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Loneliness in the workplace is on the rise

Alan Price, CEO - BrightHR

The theme of the national awareness event this year is loneliness. Without meaningful connection to other people and communities, loneliness can have devastating impacts to both physical and mental health.

And sadly, the number of people in the UK experiencing loneliness is only growing, thanks to the impact of a global pandemic where isolation and distancing were common elements.

Over a third of remote and hybrid workers have said they experienced loneliness because of their working arrangement.

So, is there anything employers can do to help tackle loneliness amongst their staff?

Alan Price, CEO of BrightHR, says: “It’s important for employers to regularly check-in with their remote workforce, to ensure their needs are met and see if further support is needed. Adjustments should be made for employees who raise concerns, such as the offer for them to come into the office to meet/socialise with other team members; amendments to working hours or duties; or more regular wellbeing meetings.

“Arranging social events and activities – both in person and virtually – can be a great way to develop camaraderie amongst teams and alleviate any feeling of isolation or exclusion.

“In recent years, businesses have become more aware and understanding of the importance of having a culture of open communication and compassion. The Covid pandemic heightened employers’ responsibilities to adequately care for their employees’ mental health and emotional wellbeing. Those who failed to put effective measures in place suffered from high staff turnover and increased burnout-related absences, due to their people feeling overwhelmed and undervalued.

“However, more can still be done.”

And it is not just those who work from home that can feel the devastating impact of loneliness.

Price adds: “Introducing mental health first aiders and providing empathy and emotional intelligence training to managers can be a great first step in breaking the stigma associated with mental health, including for those suffering with loneliness and isolation.

“Similarly, employers should proactively develop initiatives to encourage open communication and non-judgemental discussion platforms. This includes the provision of robust policies and procedures and a zero-tolerance stance against any bullying, discrimination, or harassment.”

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