Technology and automation originally aim to simplify workplace procedure and ease employee’s tasks, thus reducing employee’s stress from repetitive and dull burdens. The reality, however, is different.
Technology has done a lot to help us connect better, work more efficiently, as well as allow us to gain more intangible insight into the world of business. Yet, AXA research found that technology might bring greater negative impacts than positive ones if not used wisely. As reported, 4 in 5 people in Britain could be suffering from burnout due to excessive technology usage in the workplace. Almost three in every five respondents admitted to taking calls outside of working hours while more than half said check emails outside working hours. Consequently, employees stuck in the “always-on” culture that leaves them at risk of suffering from adverse health issues due to stress and overwhelm.
“I am not a Luddite. I am suspicious of technology. I am perfectly aware of its benefits, but I also try to pay attention to some of the negative effects.” – Neil Postman
According to a research published at CAN, the always-on culture becomes a big driver of suicide and death case. The blurring of work-life boundaries brought upon by technology has absorbed employees to develop a “work first, rest later” attitude, making them feel disconnected from others and even from themselves. This, apparently, leads to emotional numbness and depersonalisation which also affects and worsens employees’ productivity, concentration, and emotional as well as physical connection. For some cases, as written in CAN research, this kind of excessive burnout is a precursor to premature death such as sudden stroke or suicide.
Further, research on the impact of screen time on wellbeing by Harley Therapy revealed that spending too much screen time can also lead to eyesight problems and fatigue. Additionally, without proper back support, spending too much time sitting and facing a screen can result in back problems such as spinal arthritis or facet joint syndrome. Employees might be prone to suffer from repetitive strain injury (RSI) as well. Other mental health issues such as impulsive behaviour, poor sleep, loneliness, and not enough downtime which are a result of “technology” can lead to anxiety and depression too.
Nevertheless, while there is no use to complain over what makes us develop, there is still hope for businesses to boost, retain, and pull out employees from excessive burnout due to technology.
The key is to keep in mind Billy Cox’s epigram, “Technology could improve your life, not become your life.” That being said, here we propose two better solutions for leaders to help employees have fun and productive “technology work-time”.
A very simple and practical solution, leaders should always encourage employees to take their break time wisely. If possible, encourage them to take a break every 20 minutes during their working hours. As reported in The Guardian Post, taking a short break for a few minutes every 20 or 40 minutes can significantly reduce strains and pain in the neck and shoulders.
Owing to the mounting workload and greater pressure to finish their job, employees often ignore their rest time, resulting in messed up performance. In addition, continuously telling your employees to take a break while they have “too much on their plate” can decrease their mood which could make them develop “my boss does not understand me” thoughts. Hence, try to simplify the pressure given to your employees by having effective communication, be it formal or informal one-on-one communication. Adopting an open line of communication can help you understand your employee at a deeper level, thus, it helps you show care towards the employees. You can also help them to prioritise their tasks and stay focused on their physical and mental wellbeing.