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How to Help Employees Avoid Loneliness and Burnout

January 15, 2019
| ByGina Jessica Smith

With fewer boundaries between work and recreational time, many employees are at risk of burning out. Remote work has increased by 115 percent in the past decade, creating a potentially dangerous combination of loneliness and burnout. Everyone starts the new year refreshed and energized with their resolutions, but they may not think about the eventual burnout that initiates after a while. So what should employees start doing now to prevent burnout in the future?

Research Regarding Employee Burnout and Loneliness

Today’s workers are much more likely to report being burned out with about two-thirds of people reporting that they are exhausted due to work. Additionally, research indicates that there is a significant correlation between feeling lonely and work exhaustion. When people are exhausted, they often feel lonelier.

Research also indicates that loneliness reduces a person’s longevity by 70 percent and increases the likelihood of a stroke or coronary heart disease by 30 percent. Moreover, loneliness at work is associated with a host of negative consequences for businesses and increases absenteeism, results in more workplace accidents, decreases profitability and decreases share prices.

A significant source of employee loneliness is due to an increase in remote work, according to a global study, Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation. This study involved surveying more than 2,000 employees, one-third of which worked remotely. Only 5 percent of remote workers believed they would work for their existing company for their entire careers, compared to about one-third of traditional workers.

The study found that people craved a sense of authentic human connection with others in the workplace. According to the study, 100 top leaders of major corporations said that while technology helped make work more efficient, it also sacrificed the human connection.

Ways to Decrease Employee Burnout and Loneliness

Management can take proactive steps to decrease burnout and loneliness, including the following:

Build Collaboration Spaces

Many employers recognize the benefit of allowing remote work and that many of today’s workers prefer a more flexible work environment. However, remote work can be a driver of workplace loneliness. Employers can build collaboration spaces where people work together and interact face-to-face. Management can provide space and time where remote workers can connect with the larger organization, which will help make them feel more connected to others.

Encourage Employees to Build Developmental Networks

Help employees connect and form work clusters that they can turn to for task advice or emotional support. Workers can be divided into teams based on the type of work they do. New hires can be connected with coaches and peers that can help them fit into the new work environment. Management can promote the use of these teams by allowing time for them to get together and sharing contact information between team members.

Encourage Collaborative Work

Team projects can help members of different departments interact and promote creativity and support in the workplace. Teams can be large or small. Work projects benefit from incorporating employees with different skill sets and by dividing the workload between multiple people to prevent burnout.

Start a Mentorship Program

New employees may feel intimidated entering a new work environment. A mentorship program can give the new hire a person to go to for work advice and guidance when onboarding. These relationships are often very important to workers. These programs also help people develop confidence in the workplace and in their positions.

Promote a Workplace Culture of Inclusion

Research indicates that workplaces that are known for positive characteristics such as respect, honesty, care, support, and empathy contribute to a higher employee performance in the overall organization. Work leaders can help create a friendly work atmosphere by encouraging people to work together and to embrace inclusion. They can also take proactive steps against workplace bullying.

Celebrate Collective Successes

Members of an organization need to feel that they are part of something and that they are recognized. Celebrating collective successes helps create a sense of belonging and increases employees’ attachment to the workplace. Group achievements can also build solidarity in teams and decrease employee burnout.

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