The Impact of Loneliness in the Workplace - Mental Health Awareness Month 2022

Updated: May 4

This month is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the theme is loneliness. Whilst loneliness might not affect everyone, it can affect employees in your workplace. A recent study found that in the UK it is estimated that around "33% of people said they felt lonely “often, always, or some of the time” since the start of the pandemic".*¹


Here at The Work Perk, we are working to destigmatise the negative connotations linked to loneliness in the workplace by providing employee rewards to help break down barriers between members of staff.


Did you know that "the cost of loneliness to UK employers has been estimated to be £2.5 billion every year"? *² With that in mind, it is imperative that all of society takes action towards tackling loneliness in the workplace.


But how does loneliness relate to mental health?


Loneliness in the workplace can make employees feel stressed, low in mood and therefore means that their production levels aren’t as high as they should or could be. Whilst loneliness doesn’t automatically mean that someone has a mental illness, it will contribute to underlying issues that someone might be feeling.


“One in six British workers are affected by mental health problems like anxiety, depression and stress every year.” *³



What to look out for in staff that might be feeling lonely in the workplace:

  • Staff being withdrawn or quiet.

  • Lateness.

  • Less productive.

  • Feeling overwhelmed with the workload.

  • Missing deadlines.

  • Not having lunch.


What can employers do to combat loneliness in the workplace?


How your employees are feeling might not always be on the forefront of your mind when running a business, so it is easy to forget. However, there are a number of different things that you can do as an employer to help if you see someone that is maybe a bit more withdrawn.


  1. Offer to have lunch with them.

  2. Make sure they are included in office chit-chat.

  3. Arrange team-building activities for staff members to get to know each other.

  4. Identify what matters to employees - Conducting regular employee wellbeing surveys can really help to gauge how your workplace feels. Most of the time this information might never be brought up to management directly.

  5. Create wellbeing ‘champions’ - Staff who are trained to deal with people that might be feeling lonely and fellow colleagues can confide in the ‘champion’ if they don’t feel like going to a senior member of staff.


Where you can go to get help if you are an employee suffering from loneliness at work:


  • NHS website - Understand loneliness and take a quiz to better monitor your mood.

  • Sense - Aims to help people with complex disabilities.

  • Eden Project Communities - Builds a community by encouraging people to make a change in their local area to combat loneliness.

  • Frindow - A central hub to help make new friends at all stages of your life.

  • Ladies Circle - A club for women aged 18-45 to make new friends, try new things and more. For Great Britain and Ireland.

  • Men’s Shed Association - A place for men to make new friends, enjoy making and mending things or sharing new skills and knowledge.

  • Let’s Talk Loneliness - A useful site to provide tips and support for anyone feeling lonely at any age.



We hope you find these tips to tackle loneliness in your workplace helpful! Let us know your thoughts or any methods you use in your workplace.

Head to The Work Perk Companies Page to register your work office for free to help increase conversation in the workplace, boost employee mood, and create a strategy to combat loneliness in your workplace today!




References:
  1. https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/ct/news/documents/2021-03/global_perceptions_of_the_impact_of_covid-19.pdf

  2. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/employers-and-loneliness/employers-and-loneliness

  3. https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/4659/how-to-implement-the-thriving-at-work-mental-health-standards-final-guide-online.pdf