According to the Mental Health Foundation, one in four adults feel lonely some or all of the time – the feeling of loneliness is described as a mismatch between the relationships we have and those that we need. Although we all encounter this feeling at some point in our lives, the effects of long-lasting or severe loneliness can be significant on our mental health, including our wellbeing in the workplace.
Mental Health Awareness Week is observed yearly in the beginning of May and this year, Gympass and the Rt Honorable Lord Boateng co-hosted an event at the House of Lords, to discuss the topic of loneliness in the workplace. Lord Boateng was joined by Karl Simons OBE, Sir Cary Cooper (Co-chair of National Forum for Health & Wellbeing at Work), Zoe Seager (Deputy Director for Mental Health, DHSC) and Robin Hewings (Programme Director for Campaign to End Loneliness), who, together, discussed the reality of employees feeling alone at their workplace, and how HR professionals can help address the matter.
There are several reasons why people start feeling lonely – one of them is being out of work. According to Zoe Seager, from the Department of Health & Social Care, employed adults are half as likely to have a common mental disorder compared to their unemployed or economically inactive counterparts. When people join the workplace, they want to work in an environment where they feel supported and able to create connections with fellow colleagues. According to Robin Hewings, having good quality relationships at work results in better performance and higher wellbeing. It is part of the HR’s responsibilities to help provide this.
During the event, Hewing presented a framework for tackling employee loneliness, consisting of four key points:
|1. Company Culture & Infrastructure: One that actively promotes wellbeing, creating an environment that gives people the freedom to succeed, personally and professionally.
2. Management & Care: Train leaders on how to manage people as people, not as commodities.
3. People & Network: Being able to build relationships with people at work, going beyond the workplace.
4. Work & Workplace: Create an environment where people can thrive, not just survive.
Corporate wellbeing programmes are a way for HR departments to actively help the workforce feel motivated and supported. The Mental Health Foundation has identified some important coping strategies that people can rely on to avoid feelings of loneliness:
- Find something you enjoy doing and keep busy: whether it’s gardening, working out or meditating, small activities can give a boost of energy and positive feelings, as well as stimulating the mind.
- Start doing a physical activity you enjoy: it can be as simple as a daily stroll – but physical exercise can help with loneliness. You can even take part in online sessions, through dedicated apps or coaches.
- Talk about your feelings with a therapist: professional therapists will give you the space and time to understand your thoughts and feelings. The sessions can happen in-person or online, whatever works best for you.
Gympass is the only complete corporate wellbeing platform that provides holistic support for every employee, no matter where they are and when they want it — the ideal solution for companies seeking to support their employees every step of the way, mind and body.