Digitalisation and well-being: finding the right balance
16 Feb 2023 • People & Culture
In 2023, employees face significantly more pressure than they did 10–15 years ago. Intensification of work (reflected in a heavier workload, increased learning requirements, and greater expectations of self-direction) is rooted in technological change. While the technological revolution has brought us many good things, it has also made our working lives more hectic than ever and created many new stressors. Therefore it is well worth asking:
Is digitalisation consuming our well-being?
Is it possible for digitalisation and well-being to find balance and create a new, even better form of work life?
Being online 24/7 increases the risk of burnout
Research has shown that the accumulation of increased workloads and demands increases the risk of burnout. When we are online 24/7 and expected to answer messages in multiple channels, tools, and devices, it’s no wonder our brain gets overloaded. In this kind of state, no creativity flows or flourishes.
Work fatigue is a risk for both the employee and the employer, and an overly intensive workload, too complex workflows, or, for example, poor management can cause an employee to look for another job. Also, digital tools not suited for the job can cause unnecessary frustration among employees, and I predict this frustration can cause even more risks than we even realize. If people can’t concentrate on their work because of poorly designed, planned, executed, or introduced digital tools, companies will soon lose not only turnover but also employees.
It all boils down to the digital employee experience
So, what to do? Are we doomed to fail to bring digitalisation and well-being under the same roof?
Companies that invest in technology and processes can reduce work complexity, which in turn helps employees feel more balanced at work.
We all know that digitalisation has potential that hasn’t been fully utilized. For instance, have we considered that with digital tools organizations can also create a better employee experience? Although good employee experience does not automatically convert into well-being, it certainly boosts the positive emotions of the people and the company. According to research, companies with great employee experience are more innovative and profitable and have higher levels of customer satisfaction as well. I presume this is something we all want for our companies, right?
After interviewing top professionals around the world for the fourth season of the Better Monday podcast, I am convinced that digitalisation and well-being can live hand in hand and even support one another, but this will need a lot of effort from the leaders and the employees. Just like one of my guests, Joana Pais Afonso, Culture & People Experience Manager of Deloitte, stated:
“Digital tools are enablers of the digital employee experience – the simplifiers of processes that once were complicated. We all remember the impact of launching the iPhone! However, the digital tools themselves are not enough – we also need a shift in our mindset.”
Maintaining well-being while using multiple digital tools is difficult for sure. But there are also tools that – when introduced properly alongside proper guidelines of how to use them – will free our time from manual work and unnecessary meetings to something more meaningful like innovation, creativity, and empathy.
A few tips that can help you go digital while keeping your well-being intact:
- Embrace asynchronous task management tools, such as Trello, Asana or Notion.
- Help the team work asynchronously and be well-informed about everything happening in a project without feeling the need to sit in a meeting every day.
- Utilise video tools such as Loom.
- Use these to reduce the time of unnecessary meetings by creating personalised video messages and instructions.
- Establish clear rules and guidelines for instant messaging.
- You can save time with chat tools but be careful with these! Without clear instructions and rules (e.g., what are the message office hours, when to call instead of chat, when to turn off all notifications), chat tools may do more harm than good for your well-being.
- Taking breaks is often forgotten in the midst of a hectic workday. By using a timer like Pomodoro, you can better control your time and tasks.
- Increase transparency by using digital goal setting tools such as Talbit or Notion.
- When you write down your goals and make them part of your weekly and monthly routines, you are more likely to achieve them. It also helps if you can see the progress and goals of the whole company, as they are written down and updated regularly in a place where everyone in the company can see them.