Loneliness in the workplace is on the rise and is proving detrimental to worker well-being and bad for business.

Nearly 75% of Australians experience loneliness. For many it’s not an occasional occurrence but a persistent problem, with one-third saying that they feel lonely at least once a week.

Those at the top are especially at risk for feeling socially disconnected, with half of CEOs reporting feelings of loneliness in their roles and more than half of that group believe their performance suffers as a result.

Employees without close or supportive relationships at work are more likely to feel disconnected from their jobs and that can affect their performance. There is a direct correlation between loneliness and productivity and absenteeism.

The quality of an employee’s interpersonal relationships has a significant impact on how they perceive and connect with their workplace. Loneliness at work triggers emotional withdrawal, which affects not only the individual but co-workers as well, indicating that loneliness is an organizational problem not a personal one.

One way employers can address the problem is by measuring and tracking perceptions of inclusion and belonging. An employee needs to feel that their voice matters and that they are being heard in order to feel engaged.

Nearly two decades ago, Gallup Press published a list of 12 elements of great managing. The most controversial finding revealed that having a best friend at work could improve job performance. A Gallup researcher noted at the time that leaders who balked at the idea of workplace friendships viewed close social ties between employees as “detrimental to productivity.” But those views are now changing.

Loneliness can also contribute to depression which is another reason why employers should take workplace loneliness as an important issue. It is very important to foster social connection because it’s part of being human.