Why employers should address loneliness in the workplace

With many employees feeling socially isolated at work, there are many ways employers can help prevent loneliness in the workplace, says Karen Matovu, head of mental health training for managers at Validium. Annual wellbeing programmes are likely to address known health risks, such as smoking, poor diet and physical inactivity. What is less well known is that loneliness is a serious threat to health, comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according to the UK campaign for loneliness launched in 2011. Not only do prolonged feelings of loneliness significantly increase the risk of developing dementia (Holwerda et al, 2013), but it also increases the risk of heart disease by 29% and stroke by 32% (Valtorta et al, 2016), reducing life expectancy by seven years (Holt-Lunstad et al, 2015). When we’re lonely, the stress hormone cortisol floods our bodies, shortening our breath, increasing our heart rate and tensing our muscles. Prolonged feelings of loneliness exert a physical toll on our bodies, as well as being a difficult emotion to live with.   Excerpt from Personnel Today, read the full article here.

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