Loneliness in the workplace is often masked by symptoms like fatigue and burnout, making it challenging for leaders to address the root cause. While excessive workload is a common assumption, loneliness and social isolation can also contribute to these issues.
Fatigue, commonly attributed to being extremely busy, can also be a sign of loneliness. Research indicates that loneliness triggers feelings of exhaustion, and addressing it requires more than just adjustments in tasks or promoting rest.
Loneliness often evokes shame, hindering open discussions. Leaders play a vital role in creating an environment where employees feel comfortable addressing their feelings of isolation. So, what are some signs to look for?
- Changes in body language and tone of voice
- Increased irritability
- Frequent expressions of fatigue and frustration
Social isolation doesn’t only impact emotional well-being but also influences work performance. Loneliness triggers a shutdown of cognitive and social abilities, reducing productivity, creativity, problem-solving skills, and rational thinking. Strengthening social connections among employees is key to combating loneliness.
To foster a sense of community, leaders can cultivate a culture where individuals feel valued, supported, and respected. Prioritising daily interactions and cross-functional collaboration, along with promoting trust and psychological safety, contributes to building a supportive work environment. Establishing a purpose-driven collective and maintaining high standards while celebrating collective successes helps combat loneliness and burnout.