Smartphones. Our best friends and our worst enemies.
Can you name even one person who doesn’t have access to at least one smart phone?
Flash back 10 years and the only people who had work email on their mobile were high flying executives. The type who spent their days in chauffeur driven cars and who simply had to be contactable at any given moment. Now think of your office today, your team. Who do you know that DOESN’T have their work email on their smartphone?
Regardless of whether the device is work owned or personally sourced, chances are that most employees have mobile access to their work account and are habitually checking their inbox throughout the day, evening and in some cases, the night.
This email overload is eating into our personal time and it doesn’t take a wellness professional to realise there are a number of detrimental side effects creeping into the lives of our employees.
Lack of social time with family and friends
It is not uncommon for me to hear stories of couples sitting side by side, night after night, not communicating with each other but responding to work queries on their respective devices.
Lack of quality sleep
Screen time is mean time for those z’s. Sleep specialists are now saying that failing to reduce screen time at night can have a detrimental effect on sleep quality and are suggesting at least an hour of screen-free time prior to lights out.
Checking your work emails at night is one thing but acting on the content is another. Chances are that your work colleagues won’t appreciate or be able to activate any improvements or responses until the next working day. The resulting feeling of impotence can produce stress and anxiety.
The domino effect
You check your email, you reply, your forward on. By completing these actions you are sending the problem onwards, ensuring that yet more people feel the pressure to check and respond to business email out of business hours.
So what can an employer do to help maintain a healthy work life balance for employees without reducing the productivity of your organisation?
1. Consider who needs flexible access to work email
In addition to a personal problem, work emails on personal mobiles present vast security risks, making it a win-win situation to limit the potential for damage.
2. Consider an out of office response for employees to use after business hours
Knowing they have acknowledged communications will reduce anxiety and set expectations for customers.
3. Reward staff for productivity throughout the day rather than productivity out of business hours
Emphasis should be placed on what has been achieved throughout working hours, perhaps with a round up meeting or daily report signalling an end of shift style clocking off.
4. Lead by example
Show your employees when you will be handling work requests and when you will be offline.
These tips may seem simple and obvious but it is icredible how such small actions can signal a shift in the mentality and way of working for employees, reducing stress and anxiety and in turn improving productivity and reducing key problems such as stress leave and burn out.
I’ll be back next week with more tips on how to ensure a content, productive and efficient workforce, if you have any questions in the meantime please contact me on [email protected] to visit www.brightbluesky.co.uk