TradeBriefs Editorial

From the Editor's Desk

Why It's So Lonely at the Top

Work friendships are crucial to happiness. What happens when you can't make them?

"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown"

This is the most famous line in William Shakespeare's play Henry IV, Part 2, spoken by the titular 15th-century English king. He is tired, sick, sad, and alone in his misery. His remark expresses the persistent idea that leaders tend to be isolated and lonely.

Modern research supports this claim. It's not that leaders are more likely than others to say they are lonely people in general, but isolation and loneliness at work are a special source of unhappiness for people at the top.

Friendship at work is crucial to happiness for most people. Among employees and managers studied by the human-resource advisory firm Future Workplace and the workplace-wellness company Virgin Pulse, more than 90 percent said they have friends from work, 70 percent said friendship at work is the most important element to a happy work life, and 58 percent said they would turn down a higher-paying job if it meant not getting along with co-workers. According to a proprietary data analysis by Gallup conducted this month, employees who say they have a "best friend" at work are almost twice as likely as others to enjoy their workday, and almost 50 percent more likely to report high social well-being.

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