The impact of technology on mental well-being

Aug 25, 2020 | Business, Technology, Wellbeing

Technology is getting more advanced and although this is a positive progression in many industries, it also has some major drawbacks. 

People are becoming more and more aware of the importance of mental well-being, especially in the work environment. With increased research into mental health issues, we’ve also found that the decrease in mental health has been drastic in the last couple of years. One in four adults in the UK have some kind of mental health disorder, most commonly anxiety and depression. 

Although there can be many reasons, technology is one of the most important ones. 

Fight for attention

Some of the most successful applications have been designed specifically for your consumption of content. For example, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube and many more, all consist of never-ending content and scrolling. This is being increasingly used by businesses by advertising on these platforms. At this time, you are unable to open up a social media page without getting exposed to some kind of branding or advert of products. 

In recent years, this trend has leaked into enterprise applications as well, where the softwares used by businesses will follow the same pattern, notifications and gamification. This means that now you are constantly exposed to ads, at work or at home, which can be very mentally tiring. 

This dangerous desire for eyeballs leaves people unable to focus on what is important and keep getting distracted by the wrong things. It also leads to missed deadlines, poor work quality, low productivity and therefore, increased levels of stress and anxiety. 

Instant communication

Technology has improved the ways in which we communicate significantly and for the most part this is a great development. Being able to get in touch with people in a matter of seconds just by connecting to the internet saves us a lot of time and even money. This is especially true in the workplace and in case of emergencies. 

However, what we don’t realise is that this continuous communication has increased the levels of anxiety at the workplace. Employees now feel like there is an expectation for immediate response, as the new messaging tools allow for it. This means that even when the enquiry is not urgent, your workers may still be pressured into replying, even on their days off or holidays. This blurs the line between your employee’s personal and professional life, which also takes away the sense of privacy. As a result, your workers may start feeling more stressed, as they don’t get proper rest during their days off.

Problematic use of internet

Going online is incredibly accessible nowadays and it can negatively affect our mental health in some very minor ways. For instance, the social media platforms that most of your employees are active on can have significant impact on their self-confidence and social life. People use social media to get affirmation, consciously or not, and we end up comparing ourselves to others. This ends up causing feelings of depression.. 

Additionally, the internet allows us to quickly search for answers to any question you may think of. As amazing as it is, this can also cause anxiety. For example, that time you search your symptoms online and get scared into thinking that you are dying from a rare disease… Too much access to information can be harmful, especially when a lot of it is false and taken out of context. 

What can you do to help it as a manager?

As a business owner, you cannot get rid of technology completely as it is likely used for almost every of your daily tasks. You can, however, try and minimise the way technology impacts your employees at work. This should be your top priority at all times, as happy staff will create a good work culture – it is the way to a sustainable workplace. 

Here are some things you can do to safeguard your employees mental well-being: 

  • Re-address the work-life balance – The work-life balance is getting lost in this always-on, digital-first society. Try and rebuild it by allowing your employees to have time off without getting interrupted by work.
  • Have a 7 to 7 rule – This is a great method used by some business owners, meaning that your employees cannot be disturbed before 7am and after 7pm (unless it’s an absolute emergency). 
  • Don’t expect instant communication – Immediate responses is the new normal in most businesses and that is why your employees may feel the pressure to respond straight away, even if the message can wait. Make sure your employees know that they can respond when they are free and ready and try to do the same yourself.
  • Show a good example – Managers have a great influence on how employees behave – you set the example of what behaviour is desired and expected from your employees. So, if you want your staff to not feel anxious about work during their time off, you should try and not work on yours. Switch off on the weekends and leave the office at a reasonable time – your staff notice when you do the opposite and feel the pressure to do the same.
  • Carefully select the tools you use – The softwares, communication platforms and any other tools your employees use are extremely influential to how productive and efficient your team is. Invest in technology that allows your staff to communicate and work in sustainable, distraction-free ways. Perhaps also consider investing in a good AdBlock..


Final thoughts…

There is absolutely no way we could complain about technology as a whole. It allows us to be more connected in the global scope than ever before and enables many more business opportunities. However, we cannot ignore the facts – technology can be very harmful to our mental health and this includes your employees. As a business owner, you need to learn how to use technology to your benefits, while prioritising your team’s well-being.