Technology has allowed us to work harder and faster—but not always better. In fact, being continuously connected to work can contribute to employee burnout. When employees are expected to respond to emails 24 hours a day, the message being sent is that their job is 24/7. This expectation can make it difficult for workers to create healthy boundaries between their home life and work. And when these boundaries become blurred, stress and a sense of overwhelm will inevitably follow. Operating under these pressures can lead employees to be less proactive and more reactive in their actions.
What can you do?
Technology is not going to go away, nor would we want it to. Encouraging your staff to schedule “tech-free time” may be one of the best steps you can take to support your employees’ well-being, reduce their stress, and increase their productivity and efficiency. Here are five ways you can help your employees build better boundaries:
- Reduce after-hours tech time: Set reasonable limits on when employees need to check their email after work or on weekends. Constant accessibility can add to your employees’ stress and make it seem like work never ends.
- Designate time away from tech during the workday: Encourage your employees to take some tech-free time each day. Suggest that they take a phone-free walk, read a book, work away from the computer, connect with a colleague over tea, or spend some quiet time reflecting. Remember, you must make it clear that these breaks are acceptable and encouraged.
- Set up a tech-free zone: If you have the space, set up an area where your employees can enjoy tech-free time. Having a room for puzzles, meditation, or reading can provide a welcome respite from technology overload.
- Do lunch: Regularly set aside time for team lunches without tablets, laptops, or phones. Coming together without the distraction of technology can help with team building and improve communication, morale, and productivity. Make sure you plan this in a way that allows everyone to participate.
- Minimize digital disruptions. Consider asking staff to keep their phones on vibrate or silent during work hours. Email pings and text alerts can be distracting. Encourage your employees to turn off the email notification pings on their computers, and suggest that they only check email during specific times each day. While it may seem that constantly checking and responding to emails is a good work practice, it greatly diminishes productivity and efficiency. After each interruption, it takes most employees nearly 30 seconds to get back on track. Multiply that by the number of emails an employee receives and you are talking about a lot of lost time.
Taking a step back from technology can help reduce your employees’ stress levels. Partnering with a company that provides health and productivity solutions—including stress management—can help your employees become “stress resilient” and avoid the effects of extreme or chronic stress.