Over a majority (58%) of UK workers said they had felt lonely at work during the last 12 months.
However, when asked who they might be prepared to discuss their feelings of loneliness with, only 4 percent said they would contact their HR department, while a shockingly low 8 percent said they would speak to a manager.
This is according to research by Hall & Partners, which also found that of those prepared to speak with a manager, more men were prepared to do so, compared to women (53% vs 47% respectively).
Also, more women said that feeling lonely had impacted their self-esteem – 56 percent, compared to men – 44 percent.
Productivity will be impacted
Depression is a significant contributor to the state of mental health; not only does it impact physical and mental health, but it can also lead to a loss of productivity in the workplace.
According to Mental Health Foundation, 70 million days are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK, costing employers around £2.4 billion per year.
Hall & Partners’ own research revealed that 11 percent of UK workers (this figure was higher in the US – 31%) had left their job last year or had thought about doing so due to mental health issues.
Mental health issues
Millions of individuals may experience feelings of loneliness from time to time. Some people are also at higher risk of experiencing loneliness, and evidence shows the longer we feel lonely, the more we are at risk of mental health problems.
Certain jobs come with particularly high levels of stress, such as serving military personnel and those working in the emergency services. Additionally, jobs within the creative industries are also often defined by high-pressure as they involve demanding projects and tight deadlines. This can play its part in leading to burnout and mental stress.
“Everyone’s mental health has taken a hit over the last couple of years as we became isolated from family, friends, work colleagues and from the communities we live in. Businesses can play an important role in helping to alleviate loneliness and ensure the positive mental wellbeing of their staff,” says Director, Global Marketing & Communications at Hall & Partners, James Gambles.
How can managers and employers help?
“Business leaders must prioritize employee experience (EX) and begin to think like marketers by surprising and delighting potential and existing employees if they are to avoid losing staff and joining the ‘Great Resignation’ that is sweeping the UK at present,” suggests Mr Gambles.
He continues: “People want to be understood, heard, responded to, and engaged with. They are value driven and want to be valued too. Underpinning all of this is empathy. Directly relating to the reality of people’s existence provides valuable emotional capital. Empathetic values build more emotional connections to leaders and brands.
“Business and brands have the power to change the world, and this starts with people. It’s time to challenge the traditional conversation, which has overlooked the importance and power of kindness in leadership and the immense impact that it has in all areas of business.”
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.