Belong For Me Uses Personalized Connection to Improve Loneliness in Workplaces
On May 3, 2023, United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released a Surgeon General Advisory that called attention to the loneliness epidemic in American society. The advisory carefully facilitates a discussion around the decline in social connection, the importance of this issue, and concludes by sharing a national strategy to advance the issue. As an organization that was built with the literature around American loneliness at its foundation, we thank Dr. Murthy and his office for progressing this conversation. We appreciate their attentiveness to the needs of the American people and their very direct call-to-action.
The creation of Belong For Me was inspired by the very emotions Dr. Murthy spoke of in his advisory. Our founder, Emily Stewart, like many young people struggled to find connection after graduating from college. Transitioning from college, where social connection is actively facilitated, Emily found it difficult adjusting to the often-isolating corporate work environment. Many young people share Emily’s experience. The Surgeon General speaks to this shared experience in the advisory.
“While the highest rates of social isolation are found among older adults, young adults are almost twice as likely to report feeling lonely than those over 65.” reported Dr. Murthy.
Inspired by this loneliness, Emily later used this difficult moment as one of the inspirations for Belong For Me. While building the business in 2020, Emily found Cigna’s ground-breaking research on Loneliness in the Workplace. Similar to Dr. Murthy’s advisory and its cited research, these reports by Cigna make the convincing case for the existence of a loneliness epidemic in the United States. Furthering the conversation, Cigna suggests that this epidemic is in many ways perpetuated by a lack of interpersonal connection in the workplace. Emily resonated with this realization and positioned the issue as one of the predominant problems our organization is looking to solve. The recent advisory supports this notion, makes direct recommendations to organizations as to how they can improve social connection in their workplaces, and briefly touches on the economic benefits in doing so.
“Supportive and inclusive relationships at work are associated with employee job satisfaction, creativity, competence, and better job performance. Quality social support, social integration, and regular communication among coworkers of all levels are key in preventing chronic work stress and workplace burnout,” explained the Surgeon General.
Belong For Me was created to improve the social connection of employees in modern workplaces. We are an employer-purchased software solution that addresses the challenges of building community in the modern workplace through personalized, small group networking events. After reviewing comprehensive reports such as the ones created by Cigna and the Surgeon General, we understand the issue and believe we offer a compelling solution for any organization that wishes to work to improve the health and happiness of their employees. Not only would they be helping to reverse our society’s loneliness epidemic, but they would improve job performance, productivity, workplace burnout, and other performance metrics as a result.
At Belong For Me, we have answered the Surgeon General’s call-to-action and are using our patent-pending networking approach to improve loneliness in workplaces.
Dr. Murthy’s National Strategy to Advance Social Connection recommends workplaces do the following to advance social connection in our society:
- Make social connection a strategic priority in the workplace at all levels (administration, management, and employees).
- Train, resource, and empower leaders and managers to promote connection in the workplace and implement programs that foster connection. Assess program effectiveness, identify barriers to success, and facilitate continuous quality improvement.
- Leverage existing leadership and employee training, orientation, and wellness resources to educate the workforce about the importance of social connection for workplace well-being, health, productivity, performance, retention, and other markers of success.
- Create practices and a workplace culture that allow people to connect to one another as whole people, not just as skill sets, and that fosters inclusion and belonging.
- Put in place policies that protect workers’ ability to nurture their relationships outside work including respecting boundaries between work and non-work time, supporting caregiving responsibilities, and creating a culture of norms and practices that support these policies.
- Consider the opportunities and challenges posed by flexible work hours and arrangements (including remote, hybrid, and in-person work), which may impact workers’ abilities to connect with others both within and outside of work. Evaluate how these policies can be applied equitably across the workforce.
Belong For Me helps employers connect employees who share the same interests outside of the workplace. Our solution creates a culture around connection at all levels of the organization and acts as a tool for large employers to maximize their networking budgets.