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Loneliness in the workplace - What is it?

9 May 2022

May 9th -15th is International Mental Health Awareness Week. It may come as no surprise that this year’s official theme is ‘loneliness’. However, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, three in five employees reported feeling lonely at work (Total Jobs, 2020). As many of us return to work, loneliness levels in the UK are expected to be much higher with a devastating impact on our physical and mental health.

Here at Reed Wellbeing employee wellbeing is at the top of our priorities, so we have come up with some practical steps you can take to address loneliness in the workplace.

Reed Wellbeing Top Tips to combat loneliness in the workplace

  • Wear green! It’s not too late to join in raising awareness about loneliness and mental health this week by encouraging staff to wear green at work. Green is the official colour of international mental health awareness week, there are lots of fun and free ways to get involved!
  • Ensure that loneliness awareness is part of your wider employee wellbeing strategy and that it’s fully embedded at an organisational level within policies. RW have lots of resources and advice to support with this.
  • Identify a “champion”. A dedicated employee who is trained in wellbeing and loneliness is a great point of contact for individuals who may feel unable to approach a manager about difficulties in the workplace.
  • Create a staff network that brings together individuals with shared interests or concerns. This could include Carers, LGBTQ+, new parents, 50+, BAME etc. Setting up a professional network for employees to engage with peers can be a great way of helping to build relationships and combat loneliness in the workplace.
  • Utilise lunch breaks. Whether your team is operating remotely or in offices, organising team events such as discussing meal prep, having a lunch theme, or sitting together during breaks promotes engagement and team building.
  • Prioritise learning and training. When employees feel supported to progress they are more likely to feel motivated and show better engagement with their work. This does not have to be role specific, and it’s proven that just 1 hour of learning each week promotes positive wellbeing.
  • Hobby/Skill sharing. Within every workplace will be a wealth of skills and experience. Encourage employees to share these by creating a short introduction or ‘taster’ session which will enable them to build connections with others and potentially re-engage with something they previously enjoyed.

Do you need urgent help?

If your mental or emotional state quickly gets worse, or you're worried about someone you know seek help.

You're not alone; talk to someone you trust.