According to the latest research from CV-Library, over half (53.6%) of workers admit to suffering from loneliness in the workplace; with a further four in ten (44.4%) attributing this to having nothing in common with their colleagues.
The study, which surveyed 2,000 British professionals, also found that a staggering two thirds (66.5%) of professionals aged 35-44 feel lonely at work; making them the most isolated of all age groups. This is followed by 54.8% of 18-24-year olds, and 47.4% of 45-54-year olds.
Interestingly, 70% of over 65s, 56.7% of under 18s and 54.5% of 55-64 years olds said they never felt lonely a work. However, it’s clearly an issue that needs addressing. Below, we explain why professionals are feeling lonely and what you can do to help overcome this at your company.
Why professionals feel lonely
According to the study, the main reason why your workers are feeling lonely is because they think they have little in common with their colleagues (44.4%). Following this, 26.5% said it was because they didn’t have good work friends and 21.7% said it’s because their colleagues are a lot younger than them.
Other reasons why workers feel isolated include: working in an office on their own (20.6%), having to eat lunch alone (18.2%), working with older colleagues (11.1%) and not being invited to work socials (6.4%).
Your employees are only human. They are naturally sociable creatures and it really isn’t healthy or sustainable for them to feel lonely at your workplace. Their motivation and productivity will falter and you need to address this as soon as possible.
There may be a number of reasons why your staff are feeling lonely. Maybe they have problems going on outside of work; or their job doesn’t give them the opportunity to work with others. Either way, it’s important to support anyone who might be feeling anxious about this.
What your employees can do to overcome loneliness in the workplace
Unfortunately, loneliness is difficult to tackle. However, there are a number of steps your employees can take to tackle the issue; for the benefit of their career, their self-esteem and their productivity.
In fact, given that one in four Brits blame not having good work friends as the main cause of their loneliness in the workplace, our study went on to ask professionals what they feel are the best ways to make friends at work.
Interestingly, we found that the majority (56.3%) of professionals think you should be yourself; while 53% say you should have a positive attitude. Alongside this, participating in small talk (36.6%), attending more work socials (26.9%) and going for after work drinks were other suggestions.
While it’s impossible to make all your employees get along with one another, there are ways you can foster a culture of inclusion in your business. Schedule regular team bonding exercises between teams, this way, you’ll improve the likelihood of staving off loneliness in your workplace.
Senior leaders feel isolated
The study also found that one in four (27.2%) senior leaders feel lonely at work; and a further 40.8% claim that people’s attitudes towards them changed after they moved into the role.
So while it may appear like your staff are lonely, are you sure you’re not feeling lonely either? Shockingly, over half (56.8%) of UK bosses claim that their home life has suffered as a result of work, with a further 54.7% saying that it’s not worth it to be where they are now professionally.
Alongside this, a quarter (24.1%) of women admit that they’ve lost friends after being promoted, compared to only 10.3% of men. Yet, both men (36.8%) and women (36.1%) felt people’s attitudes towards them changed after securing a promotion, regardless of whether they lost friends or not.
How you can prevent loneliness in the workplace
Every employer has a duty of care to their employees. And, our study found that workers believe there are a number of ways you can prevent loneliness in your workplace.
Firstly, 47.4% believe that your company should put appropriate support in place. Ensure your senior management team know the signs that suggest an employee might be struggling; and how to approach them about the situation. Alongside this, HR teams should be on hand to deal with any severe cases, as well as external suppliers. For example, have you thought about introducing an Employee Assistant Programme?
Secondly, 33.3% of UK workers think that organisations should put on more office socials. While these can definitely help to bring your teams together, be conscious of the fact that not everyone will want to go out drinking. Ask your teams what they’d prefer to do, you can make a poll and see what comes out on top.
As well as this, 29.3% believe it’s important to hire a diverse team. This can certainly help to ensure your employees feel supported and well-represented in the workplace. Especially as our study suggests that working with people from a different age group can lead to feelings of loneliness in the workplace.
Other focus areas that Brits identified include creating a ‘buddy’ system (27.3%), constructing an open-plan office (25.1%), facilitating company lunches (20.9%) and improving the onboarding process (18.5%).
Why is this so important?
The loneliness epidemic is a major issue affecting your employees right now. There are even reports that it can increase the chances of death in people with heart conditions. It’s clearly a problem that extends beyond the workplace; but an important one to address nevertheless.
As an employer, you have a duty of care to look after your team members. Employees who feel disconnected or isolated aren’t going to perform to the best of their abilities; they may even choose to leave your company altogether in search of a job where they can make more friends and fit in better.
If you want to attract, recruit and retain the very best workers, it’s important to be an employer of choice. Look after your employees and they’ll feel more content in their roles.