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Employees feeling isolated at work

More than a third (38%) have felt isolated or lonely in the workplace, including 44% of Londoners

Many workers feel lonely or isolated at work, according to research from culture consultancy Belonging Space.

The poll of 1,000 UK workers found that more than a third (38%) have felt isolated or lonely in the workplace, including 44% of Londoners.

More than a quarter (27%) of respondents said they 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%).

The issue seems to be more severe for younger workers, with 43% aged 18 to 24 claiming to have experienced loneliness at work compared with 37% of 35- to 49-year-olds.

The worst area was the east of England, where 46% of workers felt lonely. In the North West, however, just 27% of respondents reported this.

Isabel Collins, co-founder of Belonging Space, said that it's human nature to feel isolated in large impersonal groups. “Humans are a tribal species; it’s natural for people to feel a stronger sense of belonging in smaller more immediate groups,” she said. “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.”

Speaking on a separate piece of research commissioned by his company, Eric Mosley, CEO of Globoforce, emphasised the need for humans to be treated as individuals in the workplace for them to thrive, and for their employers to retain them.

“To be successful organisations need to win the hearts and minds of employees,” he said. “A more human-centric approach, where employees are treated not as human capital but as people fosters greater humanity and creates more positive employee experiences.”

Globoforce's research, the SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, found that employee retention and turnover topped the list of workforce management challenges for the second year in a row.

It suggested that while in the past workers may have tolerated a less than satisfactory experience in return for job security, today’s workers have more confidence in exploring better opportunities elsewhere.