While digital transformation and emerging technologies promise productivity, cost savings and other benefits, an over-reliance on them could impact employees.
“Considering the digital age has brought colleagues from across the world closer together, it’s ironic that it’s also making us feel more detached in the workplace,” said Dean Stallard, Managing Director of Hays Greater Bay Area.
It’s important business leaders and HR professionals spot any members of their workforce that may be struggling with loneliness, he said.
A sense of loneliness and detachment can have a direct impact on performance, engagement, wellbeing and can even lead to an employee taking time off, Stallard noted.
“It can also result in a higher turnover of staff if employees decide to seek a career elsewhere due to unhappiness,” he warned. “This can be an issue for businesses if they are suffering from skill shortages and retention of their talented staff is a key priority."
Working remotely is seen as a key benefit to many employees as it offers them flexibility, however, working from home can be a contributing factor to workers feeling lonely, according to Hays.
Having a connection with a colleague at work can make a big difference to a person’s wellbeing, the recruitment from said.
Business leaders need to make sure remote workers visit the office on a regular basis, at least once a week, the firm added.
“Loneliness and feeling isolated isn’t a mental health problem but can be a contributing factor, “ said Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at mental health charity Mind.
Feeling lonely can contribute to developing things like anxiety and depression, while people living with mental health problems are more likely to feel lonely, she added.
How to mitigate the issue
Hays highlights four ways to fight loneliness in the workplace.
Concentrate on culture: Try to build a culture that focuses on inclusion for all colleagues.
Encourage conversation: Ensure people feel comfortable talking to each other or their line managers if they are struggling with feelings of loneliness.
Make them meet: Ensure that staff who work in an isolated location regularly get some time in the office working with their peers.
Start social: Establish social groups in your organisation and ensure staff who may feel lonely, such as remote workers, are invited and encouraged to attend.