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38% of workers experience loneliness in the workplace, research reveals

More than one-third of the UK working population (38%) has felt isolated and/or lonely in the workplace, according to research conducted by Belonging Space, in association with 3Gem Research.

The study, which polled 1000 UK workers, also explores to what extent UK workers feel a sense of belonging to their organisation and gauges whether the UK worker is experiencing ‘conflict’ or ‘collaboration’ at work.

More than a quarter (27%) of respondents do not feel a sense of belonging to their whole organisation but do feel more connected and a greater sense of belonging to their division or department (50%) and to their immediate team (51%).

Isabel Collins, co-founder of Belonging Space, said, “Humans are a tribal species; it’s natural for people to feel a stronger sense of belonging in smaller, more immediate groups. It also comes from being creatures of habit. Belonging is connected to shared practice, shared purpose, with the people we see every day.

“Companies need to work harder at creating a sense of belonging throughout, so that people find it easier to connect - to solve problems and serve clients together. A clear line of sight from shared ethos connects people across team, division, region and the whole company.”

The survey has revealed that 38% of the UK workforce has felt isolated and lonely at work - with people’s experiences of loneliness affected by both age and geographical location.

Almost half of UK workers aged 18 - 24 (43%) have experienced loneliness at work compared to 37% of 35 - 49 year olds with only just over one-third of workers who are 50+ citing any experience of isolation or loneliness.

Collins added, “It was a surprise to see a higher figure in the younger generation who have a greater facility for connection than ever before, yet their experience is more disconnection. It suggests a challenge for business is building community between teams, the human connections that form the glue.”

If you are hoping for a work experience with the least likelihood of experiencing isolation - then head to the North West. Only 27% of workers have experienced loneliness compared to 44% of workers in London and 46% in the East of England.

The survey has revealed that 40% of the UK workforce experiences a working environment that is a combination of both conflict and collaboration. However, only 26% of younger workers (18 - 24) agree with this with over half (57%) citing the overriding work atmosphere as one of ‘strong collaboration’.

For people seeking a harmonious work environment - head to Wales. Only 29% of workers surveyed cited the potentially volatile scenario of conflict and collaboration with over half (56%) identifying an atmosphere of positivity and collaboration. This was in stark contrast to workers in Yorkshire and Scotland – with 49% citing a combination of conflict and collaboration.

Collins commented, “Wales has long-standing close-communities, often built on single industries with tight teamwork. This finding is just one insight into why belonging matters. It’s these greater bonds of culture that will enable the sharing of ideas and problems and accelerate business growth. Surely something we all need at the moment in British business.

“At the heart of belonging is ethos: a shared sense of purpose and something to believe in. This is a binding force through difficult times, as well as a source of pride that becomes a reason to stay loyal to a business.

“As companies consider the impact of Brexit, in a world of increasing force of isolationism (even xenophobia) it may be beguiling for Business Units to retreat to the sameness of ‘my tribe’. This risks groupthink, rather than attracting the range of talent necessary to grow the business.

“As economic pressures continue, and the ‘war for talent’ gets tougher, it is little wonder that culture tops the agenda for most companies’ Board of Directors in 2017. Business is finally waking up to the importance of belonging.”

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

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