Tackle Loneliness At Work to Improve Employee Wellbeing and Engagement


As an employer you should support any employees who are feeling lonely, here's why and how you can...

This week is Loneliness Awareness Week, run by Marmalade Trust, all about raising awareness of loneliness and helping people to talk about it. We can all feel lonely from time to time, but loneliness is more than that. It’s feeling lonely for more than one week.

As an employer, you need to support any employees who are feeling lonely as it can impact your business. People who are lonely tend to be less engaged at work, feel less productive and could experience symptoms of burnout. Loneliness can also create or exacerbate health problems like heart issues, depression, and memory troubles.

With over half of employees (53.6%) in Britain admitting to suffering from loneliness at work, it’s important for business to address it (CV Library), particularly as we move to a future of hybrid working where we can be missing the daily interactions of an office. Here are some of the main causes of loneliness, how to recognise it and what you can do about it…


The causes of loneliness at work:

According to a survey from the CV Library: here’s what people said to be the causes of their loneliness:

  • Having nothing in common with colleagues (44.4%)
  • Didn’t have good work friends (26.5%)
  • Having to eat lunch alone (18.6%)

There are also other causes including people who are in a team by themselves, or whose jobs don’t give them the opportunity to work with others, age differences between colleagues, as well as factors outside of work.

You might also find working from home can contribute, because we can be missing out of the small connections of an office environment. Whether it’s chatting with the team we sit with or running into colleagues into kitchen, there are many opportunities to socialise in the office that are hard to replicate when we’re remote working.


How to recognise it:

Like with everything else, the way we all experience being lonely will be different so it’s important to remember that when you’re looking to recognise and understand how your teams are feeling.

Managers need to start by really getting to know their teams, so they can recognise when someone in their team is feeling disconnected or left out by the rest of the team. There are changes of behaviour you can train them on spotting, including looking down, avoiding interactions or even a dip in performance. It’s also key for management to listen to their other team members who might be closer to their colleagues and could notice concerns before managers do.


What can employers do about it?

Loneliness can have many causes, and as an employer you might be wondering what you can do to address it, if anything. The good news is, there are 7 ways you can help your employees overcome loneliness at work.

Encourage good relationships:

Your teams might not become the best of friends, but you can encourage them to build memories and form bonds. You could organise online or offline team building activities or social events.

Start or end calls with catch ups:

When we’re hybrid working, we can feel like we don’t get to talk to our colleagues about their day, what they’re watching on TV or doing at the weekend. This can make it feel like we’re disconnected from our teams. So, try to start or end a work call with 5 minutes just to chat, or even pick up the phone during the day and to check in with your teams.

Provide more opportunities for socialising:

This last year or so has been trickier to get colleagues together, but as we’re moving out of lockdown small groups of your teams can get together indoors and larger groups can meet up outdoors (and make the most of the weather!). But make sure all colleagues feel included, so don’t always meet down the pub for a pint, why not try a walk or even a picnic.

Create a buddy system:

Although this may feel a bit like you’re back in school, buddy systems can really help your teams feel like they have someone they can talk to. This is great for new starters, particularly if they’re onboarding remotely. Having someone they know they can ask questions to or just have a call to catch up can help tackle any feelings of isolation or loneliness.

Encourage non-work communities amongst your staff:

For many of us, we will probably have a few things in common with our colleagues that we might not know about. So, why not encourage your teams to set up clubs that take place during work hours to get to know each other and share interests. It could be things like virtual book clubs or sports teams, whatever your teams have an interest in has the potential to create a community!

Make appreciation and recognition public:

When we’re working from home it can sometimes feel like our work takes place behind the scenes and doesn’t get appreciated by others which can contribute to us feeling isolated or lonely. Using a public recognition platform can help! It can also help you with increasing productivity, morale, and engagement.

Provide an Employee Assistance Programme:

EAPs can help your employees with many of their concerns, including depression, anxiety as well as their physical and financial wellbeing. They can provide your employees with access to free, confidential mental health support including face-to-face counselling by BACP-accredited counsellors as well as email or phone support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.


How we can help:

If you need support creating a strategy that puts your employee’s mental health and wellbeing at its heart we can help. Get in touch with our experts today to see how we can help you tackle issues like loneliness at work to help you become an employer of choice.

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