Loneliness in the workplace is a hidden enemy to both businesses and employees, affecting employee mental health and productivity, and ultimately having a negative impact on the organisation as a whole. With more people working from home, there are less opportunities for face-to-face contact with colleagues, leaving some people feeling more isolated and alone.
We’ve brought together some useful information and resources to highlight the importance of addressing loneliness and give some practical tips on tackling loneliness in the workplace.
Download our factsheetfor a snapshot on workplace loneliness and simple ideas on how to tackle it.
What is workplace loneliness?
Loneliness occurs when there is a sense of inadequacy surrounding the relationships we have. People can have others all around them, but a lack of depth and quality to relationships or a feeling that they have no one to connect to, can leave them feeling lonely. Feeling a lack of emotional attachment to anyone at work could leave employees feeling lonely.
When a recruitment firm boss from Canterbury assessed his life, he realised something was missing – friends. You can hear his story about the lack of meaningful relationships at work here.
There are key points in people’s lives when they can feel lonely, many related to employment. These include:
Starting a new job or working with new colleagues
Remote or shift working
Reduced opportunity for engagement with colleagues caused by workplace factors such as workload, new technology, or changes to the workplace layout.
Work absence (e.g. maternity/paternity leave, caring responsibilities, illness) reducing the opportunity to engage in work-based activities and interact with colleagues.
For a candid snapshot of loneliness from a young working man who struggles with feelings of loneliness, this BBC video gives an insight into how loneliness can affect someone’s mental health and day to day life.
What problems can occur due to loneliness in the workplace?
Research suggests that loneliness has a negative impact not only on employee mental health and wellbeing, but the productivity and stability of the business as a whole. According to a reportreleased by the Co-op and New Economics Foundation, the annual cost of workplace loneliness for businesses has been estimated at around £2.5 billion in the UK alone.
In his blog, Tips for Fixing Workplace Loneliness, David Turnover provides an interesting case study on the damaging effects of loneliness to individuals and the workplace as a whole, with ideas on how to tackle it.
Vantage Circle looks at the damaging effect loneliness can have on a business financially in their blog, Workplace Loneliness, labelling it as a ‘silent killer’, with some broad ideas to help prevent it.
Download ourfactsheetfor a snapshot on workplace loneliness and simple ideas on how to tackle it.
The GoodCo, have produced an introductory bloglooking at the problem of workplace loneliness with some basic ideas for employers to begin to think about the problem.
Similarly, this Workplace Lonelinessblog offers ideas for management to think about the culture and physical space of a business and how these, along with the pressure of technology, could be adding to loneliness.
Personnel Today recognise the risk to health loneliness can have and encourages employers to take action including signing the Campaign to End Loneliness pledge. The blog also offers advice on building a loneliness initiative into wider workplace practice.
The Red Cross have a range of resources on their website, including a workshop employees may find useful.
This videofrom the BBC, gives an overview of loneliness and provides a good starting point for discussion among employers and employees on the issue.
In partnership with Mind UK, the Mental Health At Workwebsite has great resources and information for employers for how to improve general wellbeing in the workforce, improving productivity and workplace culture.
The British Heart Foundation have published a Health at Work policy template, for workplaces to create a local Wellbeing at Work policy to support staff.
Community Support North Yorkshire have produced an extensive guidefor voluntary sector employers to improve wellbeing at work.
The Red Cross and Mind UKprovide a wealth of resources, tips and contacts for people feeling lonely which individuals may find helpful.
Carers UK have a Loneliness in the Workplace campaign that highlights the large loneliness problem for carers and offers a network to help people struggling.
Our fun, free and practical Staying Social, Staying Well quiz allows you to assess your risk of loneliness later in life. Primarily aimed at people who are thinking about retirement, as well as those who have recently retired, it is still relevant to people of all ages.
Whether due to Coronavirus restrictions or due to business need, working from home can have a negative impact on employees and greatly increase the risk of loneliness. The NHSand MindUKhave produced guides for helping home workers stay connected and support their own mental health.
Mind responds to a Total Jobs report suggesting that 3 in 5 people feel lonely at work in this blog and offers tips for those who may be worried about a colleague.