We need to rethink the role of technology in the well-being of businesses

Employers nationwide are taking action to improve employee well-being, reduce stress and improve mental health. For many, they are well-intentioned, such as banning work emails at certain times of the day, encouraging employees to “log off”. However, the risk with general policies like these is that they don’t work for everyone. A recent study from the University of Sussex even found that banning out-of-hours emails can negatively impact employee well-being – by restricting opportunities for truly flexible work and taking away a feeling of control and autonomy.

While we typically think of technology as a catalyst for overwork and burnout, it’s time to recognize that for some it makes it easier healthier work habits.

Technology has developed a bad reputation for well-being at work. In the aftermath of the pandemic, technology is routinely accused of encouraging employees to be ‘always on’ and never to log off from work, even indulging in ‘bedmin’ until they do. fall asleep.

There is an element of truth in this idea. For many, technology can encourage these unhealthy habits and longer work hours.

However, when used wisely, technology can help individuals thrive. Remote access allows you to spend more time with family and the convenient freedom to work on the go. For some, checking email briefly at night even helps them organize their schedule for the next day and avoid stressful mornings.

The key for employers is to understand what works for the individual. One size does not fit all. The flexibility of working arrangements and the support of corporate wellness experts help people develop habits that are right for them. But the role of technology in emotional well-being goes beyond simply facilitating remote working.

Technology can help transform the way businesses can support their employees. Previously, wellness interventions could be complex, time consuming and expensive. Now employees can easily access tailored interventions across all digital platforms.

These solutions have not replaced face-to-face interventions, but they offer an informal and easily accessible first step for anxious employees, directing them towards more comprehensive support.

Beyond diagnosis

Technology is also paving the way for support beyond simple diagnosis. Some people feel uncomfortable talking directly about their experiences with an employer or healthcare professional. Online self-help platforms and distance counseling / cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can prove useful here, encouraging individuals to speak more openly, with an element of anonymity. Providing therapy remotely can help employees learn to break unnecessary thought patterns and adopt coping mechanisms. Research even suggests remote therapy may be as effective than face-to-face sessions.

In addition to corporate offerings, companies should also direct employees to an external medium, such as mindfulness applications, which allow individuals to practice breathing and mindfulness techniques at their own pace, which they can use during times of stress, preventing them from blowing away negatively.

Employers should also ensure that their team has access to the full range of tools and support available to them. This may include emailing step-by-step guides to accessing company interventions and inviting specialist application service experts to host live webinars to get the most out of their services. .

One of the main benefits of integrating digital interventions into the wellness strategy is the ability to create data that informs interventions. Traditional general wellness policies often leave employees disengaged, however, data-driven interventions allow them to receive support for their symptoms, in a way that works for them.

Companies can regularly send online surveys to employees that allow them to vote on work preferences such as flexible opportunities and work benefits. Business leaders can then access data at a micro and macro scale, allowing them to tailor the benefits to their team. For example, the data may reveal that some employees prefer to start work later and continue in the evenings, allowing them to exercise during the day or enjoy a hobby in the morning.

Companies without this level of information can deploy general policies such as banning emails after 7 p.m. However, for some employees this translates into reduced physical condition and negative mood, as they are forced to work fixed “office hours” and may not have the time or energy to exercise. after work.

Data collection also enables predictive analytics – helping companies target wellness interventions at the first signs of difficulty, distress or mental illness and helping individuals regain their peak physical and mental fitness.

For example, by encouraging regular health assessments, signs of fatigue, sleep disturbances, anxiety, bad mood and / or musculoskeletal pain can be detected early. Mental and / or physical health support is less complex if provided early and can prevent health problems from becoming multifaceted, chronic or severe.

Diagnostic tools and subsequent medical appointments provide employees with practical advice they can use to relieve symptoms and improve their health. For example, making ergonomic changes to their work configuration or practicing sleep hygiene for a better quality of sleep.

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