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Hot topic: Employee loneliness, part two

The BBC recently revealed that a third of people often feel lonely, and experts have warned of the potential mental and physical ill health consequences

Charities such as Mind have long said that holidays like Christmas can increase loneliness – with both older and young people likely to be most affected. So do employers have a role to play in tackling loneliness through encouraging workplace friendships, particularly around the festive season? Or is the social life of employees beyond their remit?

Ruth Kudzi, business and mindset coach at Ruth Kudzi Coaching, says:

"Loneliness can be a problem around Christmas, and employers play an important role in encouraging friendships and social events around this time.

"Loneliness can often occur because people feel socially isolated, so encouraging people to make time in their day for social interaction – whether they are working in the office or remotely – can help people feel less lonely.

"Employers need to understand that face-to-face interaction is good for all members of staff. If they have flexible and remote workers employers should think of ways to engage them so they have face-to-face contact with them on a regular basis. They should also foster a culture where people are able to communicate across teams and regions. Technology plays its part, but the benefits of face-to-face interaction cannot be underestimated for wellbeing among employees."

Angela Beerman, HR director of Jewish Care, says:

"While I don’t believe it is our job to provide a social life for employees outside of work, I do believe it makes for a better and mentally-healthier workforce. We must provide opportunities for togetherness and celebration throughout the year, and show each other care and compassion.

"At Jewish Care we are proud of our strong values and place them at the heart of all we do. To thrive in our organisation you need to be someone who genuinely cares about people, and have a strong moral compass. In return we support staff with wellbeing initiatives and an employee assistance programme. I am sure this plays a positive role in all of our staff looking out for each other.

"Our staff represent 66 different nationalities and we celebrate our diversity. For example, last week I attended a Diwali lunch, and next month I am looking forward to my first Chanukah candle lighting and a Christmas jumper competition."

Read the first part of this hot topic