Loneliness and isolation is a global problem

Published by: LifeWorks,

One of the main contributors to stress today is an increased feeling of workplace isolation – the state of feeling alone and without friends, support or help. This was one of the main findings of research released at Employers Connect, Morneau Shepell’s 8th annual summit on workplace mental health, this week.

According to the research, approximately one in six employees responding to the Canadian survey reported a high to extreme feeling of isolation at work during the previous six months, with one in four employees (23 per cent) and managers (24 per cent) reporting increased feelings of isolation at work when compared to five years ago.

This is concerning because 64 per cent of employees and 73 per cent of managers reporting a high level of workplace isolation are more likely to say they also have a high level of workplace stress, the study found.

According to Paula Allen, VP of Research, Analytics and Innovation, Morneau Shepell, isolation comes from a number of different factors and is a global problem.

“We as a society have increased isolation, and it’s not just in Canada. The UK has appointed a Minister for Loneliness because it’s such a big public health issue,” Allen said.

“The fact that people are living alone and cohabiting and marrying much later in life, as well as the pace of life, is creating a situation of isolation in society,” she added.

With the prevalence of mobile connectivity and the rise in remote and virtual workers, there are some suggestions that technology is contributing to the isolation epidemic. But Allen believes that, used correctly, technology can actually bring people closer together.

“People haven’t fully adapted to technology, because what we find is that technology can make people feel less isolated if used effectively. You have tools to give recognition and tools for video conferencing – these can bring people together even in these diffused workplaces. But for this to happen, people need the skills and the know how in order to leverage what’s in front of us right now.”

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