There are a number of people technology trends which relate to wellness and in the next 3 parts of this series I will focus particularly on wellness and employee wellbeing. The first part of the wellness series focuses on Notification and Device fatigue and how technology is being developed to help with this ever increasing problem.
I can probably operate about 90% of the business through a smart phone or tablet, we all know that Mobile Phones are often one of the only things that we carry with us constantly and with new technology developing smarter ways of working with devices (such as Apple with its dual sim technology meaning the work and personal phone can be one and the same) now more than ever employees are at risk of notification fatigue.
I have had personal experience of busy days when I have lots to do and the constant ping of the email notification on my phone, or teams call tones, notifications from the HR system about people booking leave and requesting approval, our weekly updates being pushed out through our communications tool – it all becomes too much. How can we focus on anything if we are constantly interrupted?
I really like some new features on Microsoft Office 365 – a weekly ‘focus time’ email drops in my inbox sharing with me how much of my time is disturbed, how much time outside of ‘core hours’ I spend working and how much time I actually have to sit and focus. The new feature also suggests blocks of time on your diary to set as ‘focus time’ which means meetings are auto declined during this period, teams and email move to do not disturb mode and I set my phone to do the same.
For at least one hour every day. I started to feel the immense relief of having that hour back – which I previously would have done whilst commuting and listening to Gregg James on the way to work. Having lost that time the effect on my own mental health is clear. In the new world, where our employees work very flexibly around childcare or other caring responsibilities notifications at 9pm from a colleague working on their ‘inbox hour’ are not uncommon – so to turn off those notifications makes a massive relief.
Imagine if your HR technology could do the same – ensure that every employee has dedicated ‘quiet time’ each day to focus on themselves, their priorities and what they need to do to be successful rather than jumping in and moving from task to task based on which tile on the screen has the largest number next to it.
There are a number of solutions which already include this feature and they remind employees to take screen breaks, do some physical activity, drink plenty of fluids and have meal breaks. All delivered through an automated solution on the desktop which pops up regularly with a wellbeing action.
If people are the biggest asset in your business, then employee wellbeing is the best asset protection plan you can have in place. The Engage for Success (E4S) movement unearthed some significant links between wellbeing and engagement: Wendy Cartwright, former HR Director of the Olympic Delivery Authority, is its Chair. She says: “When organisations really pay attention to the factors that facilitate staff wellbeing, this can help to generate a feeling of connection with the organisation and stronger employee engagement.”
Increasing employee wellness also has positive benefits for the organisation, through reduced absenteeism, improved employee engagement as employees feel cared for by their organisations and through increased productivity.
Rather than being a slave to technology there is one top tip I share for reducing notification and device fatigue simply – turn off all notifications.
Allow your phone to be a phone, have the ringer and text alert turned on but all other notifications off. Allow yourself time specifically to check certain apps e.g. email at certain times, your personal social media during lunch and designated networking time for work.
To keep your daily concentration and mental health intact you need to interact with technology on the level you want to and that works best for you. For most people, that means interacting on a regular and structured basis – remember notifications are the to do list of others, or the design of the app to have you pay more attention so that it can gain more revenue from advertising.
This blog series is written by James Proctor, Director of Consulting & Services at Phase 3.