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NextGen Magazine


Conquering Loneliness at Work

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Jul 10, 2023


Loneliness at work is one of the biggest factors derailing employee engagement and productivity and undermining organizational success. Caroline Stokes wrote in Fast Company, sharing three techniques to combat it, based on her work as an executive coach.

“Today, loneliness continues to impact workers, hurting collaboration, productivity, and innovation,” she wrote. “When productivity declines, it can negatively hinder career development and growth, which further impacts workers’ sense of achievement and accomplishment,” leading to a “doom spiral” of a “sense of aimlessness, loneliness, and disconnectedness, which can in turn further hurt teams.”

In her experience, “employees with a love of learning are more likely to be promoted.” These people want to improve continuously, actively seeking to understand and solve issues, which makes them more successful and connected to others. Yet, she wrote, economic and social challenges can make workers feel safer working in isolation, rather than connecting and learning from each other. 

To counteract those feelings, she recommended downloading an audiobook that relates to something you want to learn, asking friends for recommendations to help you find new topics of interest, meeting with a colleague in person once a week with the goal of learning from them, then repeating the process with new colleagues “until you’ve created an ecosystem of growth that you find engaging and rewarding.”

Noting that today 59 percent of Americans had not yet returned to pre-pandemic activities as of January, she advocated trying to adapt to the new normal through such methods discussing topics at work such as the future of work, AI, or climate change with your coworkers.

“[L]earning today’s new norms can improve self-esteem, help you feel connected to something greater than oneself, and make you feel more secure when meeting new people,” she wrote. 

Finally, she urged creating one’s own team of personal advisors. Focusing on personal health could help alleviate loneliness, too; seeing a therapist, getting regular medical and dental checkups, and even hiring a personal trainer are all elements that can boost one’s motivation and help one feel less alone.

“By learning from those around you, embracing new norms, and creating a team of advisers, anyone can help feel more connected at work,” she concluded. “The beauty of investing in connecting with others is that your work is likely to help those around you feel less lonely as well.”