With the announcement that lockdown restrictions will continue until 19 July, employers are looking at what the future of their workforce will look like.

This week is Loneliness Awareness Week and there has never been a better time for employers to consider how they can support their workers.

Whether employees are still working remotely, or they are starting to adopt hybrid working, these uncertain times may impact worker wellbeing and their feelings of loneliness.

Recent studies have suggested that the newer ways of working have had an impact on staff loneliness.

Hybrid working has benefitted many companies over the last year, with a newfound realisation that an autonomous and agile workforce can be created from the comfort of their homes.

However, the loss of in-person collaboration and networking opportunities that the old way of working provided, is leaving many workers feeling isolated and disconnected from friends or colleagues.

A recent study revealed that 65 per cent of homeworkers feel more socially isolated.

Consequently, employers need to think about what they can do to support staff; especially whilst Covid-19 restrictions are still in place.

Here are a few of our recommended support steps for employers to consider:

Pushing in the policies – Employers ought to ensure that loneliness awareness is part of wider employee wellbeing and is implemented at an organisational level within policies. It is not fair for employers to expect workers to just simply ‘fit’ in to the business and to rely on finding like-minded workers.

Creating a supportive culture – A culture that supports employees can promote meaningful connections between individuals. Organising business cultures where cooperation and connectedness are accentuated will support the quality of relationships and help avoid feelings of loneliness.

Employers should be cautious that there is not a culture that promotes individualism and personal success through competition.

Programmes for wellbeing are being adopted by employers more frequently over the last year, that recognise the links between work, health, wellbeing, and productivity.

Asking the employee – Staff surveys are a popular method to ask employees about loneliness and to understand how much of an issue it is for them.

This will allow workers to be honest about their concerns, whether anonymously or directly to their manager or employer.

Not only this, but businesses can then respond and send a clear message to their staff that they know it is important for social wellbeing.

Managing conversations – A manager should be an employee’s most direct point of contact and workers should feel at ease talking to them about these topics – whether on a Zoom call or in-person.

Whether feelings of loneliness are rooted in poor-quality relationships or work-related stress, managers should be able to provide support in these emotional or difficult conversations.

Therefore, it may benefit managers to receive training on handling such scenarios and what advice they can give.

HR Caddy can offer you specialist advice on all HR matters, including offering training on staff wellbeing, no matter how large or small your organisation is. For more help or advice on matters relating to employee wellbeing, please contact us today.