What’s the strongest predictor of how long you’ll live and why does this matter in the workplace?

I watched this fascinating TED talk on the weekend, which tracks which indicators best predict long life.

There are the usual suspects there of course: diet, exercise, no booze..

But none of those are the key to long life.

The number one predictor by quite a bit when compared with weight/diet and exercise is “social interaction”. The degree to which we have day to day interactions with other humans – both close and tangential.

Whether we talk to the postman or the barista who makes our coffee. Whether we chat to the person who checks out our groceries, or take the time to make a bit of small chitter chatter to the receptionist at the physio.

This mirrors a lot of the work done on the Blue Zones (the countries in the world where people have the longevity and health).

Why does it matter in the workplace?

We have talked before about the research that loneliness and disconnection can kill you.

Now that flexible working and working from home is here to stay, this is something that employers need to get their heads around.

Without being sticky beaks, there needs to be a duty of care to employees who are working from home, particularly where that is now full-time. Emails/texts/messaging are all fine – but they doesn’t necessarily tick the social connection box.

The TakeAway

As a leader – are you doing enough to check on your team? Do you know how they are doing; REALLY doing? And remember just because you “don’t need it”, doesn’t mean that others don’t.

I heard that we are in the same boat.

But it’s not like that.
We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat.
Your ship can be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa.

For some, quarantine is optimal: a moment of reflection, of re- connection.
For others, this is a desperate crisis.
For others it is facing loneliness.
For some, a peace, rest time, vacation.
Yet for others, Torture: How am I going to pay my bills? Some were concerned about a brand of chocolate for Easter. Others were concerned about the bread for the weekend, or if the noodles would last for a few more days.

Some were in their “home office”.
Others are looking through trash to survive.
Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it, some are not sure their loved ones are going to make it, and some don’t even believe this is a big deal. Some of us who are well now may end up experiencing it, and some believe they are infallible and will be blown away if or when this hits someone they know.

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Connection is SO important. As we are getting ready for the week ahead – ask what you can do to be someone’s connection this week. Whether that’s a smile, a genuine conversation or something more substantial- this stuff matters. Now, more than ever.

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