One in four Australians reported feeling lonely each week, the 2018 Australian Loneliness Report revealed.This report also found that higher levels of loneliness are associated with higher levels of social interaction anxiety, less social interaction, poorer psychological wellbeing and poorer quality of life.
The ILO estimates that around 61 per cent of the world’s working-age population participates in the labour market.
Given these statistics it seems obvious that a place where people are coming together regularly provides an opportunity to address loneliness which is on the increase.
You would also think that if organisations are wanting the best from their employees that by fuelling connection and addressing loneliness it will impact on the health of their teams and that healthy teams would lead to greater productivity and business outcomes. Yes, but still not happening; so why not?
Too often workplaces are descending down a rabbit hole into purely being commodity traders and this includes not only their products but also their people it is just the business transactions that count there is no space for the people. To foster real connection at work the sort that will address loneliness people need to be able to show who they are at work; certainly not just a be part of a transaction. Without being able to be share who you really are you are not going to connect or link in with someone else and this is a breeding ground for loneliness; when you are somewhere but not seen. Does the culture or even the “busyness” of your workplace prevent this from happening. Do you give people the chance to show who they are when they come to work?
Giving teams the space to vent, debrief and problem solve together allows people the chance to share who they are and what their experiences are and in doing so they reveal a little more of who they are and this provides a platform for connection.
So, the questions for your workplace might be:
- are we providing a space for people to understand one another?
- are we providing a space that is safe to express your honest opinion without fear of retribution?
- does everyone have a voice at your workplace?
- when people try to express themselves do we shut the conversation down or do we open it up with more questions seeking to understand rather than moving on to the the next transaction
When you provide this space to really unpick things that are happening in the workplace and allow people the opportunity to discuss the pressure points as a team then you are fostering real connection and in doing so you might just be helping someone to connect at your workplace and as a result they may not feel quite so lonely. The statistics are one in four, think about that when you are thinking of workplace health and well-being and what you are putting in place to address this reality.
By stepping out of the trend to commoditise all aspects of our working life and allowing people to reveal who they are you are going to fuel connection and in doing so prioritise you team’s health and well-being, build a stronger, sturdier workforce and with this the real magic can take place.