Fi Loneliness Epidemic

The Loneliness Epidemic: What Can Employers Do to Help?

The US Surgeon General recently declared an ‘epidemic of loneliness and isolation’ in the US. Meanwhile, in the UK, a new study discovered that a third of workers have a high mental health risk which is being driven by workplace loneliness.

The above statistic is very telling of the fact that a person’s work life plays a huge part in helping to alleviate feelings of loneliness. After all, we spend a vast majority of our time at work, so it’s no wonder that the relationships we form there would have influence over our health and wellbeing.

So, what can employers do to help foster social connection in the workplace?

Firstly, striking a balance between in-person and remote working. Hybrid work has proven to be favorable, but it has its drawbacks; whilst some find it allows them to have a better work-life balance, others have cited that working digitally can contribute to feelings of loneliness. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this, but it seems that employers who are creating opportunities for social interaction to take place will help to ward off feelings of loneliness and isolation.

However, it’s important to remember that if you want employees to come into work physically, there must be a purpose behind it! Make sure you are doing the more collaborative, innovative work on those days in the office, and not work that they could very easily do from home.

Secondly, it can always be good for employers to host team building events. Not only does this allow for departments within a company to mix and mingle, but it also allows for employees to have the opportunity to bond over something that is not work-related.

It is important to consider that those who have been feeling lonely may also be feeling less confident in their socialising abilities, and so this should be kept in mind when deciding on an exercise that could unite employees.

For example, have staff take part in some volunteer work for the day. This ultimately removes the pressure of socialising as there will be things to attend to, but at the same time it is an environment that is outside of the workplace, and so will hopefully help to encourage more organic connections to form. Plus, it contributes positively to an employer’s corporate social responsibility initiatives!

Lastly, having mental health support programs in place. Those employers who have invested in Employee Assistance Programs will be able to signpost staff that are struggling through the correct channels to get them support with their wellbeing. Choosing not to invest in mental health support can sometimes seem like a necessary sacrifice to cut costs, but ultimately, the worsening mental health of employees will end up costing employers so much more in the long run. One study even estimates that stress-related absenteeism attributed to loneliness costs employers $154 billion annually in the US.

Those employers who are actively investing in supporting and preventing loneliness are helping to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of their staff. There are many studies that suggest that stronger social ties are linked to increasing the likelihood of an individual’s overall survival by as much as 50%. There is also a growing body of evidence that suggests that our brains actually function better when we’re interacting with others and experience togetherness. In contrast, when people feel lonelier, they tend to have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can leave them much more susceptible to burnout.

Whilst loneliness may seem like a trivial issue, it can have a huge effect on the productivity of your teams, as well as their engagement levels. When your people are your most valuable asset, investing in their wellbeing will likely prove to be the best way of optimizing their capabilities.

If you would like to discuss how we can help implement strategies to mitigate workplace loneliness, please get in touch with me at

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