) of those people who’ve suffered from workplace loneliness said it was because of work-related pressures, which prevented them from interacting with their colleagues.
Sometimes it can come down to not fitting in with the rest of the team, with 42% citing this reason while 32% of people said they actively seek solitude at work. Meanwhile, one in five (21%) people associated their loneliness with discrimination.
It’ll come as little surprise to hear that feeling lonely has an impact on stress levels, self-esteem and general health, with 56% of employees saying they lose sleep when they feel isolated.
Talking the issue head-on
It’s not good enough to wait for employees to come to you – you’ve got to provide an environment that allows them to discuss their feelings openly, with 30% of women saying they don’t talk about the issue and 39% of men saying they wouldn’t either.
In response to the survey, Mind and the Samaritans advised employers to do more by listening to their workers and being aware of different employee needs.
“Talking to someone can help you to feel less lonely. Equally, we would urge employers to be proactive in putting measures in place so those suffering from loneliness in the workplace have a network of people and tools to support them,” said Martin Talbot, Group Marketing Director at Totaljobs.
Who’s looking out for you?
Leaders can feel isolated and lonely, too. Sure, the hecticness of our schedule often doesn’t allow us time to engage with our emotions – but we all need somebody we can turn to in the rough moments.
It’s understandable that you might not want to place your concerns at your family’s door. But if that results in your stifling your inner thoughts and emotions, because you feel like you have nobody to share them with, that in itself can be detrimental on your mental health – and bad for business.
So, ask yourself: ‘Who’s looking out for me?’, ‘Who can I discuss my business with who understands what I’m going through?’. If you can’t think of anybody, give us a ring. That’s the very reason we started this business in the first place.