With 60% of employees reporting feeling lonely at work, how is your company addressing loneliness in the workplace?

According to the Marmalade Trust, a charity dedicated to raising awareness of loneliness, last year three in five people (60%) reported feeling lonely at work.

Loneliness can be caused by a wide range of factors, and it’s difficult to determine the exact reason why more people may be feeling lonely at work.

However, one of the reasons could be due to the increase in remote and hybrid working practices, particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic, with employees seeing and/or speaking to fewer people during the workday.

Similarly, the rise of technological advances in the workplace could also be a contributing factor. Even if you’re in the office surrounded by colleagues, the use of  emails and instant messaging (rather than having phone calls and in-person chats) can mean you might still feel alone.

It’s important to remember that this isn’t something to feel ashamed of. Sometimes, if you’re feeling lonely, it’s easy to blame yourself for feeling that way. But try not to blame yourself. Loneliness is an indication that you’re not getting the social interaction that you need.

If you’re feeling lonely at work, whether you’re at home or in the office, here are some steps which might help:

  • Open up. Talk to a trusted friend, colleague or manager about how you’re feeling.
  • Change the way you communicate. Instead of sending emails, try speaking to people in person or over the phone. It’s not always easy if you’re busy, but a five minute chat can really boost your mood!
  • Consider joining a group. If you’re self-employed or freelancing, joining a co-working space might be beneficial in preventing loneliness. You could even join one if you WFH, if your job allows it! 

Loneliness isn’t something that can just have an impact on personal wellbeing. If you’re an employer, loneliness can affect your business, too.

If you take into account the cost of sick days, reduced productivity and staff turnover, it’s believed that loneliness costs UK employers more than £2.5 billion a year. So it’s clear loneliness is an issue that deserves more attention!

If you’re a leader or employer, here are some steps that the Marmalade Trust suggests taking to prevent loneliness in the workplace:

  • Reduce the stigma. Encourage employees to open up if they’re feeling lonely, and provide training to increase awareness.
  • Consider changing the way people work. If you notice any patterns that seem to be contributing significantly to employees feeling lonely, see what you can do to adapt or change them.
  • Make socialising a priority. Make sure employees feel as though they’re able to socialise at work, by encouraging regular breaks and organising social events. And remember, lead by example – if you don’t step away from your screen to eat your lunch and socialise, your team won’t either!

Another way that you, as an employer or leader, can help to tackle loneliness is by providing activities or services which help to promote socialisation and relieve the symptoms of loneliness. 

Massage in the workplace, for example, is a useful corporate tool to support employee well-being, and help tackle feelings of isolation. Positive touch through massage therapy, along with the social interaction, can help to alleviate loneliness.  Numerous studies have demonstrated that the art of touch can restore a sense of wellness and emotional connection. The physical contact releases oxytocin, commonly known as the ‘bonding’ hormone. This stimulates the release of other feel-good hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin, while reducing stress hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine.

With remote and hybrid working, some employees might encounter less physical contact with others, which may be a contributing risk factor for loneliness. Providing On-Site Massage in the workplace can help to counteract this.

What changes will you introduce to help tackle loneliness at work?