Building a Culture of Connection in a Post-Pandemic Workplace

June 12, 2023

Loneliness has been increasing in the US for decades. Even pre-pandemic, an estimated 3 in 5 adults felt lonely and isolated. With Loneliness Awareness Week 2023 just around the corner (it’s a UK initiative that runs from 12-18 June), we’re sharing some resources and information about loneliness in the US Workplace – and what employers can do about it.  

Why Does This Matter for US Employers? 

Compared to their non-lonely colleagues, lonely employees are:  

  • Five times more likely to miss work due to stress.  
  • Three times more likely to admit they are less productive than their peers in similar roles.   
  • Twice as likely to intend to quit in the next 12 months.  
  • At least twice as likely to miss a day or work due to illness. 

Health insurer Cigna estimates that the stress-related absenteeism of lonely employees costs employers more than $154 billion annually. That figure does not include the costs of increased turnover, sick days, or lost productivity.  

How Employers Can Create a Culture of Connection 

In the National Strategy to Advance Social Connection, the US Surgeon General suggests that employers take the following steps:  

  1. Make social connection a strategic priority in the workplace (and make sure any policies or programs can be applied equitably across your workforce, including those working remotely). 
  2. Train, resource, and empower leaders and managers to foster connection.  
  3. Educate your team about the importance of social connection.  
  4. Cultivate a workplace culture that fosters inclusion and belonging.  
  5. Develop policies that allow relationships outside of work while respecting work-life balance and workplace boundaries. 

In Practice: Measures to Promote Social Connection in the Workplace 

We have summarized some practical measures you can take to reduce loneliness in your workplace below:  

Change the language around loneliness.  

Marmalade Trust recommends using destigmatizing language when discussing loneliness. Some simple language changes you can make include:  

  • Use ‘experiencing loneliness’, not suffering from loneliness.  
  • Suggest that employees tell someone they’re lonely, not ‘admit’ that they’re lonely.  
  • Outline that you wish to ‘improve social connection’, not ‘get rid of’ or ‘tackling’ loneliness.  

Read more here 

Promote Worker Autonomy.  

The Foundation for Social Connection notes that “Offering workers a greater level of autonomy can increase levels of social support from coworkers, reduce feelings of loneliness, and improve employee well-being.”  

Formalize Your Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policies.  

Cigna and HERO (Health Enhancement Research Organization) both highlight that formal diversity, equity, and inclusion policies can help to build a workplace environment that is safe and welcoming to everyone. In turn, this aids the advancement of social connections and reduces the number of workers experiencing loneliness.  

Help Your Employees Help Themselves. 

The framework provided by the Surgeon General contains a host of valuable resources. We particularly liked The Loneliness Measurement and Reduction Guide. Employers could distribute this amongst workers to help them help themselves or, ideally, as part of a broader education and training initiative.  

For assistance with your workplace policies, reach out. Our employment team would love to help.  


The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this website or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between CGL and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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