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According to a recent study discussed in the Harvard Business Review, lawyers are the loneliest group of workers in America. Given the legal profession's proclivity for long hours, alcoholism, and depression, most lawyers are probably thinking: I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.
The study surveyed almost 2,000 full time employees across various industries. Interestingly, the findings correlate higher education with higher levels of loneliness and suggests that: "The solitude of the ivory tower seems to be a real phenomenon." There's no doubt that professional jobs, and those that require graduate degrees, are time consuming and often require long stretches of solitary work, which naturally can lead to feeling lonely.
One of the more relevant findings of the study is that employees with an active social life including friends and family report lower levels of loneliness. While this may not be a revolutionary breakthrough, it is an important reminder that that "work-life balance" stuff for lawyers is actually important. Those long hours, and "bad," "stress-reducing" habits lawyers are prone to, leaves little time for quality interpersonal connection.
The report explains that loneliness, medically, is bad for your health. Researchers have equated loneliness to be as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, in terms of "health care outcomes" and costs. The authors explain that "the more people you have around in your private life, we found, the better for keeping loneliness at bay," then noted that childless, single/separated/divorced, atheist/agnostics, were the loneliest of all social demographics.
Another finding was that levels of loneliness do actually slightly decrease as salaries increase. However, factors like location, gender, race, ethnicity, and even tenure/job security, didn't make much of an impact at all. As the HBR report explains: it's a person's life outside of work that is really important.
One factor that the researchers noted as troubling involved a person's sexual orientation. In short, they discovered that individuals who identify in any way except heterosexual have much less support in the workplace and are more likely to experience higher levels of loneliness. The researchers explained that although there has been much progress on that front in recent years, there is still much more work to be done by society to ensure that non-heterosexual individuals feel more included.
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