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Business technology has the potential to boost mental health in the workplace

Business technology has the potential to boost mental health in the workplace

Artificial intelligence, intranet platforms and time management tools are just some of the ways businesses can make use of technology to manage stress, beyond the standard meditation apps

While social media and too much screen time can increase the risk of depression and anxiety, technology can also have positive outcomes on our mental wellbeing too – even in our busy digital world. Many of us will be familiar and fond of clever apps like Headspace, Calm and Stop, Breathe & Think which can offer support with a number of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

The main cause of stress for adults in the UK is their place of work as revealed by studies from Perkbox. Alarmingly, over one in five experience moderate to high levels of stress at work several times a week. According to research, the biggest work-related contributor to stress is long working hours, which impacts 21 per cent of people. Happiness in a job is essential to employee productivity, with 39 per cent working harder if they’re happy in their current job or workplace (One4all).

Here are ways businesses can make use of technology to manage stress, beyond the standard meditation apps.

1. Artificial intelligence

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.

Artificial intelligence: its impact on the franchise sector

2. Engaging intranet platforms

Businesses with frontline or remote workers consistently report issues with engagement – 21 per cent of businesses cite low engagement amongst frontline staff as a barrier, while 78 per cent 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 are 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 per cent 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.

3. Time management tools

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 per cent 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.

4. Long-term dedication from businesses

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.

The author
Natasha Bougourd is from TSG, a managed IT services business with locations around the UK, specialising in IT support and solutions, security and applications including Office 365 and Sage.

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