Helping Employees Get Through the Loneliness Epidemic

  • 3 mins read

The world is going through a loneliness epidemic that started even before the COVID-19 pandemic distanced people even further from each other. Around 43% of people reported struggling with loneliness, and the effects can be felt across the board:

  • Social life
  • Happiness levels
  • Job performance
  • Even physical health

Loneliness can have severe impacts on an individualís mental health especially. Companies looking to provide better wellness support to their employees may want to start with ways to combat this epidemic.

Should Companies Help Employees Feel Less Lonely?

For starters, letís answer the question: is it the companyís job to fight against employee loneliness rates?

Itís well established that companies who offer their employees solid resources designed to support their wellness benefit from higher employee retention rates and manage to attract better-qualified people for new positions.

And in 2022 and going forward, helping combat loneliness is one of the pillars of wellness, as loneliness is known to be even worse for a personís health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day or obesity.

Not just that, but being lonely can increase the risk for:

  • Heart disease
  • Strokes
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Early mortality
  • Even cognitive decline

Loneliness affects a personís outlook on life, their motivation, and can even slash job performance. Companies who want to invest in wellness programs for their employees must ensure that at least part of their efforts goes into countering the loneliness epidemic their teams already face.

How Can Companies Combat Employee Loneliness?

Creating opportunities where employees can connect and engage is one of the best ways for companies to tackle the loneliness epidemic. But because this issue can result in negative effects on many levels, a more comprehensive approach should cover a few key areas:

  • Physical health – Helping employees take care of their physical health, either through company-created programs or facilitated access to certain medical services is one of the major components of an employee wellness program, even one designed to combat loneliness specifically;
  • Mental health – Awareness regarding mental health is increasing, yet access to such services is still low. Companies who want to help employees combat loneliness can invest in mental health services;
  • Physical activity – Sports and an active lifestyle can improve both physical and mental health. Companies can offer discounts or paid memberships to sports centers, and gyms, or even conduct their own sporting activities and encourage company-wide participation;
  • Socialization – Be it through game nights, team buildings, or office parties, such informal activities can help employees connect with each other, build stronger relationships, and even feel less isolated from their peers;
  • Mentorship and coaching – Some employees could benefit from coaching programs designed to help them connect with their peers, teams, and even collaborators. These types of programs can assist the employee in learning essential life skills and growing confidence in their own abilities.

Loneliness doesnít have a simple cure, nor can it be fixed rapidly.

However, if companies become aware of the problem, they can build a solid framework and help their employees navigate this new reality.

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