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Since 2020, many businesses have rolled out massive technology.  New platforms, new processes, and more automation have been some of the most common deployments.  Employees are more ‘connected’ than ever.  For many, the biggest challenge has not been whether employees can be productive when working from home, but how to keep employees from being overwhelmed.  In this article, we explore technology overload in an ‘always-on’ culture which is key to avoid employee brownouts.  In addition, we provide some suggestions for how technology can support employee health and well-being.

Technology Overload

Technology rollouts and deployments have overwhelmed leaders and their employees, but the impact is different based on each level within the organization.  In a recent study, PWC found that “92% of the C-Suite are satisfied with the technology experience their company provides, while only 68% of their staff agree.”  The contrast between decision makers and users is even more exacerbated when the employees feel overwhelmed by technology at work.  It’s important to have a strategic approach to technology within your organization.  Weighing the pros and cons of technology deployments should take into consideration employee overload and the required training and integration by your staff.   What are the productivity elements associated with taking employees away from their core areas of efficiency?  Is the ROI worth it or would it be better to delay a rollout?  Sometimes, the best advice may come from a technology advisor outside your organization – think of the idiom ‘you can’t see the forest for the trees’.  An experienced technology consultant can also provide valuable outside perspective on viable solutions, integration strategies, and ease the burden on internal support teams.

An Always-On Culture

The ‘Always-On’ mindset is a big concern for many organizations.  Aetna completed a study in March of 2020, just prior to the pandemic peak, on the correlation between the “always-on” culture and employee stress, anxiety, and burnout [i.e. employee brownouts are also a newer, larger concern].  The study found two main themes:

  1. Technology has the power to improve and support employee physical and mental health,
  2. Company culture is required to curb the always-on phenomenon and empower people to switch off, and for leaders to set the example.

Simon Miller notes in the report, “It’s well within an employer’s control to implement tailored solutions to support the mental and physical well-being of their workforce.”  The report concludes that there is a “clear opportunity for organizations to harness the positives of technology, but an equally clear imperative to diminish the negatives.”  Many employees also note that their own mental and physical health has taken a lower priority because of work and productivity requirements.

Developing a culture, across the organizational hierarchy, is an important aspect of creating a culture that empowers employees to unplug.  Employees feel the pressure to meet the boss’ expectations and often mirror a mentor’s example.  Failing to recognize or nurture this process can result in employee brownouts.  With more and more employees experiencing overload, many are simply opting out altogether by choosing jobs with fewer work hours, less responsibility, or more flexibility.  So, it’s important to empower employees to unplug.  We discuss how to encourage employees to unplug and reduce employee brownouts, in an upcoming article.

Empowering Employees to Unplug

One of the simplest ways to address the always-on culture is by creating an alternative culture that empowers employees to unplug.  Creating scheduled quiet time where employees aren’t expected to respond to every message, chat, and email during certain hours can be accomplished with the right culture.  Technology can help with auto-responders that help manage expectations for response times.  This type of culture not only empowers employees employees to take needed time away from the screen, but truly enjoy the mental health benefits of unplugging and destressing. Rolling shifts, across departments, can be coordinated to ensure that business operations continue to meet overall business expectations.

If your organization is concerned about your culture, the impact of technology, and ways to overcome technology overload, the team at Conscious Networks can help!  Our technology advisors are in touch with today’s business owners needs and can help you create a holistic approach to this issue!  Schedule a call or consultation to get started.


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