The Epidemic in Every Workplace

lonely-at-top.jpgNot at work… but working.

Sounds familiar, I know. We all do it all the time. We’re working more – connected 24/7. Information overload is draining. We’re becoming less connected to family, friends, co-workers, and communities; we just don’t have the time, and it’s affecting our health because humans are hardwired to connect, and when we don’t – we suffer.

This article by Harvard Business Review really tells the story of the loneliness epidemic at work.

The need to feel connected to other people, even at work – especially at work – is a theme we frequently see Michael Stallard, co-founder of the Connection Culture movement and a leading expert on what it takes to avoid personal and organizational burnout, bringing to the attention of the ExecuNet community.

Michael has talked about the need for a workplace culture where people are resources to each other and are genuinely connected. This makes a huge difference in our performance, our health, and in our happiness. There is a bond based on shared identity, empathy, and understanding that moves individuals toward group-centered identities.

Unfortunately, despite a greater awareness, the article states that Americans are feeling twice as lonely as just 30 years ago, and half of CEOs feel lonely in their roles.

Feeling this way leads to so many problems: burnout, premature aging due to job stress, hostile behavior, poor attendance, and inferior job performance headline the list.

The “fix” isn’t simple. Because of the modern way of doing work, it’s easy to become isolated. We communicate through email much more than with calls or face-to-faces talks. People telework or are hired on temporary contacts. Most of us work with our faces in a monitor, not actually with other people; and are happy hours and team-building activities really creating deep relationships or are we just getting through them?

An abundance of research has shown connection helps us thrive as individuals, bringing joy into our lives to make us healthier and more productive. The beacon of hope that real change may come is that organizations also thrive when their cultures encourage connection. Michael identifies five benefits to organizations:

  1. Employees who feel connected perform at the top of their game.
  2. Employees who feel connected give their best efforts.
  3. Employees who feel connected align their behavior with organizational goals.
  4. Employees who feel connected help improve the quality of decisions.
  5. Employees who feel connected actively contribute to innovation.

These benefits add up to a powerful source of competitive advantage!

Leaders who create relationship excellence communicate an inspiring vision, value people, and allow those people a voice. When the elements needed to thrive at work are present in a workplace culture, employees are mentally and physically healthier, more trusting, productive, cooperative, and creative.

Here are some resources on how you can make your life – home and office – one of connection:

Please read the HBR article! It’s really important we spread awareness of this situation, one existing in every workplace in America.

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson is ExecuNet's president and chief economist. An Arjay Miller Scholar, Mark received his MBA from Stanford University and a BA in economics from Yale University. He joined ExecuNet in 1993, with extensive marketing and new product and business development experience, having served as president and founder of A&M Associates, an investment management firm. Mark's corporate leadership experience includes several senior marketing and financial positions with RCA Global Communications (a GE subsidiary) and American Can Company.

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