Technology promotes productivity, but it also can boost burnout if it adds time-consuming steps and reduces personal interactions.
It wasn’t too long ago that workers were tethered to desktop computers, and laptops and mobile devices were unheard of. In fact, today’s digital workplace bears little resemblance to the same space 20 years ago. All of these changes have improved productivity and efficiency, but they also have caused stress. According to one study, 61% of employees think that the pace of change in technology is too fast; and more than half worry about losing their job due to automation or because they lack the skills to keep up. As software and other digital tools evolve, HR and other leaders need to keep employees trained, engaged, and motivated. By keeping their eyes on the prize, they can prevent the stress and burnout that lead to turnover.
For a functional, finely-tuned, and worker-friendly digital workplace, consider five priorities moving forward:
- Focus on mental health. Remember that digital work isn’t a job with a definitive endpoint. There’s always one more email to send, more data to enter, another report to generate, etc. This sense of never being finished or done with work can be exhausting. Make sure employees aren’t overloaded. Set reasonable goals, and help workers see how their efforts positively contribute to the organization.
- Improve communication intimacy. Encourage facetime, even when it’s digital. Use Zoom, Skype, or other tools to hold video meetings and conferences so that people get to know each other. Whenever possible, hold regular in-person meetings or get-togethers. Lunch, a happy hour, or a trip to a baseball game or escape room can be tremendously team-building.
- Decentralize processes. Work with technology vendors and your IT staff to implement tools and technology that will decentralize processes and make actions such as requesting leave or viewing pay slips accessible to employees without extra training or additional steps added to their workloads.
- Minimize distractions. Work with your IT team and software vendors to develop a system of seamless interoperability. This will reduce the constant interruptions involved with switching from one tool or application to another. At the same time, tools such as artificial intelligence transcription and virtual assistance will help workers better manage their time and work smarter.
- Measure productivity fairly. Seek ways to accurately and fairly measure employee output, particularly for offsite or remote workers. This will enable you to fairly assess productivity and provide richer data-driven insights about worker productivity.