Loneliness can be defined as being disconnected from others and seeing one’s relationships negatively. Consequently, one can feel lonely in a crowd, and yet surrounded by others. Loneliness can be detrimental to health and wellbeing.

In Australia, this trend is also being observed. However, very few commentators have drawn a connection between this public health epidemic and its impact on the workplace.

Now, the Australian report, Workplace Loneliness, has revealed that 40% of Australian workers feel lonely at work and it is causing a detriment to workplace productivity and personal wellbeing.

The report is based off data obtained through a quantitative survey with a sample of 1,010 employed Australians aged 18 – 65.

The research highlights that 38% of lonely workers report making more mistakes and 40 percent of lonely workers feel less productive.

Moreover, 47% of those that are lonely are more likely to suffer poor wellbeing and 36% of lonely workers report getting sick more often.

Workplace Loneliness builds on international commentary about the impact of loneliness on people’s health, including findings that loneliness has a similar effect as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

One of the most alarming findings in Workplace Loneliness is how workers believe workplace leaders and HR teams have not acted on this growing epidemic.

Only 9% of Australian workers feel comfortable speaking to HR about relationship concerns at work.

Other countries have responded to this public health concern. The United Kingdom, for example, has appointed a Minister for Loneliness and announced the first ever ‘Employer Pledge’ to tackle workplace loneliness.

According to the report, one important example to curb loneliness is to prioritise social connectedness from the start. All leaders know that effective onboarding is a critical component of the employee lifecycle. It has direct flow-on effects for employee engagement and retention. People leaders in workplaces must also understand that the onboarding process is an important first step in mitigating loneliness for new starters and, in fact, can curb the workplace loneliness trend.

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