Loneliness experienced by UK employees in 2017 cost their employers £2.5 billion (AUD$4.5 billion) per year. A study in the US also revealed that loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, which makes it more dangerous than obesity. With 40% of the Australian workforce feeling lonely, figures which are mirrored across the globe, the ripple effect of loneliness is catastrophic.
From reduced creativity, clarity and decision making to increased emotional and physical stress, loneliness doesn’t just limit the performance of individuals, it impacts their entire network. While loss of productivity and peak performance affect a business’ bottom line, so too do the increased leave days. As loneliness itself prevents connection, asking someone to ‘get involved’ isn’t going to help, because we, as humans, have a fear of judgement which instils a natural tendency to withdraw, rather than join-in. However, the good news is that connection is also basic instinct, which put simply means feelings of loneliness is the body saying it needs to connect with someone.
Feeling connected in (and out) of our working lives drives peak performance, success and wellbeing. In our everyday, connection develops stronger relationships, increased awareness, creativity, clarity, mindfulness and sense of self to enable us, our team and business to thrive. Research highlights that people with strong social relationships are 50% less likely to die prematurely than those with weak social relationships. Research also continues to reiterate the strong link between high performing and highly connected workplaces.
While 2020 has seen us working and connecting online more than ever, it’s not the quantity of ‘connecting’ but rather quality that requires our attention. Just like being in someone’s presence, you simply can’t replace a handshake, pat on the back or hug with an emoji, it just doesn’t provide the same response and nor should we expect it too. After all, touch is the first sense we, as humans, acquire and is a key biological ingredient that we all need, releasing oxytocin in our bodies to make us feel good.
So, as you start to dive deeper into addressing loneliness within your worklife, start first with cultivating a culture of true connection. From developing relationships by using a Wellineux connection card at the start of each virtual meeting, to more personal actions like hand written notes of encouragement and recognition, focus on small simple acts, as they are the ones that create great change.
Is loneliness preventing your peak performance? — Corporate Health, Workplace Wellness & Wellbeing is written by Amanda McMillan for www.wellineux.com