year olds are particularly vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation
of workers feel lonely
do not engage in activities that connect them with their colleagues
The Scope and Scale of the Problem
Isolation and loneliness is an issue that clouds the lives of many Australians. Recent studies found one in four people feel lonely, suggesting it is a growing epidemic across Australia and beyond. Furthermore, despite being commonly believed to be a problem mostly for older people, loneliness and isolation can affect people of all ages and backgrounds, with recent research suggesting that people aged 18-25 are particularly vulnerable. For many, the COVID 19 pandemic has further exacerbated the problem.
People who are lonely experience worse physical and mental health and are more likely to be depressed than non-lonely Australians, which has a significant impact on national healthcare expenditure to the tune of around $2.7 billion per year.
Whilst workplaces are developing a better understanding of the impact of poor mental health on employee performance, the links between mental health issues and loneliness is still often not well understood or discussed amongst employees and within the workplace.
The Impact of Loneliness in the Workplace
Around 37% of workers feel lonely* and around 25% do not engage in activities that connect them with their colleagues*. This is a critical issue that warrants attention from employers, due to the potential cost that this can impose on businesses.
Loneliness in the workplace is associated with poorer job performance and satisfaction, lower organisational commitment and reduced creativity. Employees who are lonely also make more mistakes than less lonely colleagues, take more sick leave, and report a higher intention to resign.
Remote working, which is projected to continue in many industries beyond the current COVID19 pandemic, makes meaningful connection with colleagues even more difficult, with less time spent face to face with colleagues than ever before.
Building workplace knowledge and awareness of social isolation and of the importance of meaningful connection is critical to ensuring staff feel empowered to reach out for help and to appropriately respond to those who need support.
*Source: Michelle Lim, Loneliness researcher, Swinburne University, Chair & Scientific Chair ‘Ending Loneliness Together’.
What Happens at an Open Support ‘Creating Connections’ Briefings
We can help your workplace start the conversation.
Our briefings are conducted by a member of our Open Support Team who is an expert in the Loneliness and Social Isolation Space. It runs for 45mins to allow for question time. We suggest that the corporate organization organizes a morning tea or lunch and learn. We also suggest making it compulsory so people do not feel embarrassed to attend and the knowledge is shared with all.
We can also proceed in an online environment should lockdowns be in place or if this was preferred.
During the briefing we will discuss:
- What is social isolation and loneliness and what is the difference?
- Common myths and misconceptions about isolation and loneliness
- Who is at risk and what are the effects on physical and mental health and workplace performance?
- Practical tips to prevent or respond to loneliness in yourself and others
- What help is available
- What is the Open Support Community Connections Program
Our briefings will also introduce employees to the Open Support Employee Engagement opportunities through our Community Connections Program.
Become a Community Connections Phone Volunteer
For many, our Community Connections program is the only opportunity for social connection with others. Through regular connection by phone or video call, you could help others to gain a sense of belonging and feel part of the community. For a time commitment as little as one hour a week, you will experience the satisfaction of helping others and become a vital and valued member of community. We offer support and training to all volunteers.
Join the Open Support Community Connections Program^
Our approach is person-centred and tailored to your unique interests and lifestyle. Participants have access to a Social Support Case Manager who will work with you to identify strategies and gain access to opportunities to build lasting and meaningful connection with the community you choose. We offer support in 1:1 and group settings and will work with you to develop your social confidence and skills.
^All enquiries will be assessed for suitability prior to joining the program
Build lasting and meaningful connection,
with the community you choose
For more information, please go opensupport.org.au/our-programs/social-isolation or contact email@example.com