More Americans than ever are feeling lonely and socially isolated. This lack of social connection is having profound effects on our mental and physical health, according to a warning released by the Surgeon General on May 1st.
This formal advisory is the first time America’s top doctor has issued a warning about loneliness and adds to growing concern that the epidemic will only get worse as remote and hybrid work models become permanent for millions of American's.
Rates of loneliness, which were already at record highs pre-pandemic, have only gotten worse post-pandemic. The impact of it is likely to be devastating. In fact, the Surgeon General cited earlier research showing that loneliness is as deadly as smoking.
After working with hundreds of organizations and over 20,000 CEOs and managers to implement workplace well-being strategies, I strongly believe that the shift toward hybrid and remote work is only going to make the loneliness epidemic worse. That said, it’s clear that hybrid and remote work is here to stay. So, given these challenges, here are three ways employers can cultivate connection with their employees to mitigate the effects of the rise in loneliness:
As a recent McKinsey Report demonstrates, this individual-solution strategy, embraced by most organizations, is effectively solving the wrong problem - especially when it comes to addressing mental health issues, such as burnout, anxiety, depression and loneliness.
“Employers tend to overlook the role of the workplace in driving employee mental health and well-being, engagement and performance.”
In their 15-country survey, the McKinsey Health Institute researchers found that the biggest contributor to rising rates of burnout in the workplace - by a giant margin of 60% - was toxic workplace behavior. This culture of toxicity was also the biggest predictor of intent to leave the company.
Upshot: Businesses need to understand that employee well-being is a collective responsibility, necessitating a full-throttled support from the CEO on down. Moreover, employee well-being cannot be the sole responsibility of the HR department or the wellness committee.
As we advocate in our Managers on the Move leadership-meets-wellness training program, every manager can make a measurable difference for their team - and themselves - through three simple steps: Do (lead by example), Speak (talk about well-being in a transparent and human way), and Create (devise team-based systems that normalize well-being within the team).
What I’m Reading This Month: How To Work with (Almost) Anyone by Michael Bungay Stanier
I’m going to start highlighting some of the books I am reading each month. Do you have a book you’d recommend reading? I would love to hear about them, so please share them in the comment section below.
mE AT MY BEST® ONLINE COURSE
IT'S ALL TOO EASY TO LOSE SIGHT OF
BECOMING YOUR BEST SELF.
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