4 ways businesses can combat the UK's loneliness 'epidemic'

4 ways businesses can combat the UK's loneliness 'epidemic'

The detrimental impact of loneliness on the economy has been illuminated by MP Rachel Reeves, of the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission, who believes the UK is currently in the grip of a loneliness 'epidemic'.

Speaking ahead of the Jo Cox Commission report, Reeves, the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, believes businesses have a role to play in eradicating loneliness, especially considering estimates that the cost of loneliness on British companies is £2.5billion a year in days lost.

Writing in City AM, Reeves warns that employers can no longer afford to ignore the consequences of doing nothing. “As with environmental sustainability 20 years ago, forward-thinking organisations no longer frame loneliness as a charitable cause, but as a social issue they can influence directly by the way they do business.

“Small, practical steps can be transformational as companies reflect on the way they organise and support their ever more remote and fragmented workforce.”

By taking small measures, not only will workforces contribute to better wellbeing, but they will also be tackling wider issues. According to NHS England, loneliness exacerbates the risk of premature death by a third and lonely people spend longer in GP surgeries and hospital wards and have longer recovery times.

Furthermore, loneliness can affect all corners of society, not just those who work remotely or are suffering from loss. Reeves explains: “The high-powered executive too busy to have meaningful conversations on a human level. The employee who feels chained to their work station. The new mum on maternity leave. The recent graduate taking up work in a strange and unwelcoming city.”

However, there are ways business owners and employers can support staff, themselves and society as a whole. The advice is listed below...

Attend networking groups

According to research by the Federation of Small Businesses, the number of self-employed people totals 15.1% of all those in work. Whilst it’s been a great feat in accommodating workers who need flexibility, isolation and working alone is one of the top three challenges of self-employment (25%). A report by Aldermore (March 2017) revealed that over a third (39%) of Brits say they have felt lonely since becoming their own boss.

One way to reduce this figure, according to Mike Cherry, FSB’s National Chairman is to attend networking groups“We’re urging small business owners and the self-employed to utilise business networking groups as a vehicle for connectivity to enhance their wellbeing.”

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