How CFOs can overcome loneliness at work

There are many challenges that face CFOs today. Dealing with numerous complex issues, increased pressure to drive performance, the impact of rising inflation and interest rates, and workforce shortages are a few.

However, one of the biggest challenges CFOs face, that is not often talked about, is feeling lonely at work.

The impact of loneliness is far-reaching. One in two Australians reports being lonely for at least one day in a week, while one in four feel lonely for three or more days. When it comes to loneliness at work, the higher you move up the ladder, the more likely you are to feel lonely and isolated.

These feelings of isolation make us more prone to anxiety and depression, which correlate directly with workforce engagement, productivity, and profit. When it comes to absence from work, depression and anxiety are now the leading causes of long-term sickness absence and a major cause of presenteeism.

There are many factors that lead to feelings of loneliness at work, including:

  • feeling under pressure to get everything done – this is made worse if the pressure comes from an expectation that you might act in a way that goes against your values or is unethical or, in worse cases, illegal
  • feeling like you don’t belong at work
  • not having a trusted friend or colleague at work to talk to about issues that arise.

The last two years have also led to debilitating loneliness in many, especially those who combined living alone with working from home. The impact of a hybrid workforce into the future needs to be carefully considered, especially on those who crave the return to the office and the company of others.

6 ways to overcome loneliness at work

  1. Be kind to others

In his book Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World, Dr Vivek Murthy says that kindness to others is an antidote to loneliness. Being kind to others shifts the focus from us to someone else, reaffirming we have value to bring to the world.

When we perform an act of kindness, the hormone oxytocin is released our brain. Often called “the love drug”, it an important chemical for forming social bonds. Higher levels of oxytocin can regulate our emotional responses and positive social behaviours, meaning we are more likely to trust, demonstrate empathy and communicate positively.

  • Look for joy in your job

Aristotle wrote, ‘Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.’

One of the best ways to find joy at work is to understand how your role contributes to the success of the organisation, as this leads to happiness at work. Research has found that employees who believe their “company makes a positive societal contribution” and who feel “personally committed to achieving the company’s vision and strategy” experienced the most joy at work.

  • Find a work bestie

People who have a best friend at work are more likely to be happier and healthier. Having a work bestie helps you feel like you belong at work, as you will have someone to laugh with, go for coffee with and talk about the good, the bad and the ugly bits with.

  • Become a mentor

Mentoring provides an opportunity to positively influence others, share your knowledge and experience and safely admit when you don’t always get it right. It also can increase your job satisfaction, self-awareness and confidence.

  • Do something you love every day

Doing things we love should be a guiding principle for us all as it will recharge your personal batteries and increase your energy. When we do things that we love, we automatically feel happier. It can sometimes be hard to find the time to take the time to do something just for us, but it’s worth it, even if it’s only for five minutes a day.

  • Prioritise self-care

Self-care looks different for us all. For me, it’s a walk on the beach at least five times a week and reading crime fiction while sitting on my daybed with a cup of tea or a G&T. It also looks like getting enough sleep, taking regular breaks (during the day, week and year), eating the right foods and regular exercise.

Self-care also needs to include regular medical appointments to keep on top of your physical and mental health. If you haven’t been to the doctor in a while, make an appointment today to make sure that all your bits are doing what they should be doing. And if your loneliness is leading to increased anxiety or worse, your doctor will be a good place to start to get guidance and help.

About the Author

Mel Kettle is an internationally recognised expert at fully connected leadership and communication. With more than two decades of experience, Mel is a valuable asset to leaders and teams that want achieve real connection and sustained engagement. She is the founder of the award-winning menopause blog, Just as Juicy, host of podcast This Connected Life and author of two books, Fully Connected and The Social Association.

For further information visit www.melkettle.com