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Bethany Ainsley

Bethany Ainsley, Wellbeing Specialist

Tackling Loneliness in the Workplace.

Loneliness in the workplace is not only detrimental to the individual but it also has a huge organisational impact.

Loneliness is very closely linked to an individual’s mental health. The impact of loneliness on mental health symptoms can therefore play havoc on an individual and their work. It can affect anyone, and even the most extroverted of employees can begin to withdraw from social interactions.

1 in 4 workers who feel lonely quit their job.
And those who are lonely have, on average, 5 sick days a year because of it.

The statistics used within this blog post have been taken from a totaljobs, who recently investigated the impact of loneliness on employees.

Why do people feel lonely?

44% of workers that feel lonely believe this is due to the pressure they are under, closely followed by not feeling like they fit in (44%). Other reasons included isolating themselves, not knowing anyone and facing discrimination.

What impact does this have?

68% of those who feel lonely at work said it had increased their stress levels. Research has shown that two-thirds of the employees who feel lonely also found that their confidence, self-esteem and even sleep was negatively affected. Effectively promoting wellbeing as a whole including social wellbeing can help tackle this problem. However, as a starting point try looking at the following three areas:

1. Talk about it

There is a crucial role for employers to foster a culture where people can talk honestly about their issues. It is fundamental that staff feel comfortable in speaking about problems they’re facing, both personal or professional. Opening up to a colleague can help an individual feel more relaxed about chatting to a manager. Even if they don’t want to speak about the issue at that time, they will me more aware of the support available whenever they do want to chat.

2. Encourage eating lunch away from the desk

Working at a desk often in isolation with a demanding workload can feel lonely. A good way to tackle this is to encourage employees to have lunch away from their desks in a communal area where they can interact with other colleagues. This will bring a number benefits including increased social interaction, better relationships across departments and improved work-life balance.

3. Consider office layout

The layout of an office space plays a crucial role on how employees interact with one another. While it is important that staff aren’t distracted and are able to work productively, communication is essential for healthy wellbeing. To help employees suffering with loneliness, check that no one is separated away from the team and that they are able to comfortably listen to the flow of conversation.

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