May 2022
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TD Magazine

Overcome the Loneliness

SM
Monday, May 2, 2022

Connectable: How Leaders Can Move Teams From Isolated to All In
By Ryan Jenkins and Steven Van Cohen
McGraw Hill, 336 pp., $28

This book focuses on what truly matters—or should matter—for organizations: the individuals and, specifically, their mental health. When COVID-19 hit, companies were unprepared for the seemingly unreal series of events; they pivoted quickly and restructured to keep their businesses afloat. Yet in the process, many forgot to prioritize staff.

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In Connectable, Jenkins and Van Cohen note that a colossal 70 percent of global workers feel lonely—a staggering number that is on a steady climb. In addition, 94 percent of leaders say that their teams are growing lonelier while working remotely. Why does that matter? The authors argue that apart from shaving 15 years off a person's life, loneliness leads to plummeting employee productivity, loyalty, collaboration, and engagement. Hence, reducing isolation is good business, and people managers should make it a top priority.

Jenkins and Van Cohen use a mix of science, statistics, stories, and strategies to help leaders move everyone on their team from isolated to all in. Defining loneliness as the absence of connection, the authors discuss the causes of loneliness at work, the crucial role inclusion plays in solving it, and the strategies leaders can use to reduce their team members' loneliness.

They begin by identifying and discussing the "big eight modern-day loneliness contributors," which include technology and social media, remote work, always-on work, and lack of purpose. The authors note that leaders have direct control over those loneliness contributors.

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Jenkins and Van Cohen then outline strategies for identifying lonely or burned-out workers; building psychological safety within a team; creating environments of belonging and inclusion; and cultivating meaningful connections across team members (in person or remote) to build committed, driven, and high-performing companies. The strategies use the authors' proprietary four-step Less Loneliness Framework.

Cultivating a culture of belonging takes intentional—and sometimes extreme—effort, the authors point out. But that pays off with a more connected organization with improved engagement, better health, and enhanced performance at work. This is a practical handbook for all leaders and it makes a strong case for establishing significant connections at work.

SM
About the Author

Suneeta Mishra is a senior instructional design manager at Safe-Guard Products International; linkedin.com/in/suneetamishra.

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