Did you know loneliness in the workplace is on the rise? According to Cigna’s recent 2020 Loneliness Index, three in five Americans (61%) report that they are lonely. Because loneliness happens both at home and at work, organizations should be paying closer attention to employee wellbeing.

Additional findings from the Cigna research also reveal:

  • Lonely workers say they are less engaged, less productive and report lower retention rates
  • They are 2x as likely to miss a day of work due to illness and 5x more likely to miss work due to stress
  • 12% of lonely workers say they believe their work is lower quality than it should be
  • Lonely workers say they think about quitting their job more than 2x as often as non-lonely workers
  • Remote workers are more likely than non-remote workers to always or sometimes feel alone

“Loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity,” according to Douglas Nemecek, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for Behavioral Health at Cigna.

Your workspace is an opportunity to exemplify your brand, support desired behaviors and build culture—all of which impact a healthier workplace and, as a result, stronger bottom line. When your people feel “at home” and connected at work, your organization can improve employee wellbeing, including productivity, production, and positivity.

Two-fold approach

There’s no one-size-fits-all method towards solving concerns as serious as loneliness in the workplace, but leaders can take a multi-prong approach for a better working environment.

Not sure where to start in your organization? Consider both your internal and physical wellbeing and ask yourself the following questions:

Internally:

  • Does your purpose connect with your people?
  • When was the last time your purpose & mission refreshed?
  • Do your employees have any voice in shaping your purpose?
  • Are employees rewarded based on following your purpose?
  • Do you hold company events or team lunches to give employees an opportunity to socialize outside of the office?

For example, Red Thread’s core values were recently refreshed based on an employee survey all offices participated in. As a result, we’re building more momentum and employee wellbeing around our “4 Cs”: connected, collaborative, committed, and creative.

Physically:

  • Do you have a variety of spaces for employees to work throughout the day?
    • Socialize, focus, collaborate
  • Have you incorporated ancillary furniture into your space to provide a comfortable and inviting environment?
  • Is biophilic design part your space design, bringing nature indoors?
  • Do you utilize glass walls to provide transparency and visual openness to the outside and one another?
  • Do you provide the latest technology and tools to support work and connectivity for remote workers?
  • How are you supporting physical wellbeing throughout the day with different postures?

While we’re constantly changing our working showrooms across New England, our Boston WorkLife was designed to promote physical, social and employee wellbeing, with great applications and technologies like the Steelcase Flex Collection, our Work Café, and Microsoft Surface Hub 2S.

Office furniture within our Boston WorkCafe to increase employee wellbeing

Employee engagement

The key here is engaging your own employees. Run an internal poll, listen to survey feedback, form employee lead sub-committees to give workers a voice. By inviting participation to help transform or refresh your space and culture, you’re enhancing employee wellbeing by allowing them to make an impact and feel part of team.

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