We maybbelieve the pandemic is behind us, but the isolation and separation we all experienced during that period highlighted our need for connection. It also gave birth to the more people working from home, whether they made the decision to leave the workforce or employers realized there is no longer a pressing need for their workforce to travel to the office. This has changed people’s lives, as well as the life of the organization. People may have more choices about whether to travel to the office, work remotely, or take on a position that offers a hybrid of the two. As a matter of fact, recent research indicates that as young adults approach middle age, and especially women, the ability to work remotely from home ranks higher than compensation in what determines their level of happiness with their job.
More people working from home has given birth to the popularity of zoom meetings. I know for myself, I’ve come to prefer zoom to phone calls. The face to face lends so much more to the conversation.
However, while the zoom calls offer face to face conversations, it still lacks real personal connection.
There is fallout from the above. Workers are expressing that they feel isolated from their coworkers and managers alike. What they found is they actually crave connection with their colleagues. Research bears out that workers who have significant close companions, or friends, at work have a positive impact on a person’s professional life.
This is supported by research which indicates that:
76% of workers who have close friends at work say they are more likely to stay with their employer
80% say that having friends at work gives them a sense of belonging to the organization
85% said friends at work had a positive impact on their career
We’ve all come to know that loneliness can be stressful and can lead to depression. In the work environment, it can lead to dissatisfaction, burnout, and mental health challenges. According to research from Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. and California State University, loneliness can also lead to lack of commitment to whatever task is in front of you which of course affects performance.
Knowing that employees need, actually crave connections and relationships with their coworkers, organizational leadership can do address this issue by creating a culture of connection. A culture that is empathetic, kind, and supports collaboration and relationship building over competition. It also must understand that rewarding or tolerating toxic behavior leads to dissatisfaction, resentment, frustration, apathy and contributes to workers leaving their positions.
For me this is especially relevant in the long term industry.
Healthcare workers not only need connections, friendship, and collegial support, it is crucial for them to know that leadership understands, and is empathetic towards, their needs. While lip service may be paid to this fact, on a personal level I’ve found a complete lack of it in that culture. A fact that to me is completely antithetical to the notion that it is a “taking care of people” business.
According to a survey conducted by Airspeed and reported in an article in SHRM, concerns about employee loneliness has reached the level of C-Suite. Two out of three executives reported that they believe their employees will leave their jobs because they feel disconnected. The lack of connection and culture has not escaped the notice of more than 90 percent of these executives. This is true in the office but also for remote workers; more than 70 percent of workers don’t feel like they are able to socialize enough when working remotely.
Relationships are so important to each and every one of us.
How can we connect with others if we are not connected to ourselves.
People can feel alone even when surrounded by others.
Whether or not leadership understands or provides opportunities or a culture that creates relationship building, what can we do as individuals to help in our day-to-day interactions.
We can make others feel like they are cared about by increasing our empathy quotient. In doing so, our connection meter will increase, and so will our friendship. What does that entail?
Some key elements:
1. Be present when listening
2. Convey caring and interest but also develop a true caring heart
3. Refrain from the tendency to judge
4. Recognizing and acknowledging the emotions another person
5. Communicating and understanding the other person’s emotions
I would posit that empathy towards others begins with empathy towards yourself – I call this IMpathy® the inner game of empathy.
Understanding and caring for ourselves, refraining from self-criticism and judgement, treating ourselves like our own best friend, these are all elements of IMPathy® that can help us in our relationship with others.
While the above is related to the workforce, the statistics support the the precept that having friends matters.
I challenge you to remember that not only in your immediate circle, but in your communities. Seek out and reach out to people who may be alone. Lend a helping hand. Acts of Kindness has a twofold purpose. According to Sonja Lyubomirsky. It not only conveys caring to the receiver, but it boosts one’s own mood, feeling of purpose, and level of happiness.
To find out more about The IMpathy® Project, how it can help you and your organization email: firstname.lastname@example.org