Doomscrolling: The toxic trait that's killing company morale

Since the start of the pandemic, Twitter's daily users have increased by 24%

Doomscrolling: The toxic trait that's killing company morale

Do you ever find yourself mindlessly trawling through social media posts? Obsessively looking up breaking news? Worrying over events that’re out of your control? Then you’re a victim of ‘doomscrolling’. Doomscrolling is the practice of obsessively scrolling through negative news online – something which ultimately leads to depression, anxiety, and poor morale. A rather recent phenomenon, doomscrolling has only intensified through the evolution of technology and the isolation of the pandemic, culminating in a mental health crisis – especially amongst employees.

“Frankly, doomscrolling is a waste of time,” Brian Hughes, VP of HR at First Onsite, told HRD. “The various venues available today has made insights and awareness to things that were rarely seen publicly to be more visible and live-on every day – almost constantly. The doom and gloom that’s projected everywhere is not helping our employees or the mass population in society.”

Read more: Politics and respect at work in election season

Since the start of the pandemic, Twitter’s daily users have increased by 24% - with Facebook up by 27%, according to data from Healthline. This obsessive need to seek out and digest negative and upsetting news is a conclusion for many of us – especially in the workplace. And, for HR leaders, it contributing to an all-out worker brain drain.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) in mental health

Over the past two years, employees across Canada have been more depressed and stressed than ever before. Constant lockdowns and employment uncertainty throughout the pandemic had a devastating impact on morale – one which employers are having a hard time piecing back together.

“Canadian employee mental health is without a doubt a current and priority focus for organizations,” added Hughes. “Mental health issues, as we know, have always existed - however prior to the past two years the topic was not openly or as easily spoken about. The mental health decline, in my view, is triggered from the increased visibility through social media and the continued focus on the negative aspects. One area that is emerging in my radar to help individuals and organizations as a whole reset thinking is ‘Appreciative Inquiry’.”

Appreciative Inquiry is a style of positive leadership that inspires organizational change. The practice helps reset individual and team mindsets, taking away negative, intrusive thoughts and replacing them with positive, self-affirming ones. And, for Hughes, it’s yet another way of combatting doomscrolling.

“One priority that all people leaders should focus on is caring,” he told HRD. “Our company puts a spotlight on creating an environment and experience for all employees to be human and connect on deeper levels. The resiliency platform that is available to all employees (and their families), is encouraged for use by people leaders, particularly when a care moment emerges.”

How to combat doomscrolling at work

So, how exactly can HR address doomscrolling at work? Well, it’s more a case of improving internal morale and mental health over a longer period of time. Investing in real-time wellness programs, telemedicine, and VR coaching can help employees access personalized, 24/7 support. It’s also important to educate your teams of the dangers of social media and excess ‘online time’. Try launching initiatives such as outdoor team building, book clubs, and ‘notification free days’ that will encourage employees to ditch the tech.

Read more: Homework, bingo, and movies: Employees reveal bad 'remote work' habits

“People are going to do what they do at work or not,” added Hughes. “An organization with a culture of openness encouraging authentic dialogue is foundational to creating space to provide employees what they need without distracting them from role expectations or areas within their control. The people leaders, supported by HR business partners are the most effective lever to use to provide this experience. Coach people to influence what is in their control which is mostly internal, presuming external doomscrolling is ignored. Our thoughts, feelings and beliefs directly impact how we show-up – lets all commit to support each other from where we are and move in a more positive direction.  We can change the world.”

Recent articles & video

Canadian HR Awards: Have you reserved your seats yet?

Another McDonald's outlet offering huge sign-on bonus

Royal Bank of Canada urging employees to report 'more often' to offices

How to draft a 'watertight' employment contract

Most Read Articles

'Quiet quitting': The toxic employee trend that's worrying HR

'HR is not your friend'

Microaggressions in remote work: HR's legal responsibilities