How the best leaders can acknowledge the other pandemic: Loneliness

Article by S. Mitra Kalita at Fortune

Image by Karsten Würth on Unsplash


We were already in a pandemic when COVID struck: The loneliness pandemic.

More than a year ago, 60% of Americans reported feeling lonely, left out, poorly understood or lacking companionship. It’s only gotten worse.

As companies prepare for the logistics of returning to work, the mental-health crisis of their employees looms large. Surveys show anxiety and stress affect productivity and retention; TELUS International says 80% of workers would consider leaving their current employer for one that focuses more heavily on mental health.

How can workers and managers solve for burnout and loneliness as a part of our transition to the workplace of the future? The twin pandemics are hitting workers hard, but also represent an opportunity to rethink and reconnect dynamics among teams. That’s the message of two new books on the subject.

“We are on the cusp of a reset. How often in life do we get a do-over?” asked Susan McPherson, author of The Lost Art of Connecting: The Gather, Ask, Do Method for Building Meaningful Business Relationships. “Now we have the ability to go forth knowing how important, how vitally necessary having hugs and meaningful deep conversation is, to gather in groups outside of existing family. We also know the power of technology, good and bad. We have the chance to do it right.”

Her research and that of economist Noreena Hertz , author of The Lonely Century: How to Restore Human Connection in a World That’s Pulling Apart find common ground and offer concrete, prescriptive ideas to combat loneliness.