Guest blog by Howden.
Loneliness is a hugely relevant topic because in the UK, nine million people are suffering from loneliness – and this does not include 1.2 million chronically lonely older people.
So, how does loneliness impact wellbeing, how can it impact a business, and how can you support employees who are suffering from it?
The impact of loneliness on wellbeing
According to the charity Campaign to End Loneliness, loneliness can be seen as one of the greatest health concerns we face.
The symptoms of loneliness can include emotional withdrawal, feelings of self-doubt and insecurity, anxiety, sleep disturbances and depression. According to some scientists, the health risks are even higher than those associated with obesity.
The risk to businesses
Loneliness bears significant financial risks for businesses. One estimate puts the cost to businesses at £2.5 billion every year. Staff turnover accounts for £1.6 billion (64 per cent) of this, while lower productivity carries costs of £665 million (26 per cent.)
People experiencing loneliness can feel disengaged and disconnected from their work and colleagues. This can cause them to become emotionally detached from the business.
What support can employers put in place?
Our seven top tips below offer a useful checklist to ensure you have adequate support in place for employees living with loneliness.
1. Communicate and raise awareness
Managers and HR teams should create space for employees to talk about their wellbeing by checking in regularly, even if it’s on a video call. Informal conversations can help them feel more comfortable about opening up.
2. Facilitate workplace socialising
People with social connections at work tend to be more engaged and loyal employees because these relationships help to build a company culture based on trust and respect. This creates social cohesion at work, facilitating more teamwork, creativity and collaboration.
3. Create opportunities for employees to connect
Managers can ensure there are plenty of opportunities for people to build relationships by:
Facilitating quizzes, group calls or even exercise classes for remote employees
Assign work buddies or mentors who can listen to work and non-work-related issues
Provide team lunches where employees can socialise outside of the workplace setting
4. Support for your managers
If managers are to take greater responsibility for safeguarding mental health in the workplace, it is vital that they are prepared with proper training.
5. Encourage employees to use the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
EAPs provide around-the-clock confidential support for a wide range of problems employees might be facing.
Employees can get advice, information, and counselling for anything from mental health, relationship problems and stress issues to childcare, debt, and legal worries.
As well as helping employers to meet their duty of care to employees, EAPs are popular because they are affordable and easy to put in place.
6. Supporting employees with care responsibilities
According to research by Carers UK, pre-pandemic, every day 600 people in the UK were giving up work to care for a loved one. Offering flexible working arrangements can help people balance these responsibilities.
7. Signpost to charities
Signposting means making people aware of available support. It is most effective when combined with interventions such as workshops.
Charities that can support lonely people include:
Mind and The Samaritans, which both have helplines providing non-judgemental support and advice
The Mix, which supports people aged 13-25
The Silver Line and Age UK which supports older people
WAY and other specific charities that can help people with grief and bereavement
We’re here to help
Do you need effective solutions to support your employees’ health and wellbeing? Contact Katy Lyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0203 553 8340