One of the defining aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the increasing role that technology has played in our lives.
And yet, as we’ve become more dependent on tech to connect us professionally, the stories we hear are often more about how bad it is for us.
Our growing reliance on technology
It might be remote workers who are slaves to an ‘always-on’ culture, who never stop working and who burn themselves out replying to emails at 1am. Or the exhaustion our brain feels as it struggles to translate the blurry image on a Zoom call into the physical signals we pick up on when we talk to someone in the flesh. Or the ‘doom-scrolling’ we do through social media as we fight the fear of missing out.
The argument goes that while technology has brought us closer together in some ways over the last few months, it has also brought us closer to the brink.
Yet of course that’s not the whole story. In fact, technology also has an important role to play in positively helping with employee mental health and wellbeing. Here are a few ways that that’s happening.
Creating a social support network
Most of us are now comfortable using technology to do everything from holding meetings to collaborating on projects. We see each other on Zoom calls, comment on each other’s work on OneDrive, collaborate in MS Teams. Technology has rapidly filled the gap left by face-to-face, in-person interaction in a physical workspace. And while they’re not perfect, these technologies have done a good job of creating a professional social network.
But just as a meeting room in the office can be used as easily for a formal meeting as it can for a catch up about last night’s Strictly, it’s important to remember that this technology can be used for informal interactions too. It doesn’t always have to be a video call either (although a Zoom quiz is a great way to unwind). Texts, emails and even phone calls are still important ways to check in with colleagues informally too.
A chance to truly target employee support
Technology is now also being used to help with employee mental health and wellbeing in other very practical, direct ways as well.
A great example is the focused support that companies can now give employees using data from wearable devices or smartphone health tracking apps. Employees can consent to share this health data when they sign up for a corporate wellness scheme.
Using this data then gives employers an opportunity to focus health and wellbeing support in far more targeted ways. This might be providing employee discounted courses with a positive mental health provider like Headspace. Or offering specific, structured one-to-one support for issues like poor sleep.
A driver for engagement
Finally, technology has a crucial role to play in employee engagement too – something that has a direct and powerful relationship with mental health and wellbeing.
What contributes to employee engagement? Well, when employees feel they have a stake in your company’s success and feel they’re recognised and rewarded for their contribution. When they feel they have clear leadership. When they like the culture of the organisation and feel it’s helping them to grow. When they feel supported and listened to.
We see this in action with our own app, Cognito. Its simple but powerful approach embeds learning and encourages behaviours that contribute to a positive workplace culture. It helps leaders to feel closer to their teams, giving them a sense of their strengths and weaknesses and helping them to support when and where it’s most needed. Its gamification features encourage healthy competition and engagement between individuals and teams.
We’re living through a time where, by necessity, many of us are relying on technology to stay connected. And while there is a danger that tech can be a cause of burnout, there’s a big opportunity for it to be a cure for it too. To find out how Cognito can help your people, call us today on 01423 203 733.