The CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition is coming up soon and we’re looking forward to joining Rachel Suff, Policy Advisor at the CIPD, for a showcase session to discuss the impacts of technology on employee wellbeing, as well as other key findings from the CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Well-being at Work 2018. In advance of the session, let’s take a look at this topic.
Almost half (45%) of respondents in the CIPD/Simplyhealth report believe advances in technology have either a slightly positive or very positive effect on employee wellbeing1. Technology’s positive impacts on our working lives – and wellbeing – include being able to work flexibly and, being better connected through faster and easier communication. On the flipside, technology can mean that people find it hard to switch off from work and can feel stress caused by technology failures – both of which negatively impact wellbeing.
Technology is a thread woven into every life and every workplace. So, how can you make sure your organisation is using developments in technology to promote employee wellbeing? Here are three ways to start:
1. Wearable technology
Wearable technology, such as Fitbits and Apple watches, plays a key role in many people’s everyday lives. In 2017, 17% of people in the UK owned a wearable device, and this number is growing. Digital wellbeing devices are still a new concept for most businesses – only 9% of organisations offer employees the use of wearable technology to encourage wellbeing1 – there is clearly potential for growth in this area.
By offering wearable technology, you can motivate your workforce to take part in wellbeing challenges. For example, a challenge with targets that encourage increased activity, like moving away from desks, supporting physical wellbeing.
Wearable devices also provide the opportunity to recognise the physical signs of stress, so can be a powerful tool to help employees monitor and manage their mental health – especially alongside apps that are designed to support mental health issues.
2. Flexible working
74% of respondents in the CIPD/Simplyhealth report agree that a positive effect of advances in technology on wellbeing is that it enables flexible working1. Many of us already work flexibly. Technology empowers us to work wherever and whenever we choose, structuring our working hours around life commitments, or for when we are most productive – some people have their best ideas before dawn or after dinner!
Addressing work-life balance is crucial for wellbeing. 14% of employers say that long hours impacting work-life balance is a main cause of stress at work1. Enabling employees to work remotely or from home means they can redress that balance, positively impacting their mental wellbeing.
There are a number of digital solutions that can help your workforce stay connected wherever they might be working. Aside from ensuring they have the necessary equipment such as laptops and mobile phones, think of ways to make connectivity even easier – video calling, file sharing sites, and instant messaging can all help employees work smarter.
3. Virtual GP services
Virtual GP services are another wellbeing technology growing in number and popularity. Almost one quarter (23%) of employers offer access to GP services as a health and wellbeing benefit2. And there are many providers to choose from.
These services offer virtual consultations with GPs, most often on the phone or via a webcam. Some also offer these appointments on a 24/7 basis, allowing employees to speak to a GP at their convenience.
The easy availability of a virtual GP service could mean that employees are more likely to take care of their health, rather than being put off by long waiting times to visit a GP in person. In turn, this could have a positive impact on absenteeism and productivity, because employees can access the help they need, when they need it.
Learn more about this issue by joining us at the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition.
1CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Well-being at Work survey report, May 2018
2Corporate Decision Makers online survey, February 2017 - employee benefits offered by employers; 512 respondents