Can Corporate Team Building Exercise Solve Society’s Loneliness Epidemic?

lonely young manSocial media is making young people more isolated and ultimately, less social. Can team building workshops provide a lifeline?

When we hear the term ‘loneliness epidemic’, many people instantly think about old people who have perhaps been widowed and don’t get out much due to mobility problems. But actually, the demographic that is particularly affected by loneliness are those aged between 18 and 34. A reliance on social media, with a feeling to portray an idealised version of your life online and interact with faceless ‘friends’, can lead to tech-savvy youngsters withdrawing from society and experiencing isolation that can ultimately lead to anxiety and depression.

A lack of understanding about how much loneliness can affect young people, means that mental health services are not accessed as frequently by this age group as they could be. An information manager at the mental health charity, Mind, explains “Loneliness is a recognised problem among the elderly – there are day centres and charities to help them, but when young people reach 21 they’re too old for youth services.”

There are many services across Essex that tackle loneliness, such as Living Well Essex, and Age UK Essex, but there is little help for the younger generations.

How Does Loneliness Affect The Workplace?

As well as the devastating consequences that loneliness can cause to an individual’s personal life, there is also a negative impact witnessed in the workplace. It may be surprising to an outsider that some of the busiest office buildings, filled with thousands of employees can be some of the most isolating environments for young people to work in.

Whether it’s a case of your face not fitting, feeling much younger and inexperienced than your colleagues, or just not being given an opportunity to get to know those around you, loneliness in the corporate world is a huge problem, not just to the individual worker but also to the business.

Research conducted in 2011 by California State University and Wharton School found that “An employee’s work loneliness triggers emotional withdrawal from their organisation…. The results also show that co-workers can recognise this loneliness and see it hindering team member effectiveness.”

Combatting Loneliness Through Teambuilding

Problem-solving, leadership development and increased engagement are some of the frequently touted benefits of teambuilding activities. All are extremely advantageous to any corporation who is willing to invest in their employees. Yet, some of the lesser mentioned gains are the social aspects of activities provided by the likes of Zing Events team building company, such as in sporting challenges, quizzes, and treasure hunts. The opportunity to leave the formal office environment and spend time with colleagues without stiff barriers being in place, allows some of the quietest and loneliest team members to come out of their shells.

By meeting fellow team members, or even senior management and interacting on an equal footing for the day, this gives everyone the chance to get to know each other, share a few laughs and respect each other’s hidden skills. Better still, discovering more about your work colleagues allows relationships and communication to flow better long after the team-building event has finished.

Currently, team building events are usually attended by corporate firms who are looking to strengthen their internal teams, but hopefully mental health charities will realise the benefit of offering similar events to help people bond and combat the rise of loneliness in our younger generations.

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