Why you need to add the emerging topic of digital wellbeing to your World Mental Health Day plans

It’s World Mental Health Day on 10th October, and if you don’t already have plans for the biggest mental health awareness day of the year, here’s why digital wellbeing needs to be your headlining subject

At a time when technology use has significantly increased for work and social connection, organisations wanting to make commitments this World Mental Health Day to enhance workplace wellbeing should look no further than investing in healthy digital habits. There are new things we need to be thinking about when it comes to workplace mental health, now that the future of work is digital!

Microsoft’s Hybrid Work Trends Report shows that the number of meetings per person has grown substantially since the pandemic began. We are now drowning in chat messages and working more out of hours. Over-consumption of technology is linked to increases in anxiety, stress and sleep difficulties. In the same period of increased online activity, Glint’s survey of LinkedIn users reported a trend of worsening burnout, reduced sense of belonging and ultimately, lower happiness at work.

Buffer’s research has shown that the greatest struggle for remote workers is the inability to unplug from the always on working day. The work-life balance issue was propelled to the top spot in the 2021 post pandemic survey and remains there this year. And research this summer from Glassdoor Economic Research reveals that negative discussion about burnout amongst UK workers is up 48 percent in the last 12 months – this reinforces that we are feeling and talking about burnout more, and digital plays a key part. 

Microsoft’s Work Trends Index highlighted that employees are rethinking their “worth it” equation and voting with their feet. In particular, Gen Z and millennials are leaving their employers on the hunt for jobs which are sustainable, citing the top five reasons for leaving as: personal wellbeing or mental health (24%), work-life balance (24%), risk of getting COVID-19 (21%), lack of confidence in senior management/ leadership (21%), and lack of flexible work hours or location (21%). You may not know it yet, but our digital culture can play into all of these factors!

Your headlining subject for World Mental Health Day must be digital burnout

“As we look to create a better future of work, addressing digital exhaustion must be a priority for leaders everywhere.” (Microsoft, Work Trends Index, March 2021).

Of all the measures of wellbeing, burnout is the most concerning because it’s caused by long-term over-exertion and stress. By the time you’re seeing signs of burnout, you’re already past the best time for intervention. This makes burnout an important sign that we can do more to care for our people in their digital working environments, by creating conditions for high performance, good mental health and a sense of belonging.

While the statistics paint a gloomy picture of the impact of digital technology on wellbeing, they also present an opportunity for organisations to be forward thinking and care for digital employee experience. Those organisations who get this right will find that this becomes their strategic advantage. Dropbox is one example – through investing in remote culture they have increased applicants per role and broadened the diversity of their people during the time of the Great Resignation.

Even the World Health Organisation and International Labour Organization have recommended training and guidelines on Digital Etiquette, to reduce the psychosocial and mental health impact of digital work. This is now a board-level issue and a high priority for some of the largest companies in the digital sector.

Harness digital wellbeing for your business and your people

Creating a healthy digital culture for your people will reduce their stress, isolation and loneliness while improving their work-life balance, sense of belonging and creativity. It will also work wonders for your business performance by improving productivity, diversity in your output and increasing your rate of staff retention. It can yield an impressive return on investment, too. Deloitte research shows a 5:1 return on money spent supporting mental health at work. All told, there is a wealth of research showing the benefits of effective digital working environments.

Successful implementation of digital wellbeing in your workplace requires the right combination of strategy, insights from data and training:

  • Taking an intentional approach to the workplace culture will give you a holistic view of how the needs of your people align with your business goals.
  • Creating a healthy digital culture starts with awareness of the challenges faced by your organisation. Data-driven solutions can help you to identify opportunities to positively transform your working culture.
  • High-quality training allows you to focus on your identified priority areas. Use surveys to check in with your employee experiences as you progress through your digital wellbeing journey.

Digital wellbeing experts Live More Offline offer consultancy, data-driven solutions and training for creating healthy and productive digital cultures. We offer courses on a range of topics to care wellbeing, performance, loneliness and equality in a digital age, where attendees come away with practical tools to create healthier digital habits to improve mental health and thrive at work.

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To find out more about the ways in which Live More Offline can support your organisation