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Loneliness in the Workplace is a Big Problem with a Simple Solution

Loneliness and employee isolation are problems for every large organization worldwide, whether it is a business, charity, or governmental department and the more reliant on technology that organization is, the more the problem tends to present itself. This paper will discuss why social interaction is great for businesses and why loneliness can be a professional problem as well as a personal one. Good employers also care about the individual well-being of their employees so we’ll dive into the individual effects of social interaction and loneliness as well. Finally, we’ll discuss some of the causes and methods that employers often employ to solve these problems and why they are coming up short and how Maka Social can make a difference in your organization.

Why Professional Socializing is Important

A growing stream of research has shown that employee job performance is significantly tied to an employee’s ability to build and maintain a relational support system and interpersonal networks. This makes a lot of sense. The old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is as true now as it has ever been. Our personal connections can often be a lifeline when we need help or can just give us a healthy feeling of satisfaction when we are able to help others. The importance of socializing on the job however goes beyond networking. “Connection with others has been found to be an inherent part of employee motivation and satisfaction.” “Researchers for Gallup found that having strong social connections at work makes employees more likely to be engaged with their jobs and produce higher-quality work, and less likely to fall sick or be injured.” There is also strong evidence that employees give serious consideration to social interaction when choosing a job. “Analysis of 42,721 employee responses from a Glassdoor survey, found that non-cash benefits such as social experiences and the opportunity to take leaves had a greater impact on job satisfaction than money did.”

Employee Loneliness Can Cost You Money

While positive social interaction can be great for your organization, lonely employees may be costing you more than you might think. “In the workplace, many employees and half of CEOs report feeling lonely in their roles. People sit in an office full of coworkers, even in open-plan workspaces, but everyone is staring at a computer or attending task-oriented meetings where opportunities to connect on a human level are scarce.” “Several papers have documented a link between loneliness and lowered organizational commitment, lowered creativity,” “and lower productivity.” “Lonely employees have been found to have more problems in taking part in groups, being friendly, introducing themselves, and making friends with others,” and “it can strongly influence their intention to leave.”  Without intervention, this problem can become feedback loop and worsen. “Employees experiencing greater work loneliness will likely evaluate their previous social exchanges with coworkers as negative; therefore, lonelier employees will tend to withdraw from existing relationship opportunities. In addition, lonelier employees will expect the worst in the future, causing them to continue to withdraw—a tendency exacerbated by deficits in their social skills caused by the loneliness itself.” Loneliness on the job doesn’t just make a person under perform, it can also have a negative impact on the people around them. “As they become lonelier, their preoccupation with their own feelings can lead to deficits in empathy for others.”

Socializing and the Well-being of the Individual

It can not be overstated how much social interaction is important to human health. “Even fleeting social interactions with others can play a surprisingly large role in reducing stress and promoting happiness.”  “Although initiating a conversation with someone you don’t know is hard, casual social interactions with strangers significantly boost happiness.” “In a simple study, researchers intercepted people going into a coffee shop, asking half to make a social connection with the barista . They asked the other half to complete their transaction as efficiently as possible. The first group reported higher well-being and satisfaction with their visit.” “A similar study by Juliana Schroeder of UC Berkeley reinforced these findings that prosocial behavior not only combats loneliness but also makes people happier with their environment. She found that encouraging people waiting in line at an amusement park to be social with nearby strangers made them feel that their wait was shorter and led them to rate the experience higher. The simple intervention increased their enjoyment of the overall experience.”