Wellbeing is becoming a topic which we cannot fail to read about. Lifestyle choices, workplace related stress and mental health appear to be and should be at the top of every organisation’s agenda – after all, happier employees are more productive and engaged. But managing employee digital wellbeing is a different kettle of fish altogether. Living in an always connected society, it seems to be impossible to escape the digital overload. In this latest blog from Bond HR & Payroll Software, Roger Moore, Managing Director,  looks at the impact that our relationship with the virtual world is having on our reality.

Smart devices, how did we exist without them? Having easy and constant access to email, internet, social media and messaging, as well as the more traditional calling, through one pocket sized device is magical. We are always connected, always switched on and as a result have no excuse for missing important information.

The panic which ensues when we cannot connect to WiFi or lose 3G signal, or FaceBook is experiencing maintenance is now a very real issue for many. Where once upon a time we would phone our friends and catch up on events in their lives, we can now track them via social media. We know who has holidayed where, who has bought new shoes and who has recently changed jobs – all from a device from which we increasingly hate to be separated.

But how is this digital world affecting us and is it healthy?

An alarming stat which has emerged is that the average Brit spends more time online via mobile phone everyday (119 minutes) than with their partner (97 minutes). While this is shocking, it is not hard to believe – you only need to look around when out in public; tables filled with couples, both glued to their mobile phones, preferring to browse virtual reality than communicate and discuss their real lives.

While technology is having a huge effect on our personal lives, it is also impacting the way that we work. There is no dispute that Smart devices play a crucial role, and from a business perspective have a major part in efficiencies – responding to customer emails at exactly the right time and being able to problem solve on the go are major advantages. But many of us are losing the distinction between our digital and real lives – carrying over this always connected approach into evenings, weekends and spending much of our lives online, checking work related emails late at night or at weekends.

Is it any wonder that many people are beginning to feel the digital strain?

While a digital detox may seem like a drastic measure, it is important that employees try to achieve a good work/life balance and realise that just because the mobile device is available and email can be easily accessed, it doesn’t actually have to be responded to immediately or out of hours unless critical.

With more organisations taking on board flexible working it is vital that employees are encouraged to find work patterns that suit their lifestyles and build downtime into their days in order to escape the digital overload. One way that HR can help employees to find this balance is through looking at email patterns – are emails sent late at night, at weekends or when employees are on holiday? All of these are signs that employees are struggling to switch off from their working life and, while they may think they are adding value, the effects of not being able to leave work mentally can be huge.

It is vital that organisations try to understand employees’ working patterns and help them to create a better work/life balance which includes being able to digitally shut down in order to reduce stress. After all, employees that feel valued and understood are typically more engaged and productive.

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