How to fight tech addiction in the workplace

34% of people had checked Facebook in the previous 10 minutes

How to fight tech addiction in the workplace

As employees enjoy the benefits of new and exciting pieces of emerging tech, HR leaders should be aware of a very modern problem. Technology addiction.

The constant need to check emails, social media and online news forums has led to a slew of tech addicts – and it’s beginning to impact the workplace.

In their ninth article of the series, Workplace Safety & Prevention Services’ (WSPS) spoke to HRD Canada on the prevalence of digital addiction – and revealed how HR leaders can implement preventative measures.

So, let’s put this issue in perspective. A 2017 UK study from Ofcom found that 34% of people had checked Facebook in the previous 10 minutes. Whilst another AdWeek report highlighted that 80% of smartphone users check their phone first thing in the morning.

“While [some] tech addictions…may start at home, they can be fuelled by workplaces that insist - implicitly or explicitly - that employees be ‘always on’ and available, even after the workday is over,” explained WSPS consultant Krista Schmid.

“A constant barrage of work emails and texts can leave people feeling overwhelmed, hindering productivity, focus, health and mental well-being, all of which will have negative repercussions for the workplace.”

But businesses and employees can take actions to help employees develop a more balanced approach to technology at work and at home, says Krista.

What can employers do?
In order to help employees overcome and technology addictions, employers can instigate a number of measures – which WSPS has helpfully laid out below:

  • Ensure your company culture establishes and communicates healthy tech policies. Consider implementing a no texts or emails after closing time policy or utilize delay delivery options when sending emails. Ensure clear communication between managers and employees on expectations for email response times. Don’t expect employees to be always on — reward productivity rather than availability. Managers, supervisors and executives need to follow these policies and set an example of healthy tech habits.
  • Use digital reminders to encourage employees to take a break when they are on email and texting for long periods.
  • Encourage employees to eliminate distractions by turning off push notifications on all their devices and unplugging from all devices for part of the workday.
  • Promote face-to-face and device free interactions, such as team lunches, creative meetings or company-wide gatherings.

What employees can do?
Engaging employees is also a key part of this process. Ensure that you involve workers in the process by educating them about the dangers of tech addiction.

  • If using devices for work, tell employees to shut them off at the end of the workday.
  • Encourage employees to stay connected to co-workers in real time: send voice messages or make phone calls instead of texts or emails.

In order to fully help our employees, take a look at the helpful tools and guides over at WSPS – use ThinkMentalHealth.ca, an online resource developed by WSPS and our other Ontario health and safety system partners.

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