In recent years, employers have become increasingly aware of the benefit of investing in the wellbeing of their employees. But many don’t yet understand the impact that loneliness can have on an employee’s health.
When people feel lonely, the stress hormone cortisol greatly increases in their body. If prolonged, this can have a significant physical as well as emotional effects. As reported by HR website Personnel Today, loneliness is believed to increase the risk of heart disease by 29%, stroke by 32% and reduce life expectancy by 7 years.
Many employees are feeling increasingly socially isolated in their workplace due to a number of factors. These include the increase of homeworking and a reduction in face-to-face communication as new technology is introduced.
Fortunately, there are ways in which employers can guard against loneliness in the workplace. Ensuring managers are trained in understanding mental health issues including how to spot the signs of loneliness and understanding the effects of it is key to highlighting the problem.
The role of good office design
It is also vitally important to improve the opportunities for social interaction in the workplace. Office design plays an important part in this. For example, if the layout of desks means that people are forced to sit with their backs to each other, or they are fenced off from other people by overly high partitions, they will start to feel isolated.
Creating an office layout that enhances every opportunity for employees to interact during their working day will be a big step towards combating loneliness in the workplace.
For example, by creating shared breakout areas, people can feel encouraged to take breaks from their desk and collaborate with members of their team – or even just and eat together rather than eating in isolation at their desk.