Contributors: Victoria Grainger, Founder, Wellness Works Canada
Digital disruption is all around us. It is an amazing time to be alive and watch technological advancements grow exponentially. However, for some organizations, there is a hustle culture with an expectation to be connected and work all the time. The changing nature of work can be confusing to navigate. With occupational burnout being recognized as a real condition, employers need to be mindful of expectations and create healthy cultures that support well-being and performance. Digital disruption and technology can be leveraged and embraced to cultivate high performing cultures.
Let’s dive into how digital disruption and technology impact workplaces and how we can leverage these things.
The Impact on Workplace Well-being and Performance
Technology allows us to be connected…all the time. We can be at work and check in on our kids, family or friends via phone, chat and video. This helps us stay connected from a distance.
At work, we are learning ways to be more efficient with greater automation. This is creating a difference in the way we work. We can work while on an airplane, a bus, from home or overseas. There is less personal connection in many industries where people can order food or pay for groceries without talking to anyone. There are fewer manual jobs due to robotics and the internet of things which means more jobs require greater knowledge and understanding of how to use technology.
As we use more technology, we often sit more and move less. Some call sitting the new smoking as the rate of premature deaths due to chronic diseases from too much sitting is surpassing the number of preventable deaths from smoking. Sitting without breaks causes a metabolic adaptation that is bad for our bodies. However, on the flip side, flexibility with being available anywhere anytime can also be an opportunity that allows us to take breaks and move more.
Constantly being connected can also put our mind into overdrive, and cause stress and fatigue if we don’t use it properly. Less personal connection and often more time working, and a lack of quiet disconnected time can prevent our brain from properly storing memories, processing information and regenerating.
Some of these advancements are amazing, while others have made the line between work, family, friends, community and personal time disappear. Some find this difficult to manage but it can be a good thing if we learn to leverage technology.
Top Tips to Leverage Technology for Workplace Well-being and Performance
Digital disruption is amazing and it can change our lives for the better if we embrace it and are smart about how we leverage it. Here are our top tips for employers.
Offer flexibility: People can be connected anytime, anywhere, so let them do it based on a schedule that works for them. Create a culture of trust and evaluate how employees achieve objectives and outcomes, not how many hours of face time they put in.
Give people opportunities to disconnect: Allocate a meeting room as a Recharging Station allowing employees to meditate or practice mindfulness. Implement a ‘right to disconnect’ policy for after-hours where feasible.
Allocate no email/text/distraction periods: Encourage employees to pick a 90 mins a day or half day a week to shut off their phone and email to focus. Offer In the Zone signs to allow people to work uninterrupted.
Have sit stand desks: Use these desks for individual employees or use them in meeting rooms. If you aren’t ready for the investment, try walking meetings and set up printers that are far away rather than close.
Reward breaks: Management philosophy or workplace culture often judges people who go for walks or head to the gym at lunch. Or they judge people who go for regular breaks. Shift the paradigm and give rewards for breaks – even a sincere – ‘good for you’ can go a long way. Having leaders be good role models will also help.
Utilize digital health platforms: Behaviour change applications and virtual walking challenges are a great way to build morale and nudge people to be healthy while communicating that your organization values employee well-being. Some of them can even be a one-stop-shop for employee benefits, can host event calendars, EAP program information, and any other employee health and performance tactics you have in place. There are tons to pick from, however, we’ve found that the Virgin Pulse platforms have great integration capabilities and a history of very high engagement.
The possibilities of how to leverage technology and digital disruption for the better are endless. But if you do nothing else, heed our first tip and offer flexibility to allow people to work when it's best for them. This enables them to be more motivated, engaged and productive. Evaluate success by looking at outcomes, not the hours put in. This type of philosophy will bolster well-being, productivity and performance.
Want tailored recommendations? Join the movement and become a member of Wellness Works Canada. Employer members receive an audit, assessment and custom tips to support a healthy, high-performing organization. Learn more about the other perks or join the movement and become a member!