Australia’s first Loneliness Report, released last year, showed a sense of disconnection in our society is rife with nearly 55% of Aussie adults feeling they lack companionship, at least sometimes.
In that report, 1 in 4 Australians admitted to high levels of social interaction anxiety.
The report linked loneliness with poor psychological health.
But don’t think for a moment that people who go to a workplace are immune to loneliness. Far from it, according to another study, released this week.
The Workplace Loneliness report reveals 40% of Australian workers feel lonely at work and that it is having detrimental impacts to workplace productivity and personal wellbeing.
The research highlights that 38% of lonely workers report making more mistakes and 40% of lonely workers feel less productive.
Moreover, 47% of those that are lonely are more likely to suffer poor wellbeing and 36% of lonely workers report getting sick more often.
Lead researcher Dr Lindsay McMillan said workplace leaders and HR teams needed to act on this growing epidemic with supports and programs to connect people.
Dr McMillan spoke of mentoring (read more of his comments here) and that’s great. Laughter yoga also has a proven place in bringing work colleagues together effectively.
How laughter yoga addresses workplace loneliness
Deakin University and Laughter Yoga Australia undertook a study a few years ago to see how the practice of laughter yoga, combining simulated laughter exercises and the breath of yoga, could impact workplace dynamics.
After just one session, there were measurable improvements—some by as much as 10%.
Interestingly workplace wellbeing—a sense of connection—was the most lasting impact, sustained one month after the workplace laughter yoga sessions finished.
The power of laughter had lowered individuals’ masks, it had become the great leveler: colleagues became and stayed connected.
If connection is a solution to loneliness, surely introducing laughter yoga into a workplace stands as a means of tackling the immediate issue as well as the many impacts that can manifest: high blood pressure, stress, depression, anxiety, low morale, high staff absenteeism, high staff turnover, presenteeism, low productivity…
There’s reason for the adage that laughter is good medicine: workplaces may be ready to dispense this feel-good practice for the sake of their staff and their bottomline.
(c) Heather Joy Campbell 2019
Heather Joy Campbell is Queensland’s leading facilitator of laughter wellbeing practices and a certified laughter yoga teacher, trained by the practice’s founder, Dr Madan Kataria. Brisbane-based, she delivers laughter wellbeing sessions in workplaces, aged care, and communities and trains people across Queensland to deliver the exercises themselves. She runs a weekly neighourhood laughter club as a volunteer giveback, furthering wellbeing and connection through laughter.