In the past when we went on holiday we were able to take a complete break from work and come back feeling refreshed. Now it seems many of us have become slaves to our smartphone. With 70% of smartphone users reporting that they have taken business calls during holidays from work (Ofcom) and 24% admitting to doing so regularly (Ofcom), it seems that peoples work life balance is not working as well as it should.
This is a relatively new risk area for employers to consider as we are only just starting to see the long term effects it can have.
Does it mean that feeling stressed is now the norm and that we are getting more stressed by us feeling that we are not in control?
Smartphone Anxiety: Getting scientific
One might dismiss claims of the effects of excessive Smartphone use as over-exaggerated, however there are numerous, scientific studies into this area that undeniably back such claims up.
One recent study by Dr Christine Grant, who works as an occupational psychologist at Coventry University’s Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement found that participants who travelled with technology were significantly more lethargic, anxious and stressed than their Smartphone-free counterparts.
Another important note from her research for business owners is that there is a price to pay for staff who are always accessible, and that comes in the form of stressed and tired employees who consequentially make more mistakes.
Not only this, but with the average cost of sickness per employee standing at £666 per annum (CIPD) and with an estimated 30% – 60% of this figure being accountable to workplace stress, it seems that employers have not only a moral duty to their employees, but an overwhelming financial responsibility to their company to at least assess the effect of staff Smartphone usage.
Workplace stress: A simplistic solution
In our experience we are seeing more people claiming workplace stress as a reason for absence. Developing a clear work / life balance could help to reduce such absences.
Employers could adopt Daimlers stance on using smartphones on holiday, or should at least have clear policies in place to ensure that they adhere to their duty of care to their employees.
Daimlers approach is a simple one to implement with customers who email an out-of-office employee being met with the following message:
“I am on vacation. I cannot read your email. Your email is being deleted. Please contact xxxx or yyyy if it’s really important, or resend the email after I’m back in the office.”
Such a solution might seem too radical to many employers and perhaps even to employees themselves; however it has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response from Daimlers’ customer base.
Conclusion: Employers and employees need to try and stop the ‘always on’ culture rather than giving in to this stress inducing addiction to Smartphones.
If this culture is allowed to continue it will inevitably lead to more stress related absences.
At Premier Choice we can help you put measures in place to protect your business against the costs of staff sickness. Whilst obviously covering the financial costs, an employee assistance program can also help your employees deal with their sickness issues too.