Women and Work

The Loneliness Epidemic and Work

Two recent studies once again demonstrate the desperate need for improving workplace relationships.

The first was published in the September 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review by the former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. Titled “Work and the Loneliness Epidemic,” the essay reports that over 40 percent of all Americans and over half of CEOs feel lonely. He adds that the high rates of loneliness in America are causing serious health problems.

“We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s,” Murthy writes. “In the workplace, new models of working — such as telecommuting and some on-demand 'gig economy' contracting arrangements — have created flexibility but often reduce the opportunities for in-person interaction and relationships. And even working at an office doesn’t guarantee meaningful connections: People sit in an office full of coworkers, even in open-plan workspaces, but everyone is staring at a computer or attending task-oriented meetings where opportunities to connect on a human level are scarce.”

Murthy argues that business leaders can and should play a vital role in changing workplace cultures as a means of combatting loneliness. This, he says, is because we spend most of our waking hours at work.

The second study reveals that 71 percent of American workers are so dissatisfied with their work that they are looking for new jobs. This survey of 17,000 people from 19 industries, conducted by the nonprofit group Mental Health America and the Faas Foundation, found that several factors are causing this problem. Chief among them was poor workplace relationships.

“. . . 44 percent believe that they are “always or often” overlooked. Sixty-four percent say their supervisors don’t give them enough support and a majority of the participants are resentful of their co-workers. So much for teamwork,” writes Washington Post journalist Gene Marks about the survey.

These studies are published at a time when our news is filled with reports of rampant sexual abuse in the workplace, making the lives of professional women a nightmare. Clearly, there is a lot of work to do to renew workplace cultures.

Global Commerce Network has published numerous articles and books about healthy relationships. These books will help you take a fresh look at the scriptural foundations for healthy relationships, and to integrate this theology with business culture.

Two GCN resources published for this purpose are titled Working Together and Why People Matter, both of which can be purchased on Amazon.