Christmas is traditionally seen as an event to be spent around loved ones. However, in addition to the 500,000 elderly people due to spend Christmas by themselves, another 3.5 million Brits are expected to spend Christmas day alone. For some this will be through choice and they would argue that being alone isn’t the same as being lonely. But for those employees affected by bereavement, relationship breakdown, strained family relationships or money issues separating them from others, the run-up to Christmas can seriously affect their mental health, causing them to feel lonely, depressed, anxious and isolated. Every year, we get calls from employees who feel too ashamed to admit to their colleagues that they’ll be spending Christmas alone. We hear as well from bereaved individuals who thought they’d gone through the worst of their grief, only to be confronted by unexpected feelings of anger and despair that someone they love won’t be there for Christmas. Left unsupported, these individuals are at risk of becoming tearful, withdrawn or snappy at work, or even calling in sick if they can’t face being around colleagues making happy plans. Fortunately, there are a number of simple things that HR and managers can do to identify and support those most affected so that they don’t feel so isolated.