"Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity," he wrote. "But we haven't focused nearly as much effort on strengthening connections between people as we have on curbing tobacco use or obesity."
In the workplace, if employees feel isolated and alone, survey results show that they are more likely to perform poorly on the job, quit their jobs and feel less satisfied in their careers. This can cost employers $3.5 billion in lost productivity.
For many workers, loneliness is linked to a lack of support and social interaction. To help, experts say employers should find ways to make work feel more meaningful to each staff member. For example, rather than focusing on an individual win or accomplishment, company leaders should celebrate the entire team and show how everyone is working towards a common goal. When feel like they have a sense of shared meaning, the likelihood for a worker to earn a raise reportedly increased by 30 percent. Similarly, the intent to leave a job fell by 24 percent.
Career expert and founder of Google's mentorship program Jenny Blake tells CNBC Make It that if you want to take matters into your own hands to achieve workplace happiness then you can start by making time for one-on-one conversations with your colleagues and boss, or by having follow-up meetings to any tasks you are assigned. She also adds that sharing personal anecdotes that are appropriate for the office can go a long way when fostering these connections.
But if putting forth these efforts still leave you feeling lonely, then maybe it's time to consider a career change. According to HBR, occupations that involve a lot of social interactions like social work, marketing and sales, have some of the least lonely workers today.
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