3 steps to tackle workplace loneliness
The cost of loneliness and isolation
Workplace loneliness has become a serious issue, having destructive consequences for employee engagement, wellbeing and job performance1 and therefore the bottom line.
Feeling lonely and isolated at work disables the sense of perspective colleagues can bring to negative situations. Those caught in the grip of negativity are more likely to become myopic and obsessed with details beyond their control, creating a vicious spiral of negativity, furthering their sense of isolation, reducing their resilience and ultimately their performance.
Loneliness and Mental Health
Internet, virtual teams, co-located teams, increased competition and flexible working patterns can increase loneliness at work3.
A lack of social relationships, or negative workplace relationships has been linked to anxiety, depression, mental disorder and even suicide3. Young workers straight out of college of university, as well as those who have relocated to new areas for work are often the most vulnerable to feeling lonely and isolated.
Social exchanges at work are key in reducing the negative effects of loneliness, such as lack of commitment, lower performance and poor mental wellbeing3. Encouraging staff to interact not only at a work/team level, but also socially, can reverse these effects. Coupled with high emotional intelligence and a sense of belonging to a strongly bonded team with good leadership, and you have a recipe for highly engaged staff.
Social relationships are important for health and wellbeing.
Personal relationships at work, support networks, the working environment and resilience add to overall wellbeing. Personal wellbeing is something that will soon be measured by the Office for National Statistics2.
Adults spend a large proportion of their lives at work, meaning employers have a responsibility to reduce the painful feelings of loneliness by developing strong social relationships at work and equipping staff with
Start by encouraging small things, such as walking groups at work during lunch-breaks. Being physically active collectively has a positive impact on both mental and physical health. Encourage attendance at emotional intelligence workshops to build confidence in social settings and improving interpersonal skills.
What goes around comes around! Go back to the days of team socials and away days, where team members get to know each other more, have some fun and develop a sense of commitment and belonging to the team.
Create a team mindset4 with co-created team values as a way of creating a team culture of collaboration, reducing loneliness and a improving resilience, wellbeing and productivity.
You don’t have to be David Brent. Have time for your staff. Be an authentic leader and encourage an ‘esprit de corps’.
Peng, Chen, Xia & Ran, 2017
A connected society: a strategy for tackling loneliness, 2018
Lam & Lau, 2012
Besieux, Baillien, Verbeke & Euwema, 2015