How can technology be used to support mental health in the workplace?
59% of UK adults experience stress at work, here Natasha Bougourd from TSG highlights how technology can be used to support mental health
When combined, technology and mental health often generate negative headlines. There’s plenty of published reports displaying evidence that helps to reinforce that social media and too much screen time can increase stress levels which puts people more at risk of developing depression and anxiety, as well as issues with their quality of sleep.
But on the flip side, technology has slowly earned its place when it comes to contributing positively to mental health. In recent years, apps such as Head space, Calm and Stop, Breathe & Think use technology to help people manage their own mental health conditions, as part of their daily routine.
The working environment is the main cause of stress for UK adults
Research from Perkbox indicates that in the UK, work is the main cause of stress, with 59% experiencing it. What’s more, over one in five experience moderate-to-high levels of stress at work several times a week. The biggest work-related contributor to stress is long working hours, which impacts 21% of people. Happiness in a job is essential to employee productivity; 39% work harder if they’re happy in their current job or workplace (One4all).
The good news is that technology can be used to manage stress beyond the standard meditation apps. Let’s take a look at the ways in which workers can manage their stress, workloads and working hours using technology that might not immediately be associated with stress relief.
Artificial intelligence: Eliminating repetitive and time-consuming tasks
Productivity is a buzzword in the business world right now, and it’s driven by technological advances. Artificial intelligence (AI) is driving efficiencies by eliminating manual, repetitive and time-consuming tasks like data re-entry.
Employees with jobs that require a lot of manual data input could save hours by using technology that now comes as standard in many of the latest versions of the software solutions they use daily, like their financial systems or CRM solution.
It’s important to keep the technology your workers use up-to-date, as legacy systems that don’t work effectively can contribute to stress and additional, unnecessary work. Additionally, Randstad found that one of the top factors in employee satisfaction is having the latest digital and technology tools.
Engaging intranet platforms: To offer more support to remote employees
Businesses with frontline or remote workers consistently report issues with engagement; 21% of businesses cite low engagement amongst frontline staff as a barrier, while 78% believe connecting with those employees is the key to success (Harvard Business Review).
While the statistics supporting remote working for employees are endless, with improved satisfaction, increased productivity and a better work-life balance just a few of the benefits, it can be easy for those workers to feel out of the loop with the office and company culture; 21% report feeling lonely and struggle with communication.
Businesses are using intranet and communication platforms to help bring those remote employees into the fold. By keeping up-to-date with key business updates and more informal topics, remote workers feel like they’re truly a part of your organisation’s culture. You can use this space to share social media feeds, event details or even take the opportunity to publish focus pieces on those remote workers to introduce them to the rest of your workforce.
Time management tools: Enabling staff to feel more in control of their workload
Longer working hours are becoming a widespread issue thanks to our always-on culture. Employees feel obligated to either work longer hours or to be contactable and working outside of hours, with 50% of people checking their emails outside of work (Dissent). Working more hours than standard can affect health, as the Australian National University found anything over 39 hours a week could be detrimental to health.
Time management can help employees feel more in control of their workload, and can reduce the pressure they feel to work longer hours. Ultimately, management must play a role in helping employees to reduce extensive working hours, but workers can proactively take steps to support themselves.
There’s a wide range of time management tools available either standalone and for free, or as part of a business software package like Office 365, that can help workers manage their time more effectively. From personal to-do lists to more comprehensive team or business-wide solutions where tasks can be assigned with a deadline and space for updates, the sky is the limit.
Understanding and tackling stress in the workplace requires a methodical approach
Stress, and in particular workplace stress, is a complex beast that won’t be solved with one solution. In addition to using technology to manage stress, employees must be supported by their managers and businesses. But, amidst all of the headlines that identify technology as a killer of productivity and mental health, it’s reassuring that it can also be used to vastly improve them, too.
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