Young people aren't feeling the love at work, and it's not because they don't get along with their bosses—they just feel lonelier in the office than older people do. The Wall Street Journal reports on a "Loneliness Index" released by health insurer Cigna on Thursday that looks at loneliness overall in the US, as well as at loneliness specifically in the workplace, where feeling disconnected from others leads to lower productivity and less engagement, per a press release. Based on a 20-question survey of more than 10,400 people, researchers found that more than four-fifths of at-work Generation Z members—current 18- to 22-year-olds—and nearly 70% of working millennials (ranging in age from 23 to 37) are lonely.
Older generations, meanwhile, don't feel as alienated or distant from their colleagues. Gen Xers and boomers also find their jobs to be more meaningful than their younger counterparts, and don't have as much friction between their values and the company's. Douglas Nemecek, Cigna's top behavioral health specialist, tells the Journal that part of that feeling of disconnect that's plaguing younger workers might have something to do with how much they use texts and emails to communicate, rather than choosing to phone someone or talk to them in person. The Cigna survey also found that almost 75% of heavy users of social media felt lonely, compared to 52% of light social-media users. "Having a thousand friends on Facebook and Twitter does not necessarily help us to feel more connected," Nemecek says. (Read more workplace stories.)