Categories: Careers

Companies Encouraging Employees To Unplug Is The New Normal (And Super Important)

It may be difficult to believe, but work-life balance is still something that most millennials struggle with, as many are incapable of turning off the “work switch” each night and/or weekend. We recently talked about the benefits of working out in relation to your career, but, with Apple recently announcing “Screen Time”, a new tool that will help parents monitor the amount of time their kids spend connected, it got us thinking more about how employers encourage employees to unplug.

Here are some benefits of encouraging employees to step away from the screen — and some ways to help them do it.

Why Work-Life Balance Is Important?

In 2018, “clocking out” has lost its meaning. Many young professionals continue to work after they’ve left the office, whether it’s responding to an email late-night or working on a last-minute assignment. However, it’s making workers miserable.

Although we’re admittedly bad at it, our generation values downtime over Gen-Xers. Doloitte spoke with nearly 7,700 Millennials in 29 countries and found that millennials value work-life balance above everything else. In fact, it’s becoming a huge part in how potential workers rate a company culture, too.

When the lines between leisure time and work are blurred, it’s too easy for employees to become burned out and resentful. Pushing employees to respond to emails or work on assignments after-hours causes “anticipatory stress,” according to a 2016 study from the Academy of Management. This behavior fosters an “always-on culture” that makes it difficult for workers to unwind at the end of the day. Eventually, these habits can cause job resentment, depression, fatigue and a host of other responses that can be toxic to the workplace.

To maintain a happy workplace, it’s best to reduce the amount of time employees are expected to spend in front of a screen. They will feel more empowered to spend time with family, focus on hobbies, among other things, which will help them recharge for the next day.

Ways To Successfully Unplug

Never Email After Hours

How often do you find yourself shooting a late-night message to a colleague? According to productivity experts, this habit could be harming your team.

Furthermore, a 2017 Jobvite survey showed that 45 percent of Americans check their work emails long after they’ve clocked out. While this once would have been a badge of honor, it’s now a dangerous habit that makes if difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance. In fact, The New York City Council has recently proposed a bill that would prohibit employers from requiring team members to answer emails once they’re off the clock.

Unintentionally or not, when you send an after-hours email, your team will feel compelled to respond. When you’re working, your team will feel like they should be working. Be clear about expectations for emailing, Slack and other forms of communication that your team uses. Implement a policy that discourages emailing after-hours, and make sure everyone in the company sticks to it. This means holding off until the following morning to send an email, even if the expectation is to wait till the next morning for a reply anyway.

For remote workplaces that don’t have a definitive end to their day, consider implementing an emailing cut-off time and stick to it. Letting employees know they can log off email at 6 p.m. will help lay out expectations and let employees know when they’re officially off the clock.

No Laptops In Meetings

Want to inspire creative thinking during that next team collaboration? Once a month, tell team members to leave their electronics behind and bring a pen and paper instead.

A 2014 study published in Psychological Science found that taking handwritten notes deepens conceptual thinking and helps the writer process information better. This is because taking notes electronically encourages dictation instead of notation. Employees are likely more focused on jotting down notes for later reference, instead of being engaged in the conversation at hand.

Instead of simply transcribing what’s being said (or checking social media profiles), employees will be forced to engage in the discussion at hand. This will result in more out-of-the-box thinking, collaboration and authentic contributions.

Breaks Are Mandatory

Employers shouldn’t limit tech breaks to after-hours and during meetings. Prolonged screen exposure can cause health issues such as frequent headaches, eye strain, fatigue and back pain. However, it can be difficult to remember to take the recommended 15-minute break after every hour of working.

Remind employees about the importance of stepping away from the screen during the workday. Whether it’s taking a walk around the block, weekly lunch outings or playing a game of ping pong, providing workers with regular diversions that will encourage them to give their minds a break and exhibit some sort of work-life balance will help productivity. Additionally, by encouraging face-to-face interactions, morale will be higher due to improved interpersonal communications, helping teams form stronger bonds.

Lead image via Pexels

Raven Brajdic

In anticipation of the impending robot takeover, Raven Brajdic covers tech and lifestyle for Knew Money. Before writing about our bionic despots, she represented them as a publicist for multiple national and local technology, consumer and lifestyle brands.

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Raven Brajdic

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