Most people will feel lonely from time to time. And with many of us working from home yet again, it’s not only important to know how you can help support your employees when they’re feeling lonely, but also target the causes of loneliness. After all, loneliness is not always the same as being alone.
What can cause loneliness?
Loneliness is often linked with life events that could prevent you spending time with other people, such as:
- Living or working alone
- Illness or disability
- Relationship break-up
- Moving to a new area, job, school or university
- Social anxiety
However, many people can still feel lonely even when in a relationship or spending time with friends and family.
How to recognise signs of loneliness
Loneliness differs from person to person, but often, people experiencing loneliness can suddenly find socialising has also become difficult. Common symptoms can include:
- Loss of confidence
- Feeling trapped
- Lack of purpose
- Increased frustration.
Noticing a change in behaviour or personality of one of your employees is the first step to supporting them.
How to support loneliness in the workplace
Loneliness can have a serious impact on someone’s health and wellbeing, especially their productivity in the workplace. But there are things you can suggest that may help:
- Join a new group or class – This is a great way to meet new people. If this appears too daunting, suggest an online class first, where they’re not expected to interact but is enough to ease feelings of loneliness.
- Allow time for volunteering – Offer your employee some time off work to volunteer. This could be weekly or monthly. It’s a great way to meet people and can really help improve mental health.
- Explore talking therapies – This is a great way to explore and understand feelings of loneliness, and develop positive ways to deal with them. Alternatively, if your employee has developed anxiety about social situations, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may help.
- Encourage self-care – Feeling lonely can be stressful and have an impact on your employee’s general wellbeing. Encourage them to eat healthily. If they lack the drive to cook for themselves, suggest a meal kit delivery service. Ensure they’re getting plenty of sleep (make sure you’re not emailing them out of hours). And suggest getting outdoors, as exercise and spending time in green spaces can improve self-esteem.
- Stay in touch – Forget about work for ten minutes and organise a catch up. Tell a few members of your team to pop the kettle on and arrange an online meeting. Talk about what people are watching at the moment, or even reading. Try to avoid work conversations. These catch ups can make your employees feel valued as individuals as much as a member of the team.
We’re here to help all aspects of loneliness
Remember that different techniques work for different people, and timing is also crucial. If something isn’t working, suggest trying something else.
However, if you feel you’re unable to fully support your employee, the Doctor Care Anywhere team is at hand. Our 24/7 GP service can help with loneliness, offering diagnosis and recommendations about treatments such as CBT and therapy.
Last reviewed January 2022.