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How to tackle loneliness in the workplace

Loneliness in the workplace reached new levels during the pandemic. Lodders discuss how to help

alone in the workplace

Staying on top of your mental health by tackling loneliness can be a daunting process. At the start of Mental Health Awareness Week, the Lodders team shares some tips to guide employers and employees.

While many people work somewhere that has an excellent team spirit and collaborative working, we can all feel lonely at some point during the working week. It is important to remember that everyone can feel this at any point, and that there are ways to tackle loneliness – and stay on top of your mental health.

When the pandemic hit and most of us adapted to working from home, loneliness in the UK reached an all-time high. Humans are genetically wired to be social beings, so when we were mandated to stay inside, everyone was forced into a state of being most hadn’t experienced before. Being in an office creates a sense of comradery and spirit that is the very essence of the Lodders brand. While home working has huge benefits, it can leave people feeling very lonely.

Loneliness affects many of us at one time or another, and we know that loneliness can be both the driver for and a product of poor mental health.

It has been estimated that the cost of loneliness to UK employers is £2.5 billion every year since the start of the pandemic.

What is loneliness, and how does it affect me?

According to GOV.uk your place of work can have a massive impact on your mental health. Changing jobs more than we used to and temporary rather than permanent contracts are associated with loneliness.

Relationships at work are a top driver of job satisfaction and can affect wellbeing and performance. A lack of social connection at work can lead to lower commitment and productivity, higher absences, and staff turnover, and those who report higher loneliness appear less approachable to colleagues.

What factors at work can cause poor mental health?

The most common issues affecting mental health at work include:

  • Not coping with workloads or demands
  • Being bullied or harassed by your line manager
  • Being on the receiving end of performance allegations and/or a performance improvement plan
  • Facing disciplinary proceedings for misconduct
  • Not receiving the appropriate support or training.

Signs to look out for

Signs of loneliness manifest in different ways. Usually signs revolve around: working excessively and lacking self-motivation. Spending an excessive time on a solitary activity, having a negative attitude to life, feeling worthless, helpless or powerless with very few friends, over-reacting to life events and spending excessive time in front of the television can all contribute and make your isolation seem worse.

What you can do to help yourself

  • Understand the links between poor mental health and loneliness.
  • Make a conscious effort to meet up with neighbours, friends and family.
  • Become a volunteer to support lonely people in the community.

What can you do in your workplace to help colleagues who might be feeling lonely?

It is really important to talk through anything that might be affecting your mental health, no matter where you are.

Social scheduling

Planning social gatherings and team building activities provides a way for employees to meet colleagues, gather company news and updates, and create quality friendships. At Lodders, we are reinstating our regular lunchtime ‘walk and talk’ activities alongside regular social events.

Recognising and sharing successes

Recognising and celebrating the successes of employees and teams is important in making people feel included and appreciated.

Understanding employees

Lodders appreciate that feedback is important and want to help. We do this by sending out surveys, identifying what matters to employees and how we can improve on things.

Expert help

Consider putting in place an accessible and confidential EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) to give employees access to expert help or advice. The Lodders EAP is available to support employees experiencing work or personal problems that are affecting the individual either at home or at work.

With everything, talking is key

Whether you are working from home, or in the office, social interaction is key to balancing loneliness and isolation. Simply taking the time to say hello to a stranger, or to check in with someone you may not have seen for a while can make all the difference.

More information

This article forms part of our series during Mental Health Awareness Week. Read our other articles in the series: 2.6 million ‘hidden workforce’ need time for themselves and Balancing the loneliness disconnect across agriculture

The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is loneliness. Find out more: Mental Health Foundation announces ‘loneliness’ as theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 | Mental Health Foundation

For more information or to talk to a solicitor on these matters, please contact us using the form below.

The opinions and views in this article are for information only and do not constitute legal advice. 

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For help with a legal problem or more information on any of our services at Lodders, please get in touch with our friendly team. You can contact us via the number or email address below, or fill in the form and we will get back to you as quickly as we can.

Emily Brampton, Lodders Solicitors

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