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189: The Impact of Employee Loneliness with Hakan Ozcelik, Professor at California State University, Sacramento

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With the increased need for social distancing, working from home, and quarantining, loneliness has become even more of a hot topic than it was before COVID-19. Today’s guest, Hakan Ozcelik, walks us through his most recent research study on loneliness and the impact on employees, teams, and the organization as a whole.

Hakan is a professor of management at California State University, Sacramento. With a Ph.D. in organizational behavior, he has published his research on many topics including workplace loneliness and organizational neuroscience in countless prestigious outlets such as the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the New York Times to name a few.

In this episode, Hakan defines loneliness and how it differentiates from things like depression and physically being alone. He discusses his research, No Employee An Island, touching on both the design and the project’s findings. 

Hakan reveals the impact of his research findings on team performance, as well as intervention strategies that managers can employ. Finally, Hakan leaves us with a few tangible tips on how to apply this research in our own organizations.

Interview Highlights (with timestamps):
  • [6:23] Defining loneliness and common misconceptions
  • [12:32] Loneliness as related to working from home
  • [14:30] Regulatory Model of Loneliness and Affect Theory of Social Exchange
  • [22:20] Attributes of people who are more prone to loneliness
  • [24:57] Hakan’s research No Employee an Island and his findings
  • [32:18] The impact of these research findings on team performance
  • [35:25] How the emotional cultures of the workplace impact loneliness
  • [42:46] Common intervention strategies to combat loneliness in employees
  • [53:51] Hakan’s actionable steps
Mentioned in this episode:
Full Bio:

Hakan Ozcelik is a Professor of Management at the California State University, Sacramento. He received his Ph.D. in organizational behavior from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He holds a double‐major degree in Management and Political Science, and an MBA from Bosphorus University, in Istanbul, Turkey.

He studies emotions in organizational life, focusing on topics such as workplace loneliness, discrete emotions, surface acting, leadership, emotional climate, decision making, cross-cultural communication, organizational neuroscience, and utilizing film-making to analyze workplace emotions. He created the Annual CBA Film Festival program, where he has recently organized a scholarly studio event to explore how different leadership styles can enhance managers’ capacity to combat workplace loneliness.

He also leads the interdisciplinary  CBA Organizational Wisdom Studio , which aims to create a platform to generate wisdom for pursuing happier organizational experiences in our society with live studio events, Work-Life Wisdom Video-casts , and workshops. He is keen on connecting with others (e-mail: to join efforts in new projects to continue exploring organizational wisdom.

Professor Ozcelik has published his research in prestigious academic outlets such as Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Journal of Managerial Psychology, International Journal of Human Resource Management, Personnel Review, and Research on Emotion in Organizations. Some of this research has been featured in popular media outlets such as New York Times, The Guardian, Fortune Magazine, Harvard Business Review, The Washington Post, Society for Human Resource’s Magazine, CNN, Wharton Business Radio, Fox TV, Forbes, KCRA, Comstock’s Magazine, and Bloomberg.

He also provides consulting for private and public organizations to help them improve their management teams’ emotional competency and intelligence by utilizing a method that blends sociodrama techniques, emotions research, and improvisation.

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