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Where Are We Now With Technology and Employee Mental Health?

As the world adjusts to life in the aftermath of a global epidemic, another outbreak is hot on Covid’s heels: employee mental health difficulties.

Since Covid, nearly half of US workers have experienced some type of mental health crisis, and the problem is rapidly worsening, leaving businesses scrambling to protect their employees.

However, other experts say that the increasing reliance on technology is adding fuel to the fire, with many people still working from home and some organisations going completely remote.

Other businesses, on the other hand, may find that introducing wellness apps, time-saving software, and improved communication tools is the key to improving their employees’ work life.

It goes without saying that this is a touchy subject.

Employee Mental Health

To get to the bottom of it, we at RisePath spoke with a few renowned HR professionals to learn more about the current state of technology’s impact on employee mental health. Here’s what they had to say.

Expert opinion on the impact of technology on employee mental health

  • Technology is both a problem and a solution.
  • Employees’ work-life balance is hampered by technology.
  • Quick information, quick burnout
  • Technology makes remote working more personal.
  • What can organisations do to help employees with mental health (even if they work remotely)?

Technology is both a problem and a solution.

Workplace technology, no doubt kept us linked in the early days of the epidemic when many people were working from home for the first time in their careers. To keep firms running, when the pandemic broke, we relied extensively on video conferencing, Slack channels, and digital integrations.

However, despite the obvious benefits, the epidemic also revealed the negative side of technology.

Although there is a clever way. The bad aspects of technology may be balanced by… more technology. (You read that correctly.)

We’ve seen some pretty innovative digital connections that boost wellness and employee engagement.

  • Genuine empathy is the healthiest way for managers to help their people.
  • When we inquire, “How are you?” we should pay attention to the response.
  • We can urge staff to set healthy limits by turning off notifications at night and on weekends, and we can set an example by doing so ourselves.

Employees’ work-life balance is hampered by technology.

Technology is unquestionably a two-edged sword. It has an incredible ability to connect us and enable asynchronous work, allowing for more flexibility. The drawback of this connection, however, is that the concept of ‘leaving the office behind’ has vanished.

So, how has technology altered how we work?

For the past several months, many of us have suffered from the blurring of work-life lines. Awareness of work flexibility or flex schedules also recommends that individuals should be available during non-traditional hours, such as after hours.

Maintaining a solid work-life balance in the digital age is a tremendous challenge. But we do have some wonderful strategies for keeping work in control, and it all comes down to setting limits.

One of the most effective mental wellness approaches is the concept of ‘DNB,’ which has been adopted by Google. The acronym DNB stands for “Do Not Book.” Use DNB to schedule time for your kids, concentration, breaks, housekeeping, and even just thinking breaks on your calendar. Because we use a shared calendar, which is crucial for dispersed and asynchronous work, it’s critical that you set aside time for yourself. You may safeguard your work boundaries and hold yourself accountable for taking pre-planned breaks by claiming that time.

Quick information, quick burnout

Changing email rules so they can’t be received before or after a specified time is one of the best applications of workplace technology to address bad mental health. Changing calendars to automatically include a 15-minute break between meetings or blocking out an actual lunch hour so meetings cannot be booked into it, is extremely beneficial.

It’s all about having mechanisms in place that assist you not only set but also maintain your boundaries.

Technology makes remote working more personal.

The enterprise self-service business intelligence revolution is just getting started. Let’s put powerful tools in the hands of businesses so that they can make better, faster decisions. Never create a report when you can automate a process instead.

Use technology for good (and for fun).

For companies that are 100% remote, a good workplace is one where co-workers connect both personally and professionally. So, to kick off the weekend, try having some fun time like having a remote Friday happy hour. This not only allows you to catch up on personal matters, but it also marks the start of the weekend as a time to connect with friends and family.

That’s not all, though.

Employees should also be encouraged to arrange a concentrated time and restrict notifications outside of business hours because of the flexibility of remote work.

Because it can’t be entirely on the employee to create appropriate technological limitations. Once those boundaries are established, employers must accept and respect them.

What can organisations do to help employees with mental health (even if they work remotely)?

Many organisations are desperately looking for new ways to tackle the growth in mental health difficulties, but old solutions aren’t necessarily realistic post-Covid.

Here’s a quick checklist of simple ways companies may support in-person and remote workers (a la our HR experts) to prevent the negative effects of technology in the workplace:

  • Set automation rules and boundaries: It can be difficult to think about boundaries while your nose is to the grindstone. Make it easier for employees by requiring that each and every employee establishes automation rules that help keep work where it belongs. Consider modifying email rules so that they only arrive at specific times.
  • Use supportive technology: There is a lot of fantastic technology designed to help with mental health. Make meditation apps, software that can be integrated, and communication tools available to your employees. ‍
  • Demonstrate empathy: Knowing that someone is on your side is usually comforting. If you notice an employee is struggling, take the time to inquire about their situation, ask how you can assist them, and genuinely listen to their response. Regular one-on-ones are an excellent approach to identifying anyone who is struggling.
  • Set aside time for DNB: We all need a little extra headspace now and then. Encourage staff to block out time in their calendars for ‘Do Not Book’ breaks to provide extra leisure or thinking space.
  • Play with technology: Run exciting Happy Hour events online to make employees feel like they’re a part of the company no matter where they are. Make sure to arrange them when most employees are available (i.e., when they aren’t busy at work or desperate to get home).

Use technology to aid (rather than hinder) employee mental health.

Employee mental health has been shown to be on the decline, and there’s little doubt that the growing stresses of a tech-fueled lifestyle are to blame.

However, technology is both the problem and the answer.

There are many ways to use technology for good, from better team building and communication to automated boundary-setting features — but employers and HR leaders must ensure that employees are using these tools and that leadership respects that.

Employee wellbeing may become a daily reality with the correct practices and a conviction in the positive use of technology.

Christine Lee

Christine is a former HR manager from Fortune 500 tech companies and has managed hiring, compensation and benefits, and payroll responsibilities for multiple companies.

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