ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE
Why face-to-face time is more important than Face Time.
Technology and social media have given us more ways than ever to network, connect and communicate. Sadly, these tools have also contributed to a modern-day epidemic of loneliness and isolation.
Americans spend only 39 minutes a day in face-to-face conversation but
watch nearly three hours of TV, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics. Younger generations are lonelier than older generations,
according to a survey from Virgin Pulse, a workplace technology
company. Even at work, nearly 4 in 10 people say they’re lonely. That
takes a human toll, but there’s also a business cost. Lonely employees
are likely to be less productive and less committed to the company.
New York Times best-selling author Dan Schawbel wants to help
professionals reclaim their humanity and build deeper relationships. The
researcher and workplace-trends expert explores that topic in his new
book, Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the
Age of Isolation (DaCapo Long Life, 2018).
How are technology and social
media affecting workers’ personal
They have created the illusion of
connection. But the reality is we feel
more disconnected and isolated, and
lonelier than ever. And our dependency on technology is increasing.
We need to be in control of that. Use
your electronic calendar to schedule
conference rooms and guide you to
meetings, but be present when you’re
there and use that time to develop
strong team relationships. We need
to use technology as a bridge instead
of a barrier to human connection.
Everyone is guilty of overusing
technology, and the more you use
it, the more you create a habit. The
biggest thing that gets in the way of
in-person communication is e-mail.
We use technology as a crutch
because it’s so convenient, but it’s a
How can HR professionals make the
hiring process more human?
Hire for personality; train for skill.
Hire people who are likable, open to
feedback, easy to get along with, and
who have a positive attitude and good
teamwork skills. I also advocate for
in-person interviews so you can see
people’s body language and how they
handle themselves. Video and phone
interviews can never replace that.
Besides, using technology to interview
is rife with complications. Once, I lost
reception during a Skype job
interview and immediately
got rejected for the position,
even though I was quali;ed.
Using tech might be easier,
but it’s a horrible way to
make a ;nal decision about
work be eliminated to
No, but there
What can HR and other business
in-person contacts. Everyone talks
about the positive aspects of telecom-
muting—the freedom and ;exibility—
but the negative side is the isolation.
Over one-third of employees work
remotely at least some of the time but,
of those employees, two-thirds are
disengaged when they are physically
at the workplace. The strength of their
relationships and their commitment
to the company are weaker. While
it’s great to have freedom, it comes at
a cost that isn’t often discussed. The
human connection matters.
leaders do to encourage meaning-
ful personal connections?
They can help build connections
through team-building activities,
social events and “workcations”—
working from a di;erent city, away
from the normal site. They should
encourage team members to attend
conferences and trade shows togeth-
er, because a shared learning
culture increases loyalty and
decreases turnover. Leaders
need to get to know their
employees on a personal
level. When people feel like
they belong to a team that
supports their personal needs,
they are naturally
to the organiza-
Wixom, Mich. PH