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Loneliness in the (Remote) Workplace

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In the April 2020 article “Dealing With Social Isolation,” the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) states, “Leaders have a responsibility to help mitigate workplace isolation. They need to prioritize social connections in these unprecedented times of social distancing and remote work.” How serious is the problem of social isolation during COVID19? Respondents to our own Property/Casualty Insurance Industry Coronavirus reader survey identified isolation from co-workers and staff as the most noted challenge of working from home (41%). For companies that are considering remote work as an extended or permanent employment strategy, the well-being of some employees – whether due to personality type or home working conditions – may be at risk.

Two years ago, the Center for Workplace Health posted a blog “Loneliness in the Workplace Can Be a High Cost For Employers.” Warning of the cost of isolation and loneliness, former United States Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.Sc. outlined:

  • how technology that allows for flexible and remote work contributes to isolation
  • the link between isolation, loneliness and health problems
  • how a corporate culture of isolation and loneliness can lead to lower productivity and higher health claims for an employer

Aligned with Dr. Murthy’s concerns, over half of our own survey respondents who experiencing isolation also noted challenge with distraction and 25% noted health issues (diet, sleep stress etc.). Taking a deeper dive into the survey responses, we found that managers were the most impacted by isolation (51%) followed by senior vice presidents (45%), underwriters (43%) and producers (39%).

To offer more insight, we’ve added Cigna’s report, Loneliness and the Workplace: 2020 U.S. Report, to our Research & Trends library. This report offers survey data on factors contributing to loneliness including:

  • Satisfaction with in-person interactions at work correlated with lower loneliness score (page 11)
  • Type of work environment impacts loneliness (Remote vs. In Person) (page 12)
  • Frequent telecommuting and dissatisfaction with remote work both breed loneliness (page 13)
  • It’s lonely at the top – and the bottom – a look at positions within an organization (page 15)

Taking the pulse of your employees is important and learning more about their needs now and into the future may alter your priorities for your workplace and culture. Haven’t surveyed your own staff yet? We can help with a customized version of our survey to meet your needs. You can share the results of our survey as a benchmark against the responses of your own employees. Learn more here.

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