Loneliness at work impairs mood and health – and hurts productivity and the bottom line. The economic damage caused when employees suffer feelings of isolation may soon worsen as offices become more automated and more people work remotely
The share of American adults who say they’re lonely has doubled since the 1980s to 40 percent, says AARP. Though the U.S. doesn’t track the financial effect of disconnected workers, researchers in Britain, which recently appointed a Minister of Loneliness, estimate the penalty to businesses can reach $3.5 billion annually (including higher turnover and heftier health-care costs).
Among the loneliest professions: lawyers, engineers, and research scientists, followed by workers in food services, libraries, and education. Even though these jobs do involve human contact, a lack of true camaraderie takes a significant toll.
Social forces may be engendering increasing isolation, but awareness is key. Managers should actively search for ways to create emotionally open cultures, where employees feel safe to talk about issues and have opportunities to bond.
From the Glasers