Using technology to improve employee wellbeing
Published by: LifeWorks,
Every year, businesses introduce new and ever more sophisticated technology into their organizations to help record and analyze data, organize hectic schedules, communicate with customers and colleagues, and so much more. The value of technology in improving business processes and efficiency is well publicized, but in our 24/7, hyper-connected culture, do we give enough consideration to how technology can support employee wellbeing?
Technology can be a powerful enabler of employee wellbeing and morale.
I would suggest not. Whilst it can be suggested that technology is the source of many employee wellbeing issues, a number of which stemming from the ‘always on’ culture it has helped create, there are examples of how it can be a powerful enabler of employee wellbeing and morale.
Counseling and coaching at your fingertips
Employees may be less inclined to use face-to-face counseling and coaching if they are required to publicly request them via a line manager or an HR department.
Thanks to open forums and online counseling and coaching services, however, employees can discreetly, directly and confidentially speak to experts about workplace struggles or disputes, or any issues affecting their work-life balance. Some employers offer these services within employee counseling programs to promote wellbeing at work, giving employees an outlet for concerns and issues they may be facing.
Remote working, mobility and communication
The widespread use of cloud and network technology has supported a surge in flexible working in recent years. Many employers now encourage remote working to promote a healthy work-life balance and to help ease the pressure on staff juggling work with commitments at home, such as childcare.
91% of remote workers feel they are more productive working this way.
Employees can work on the go whilst accessing internal company networks, and can be contactable via phone, tablet or laptop from anywhere. According to a recent study in the US by TINYPulse, 91% of full-time remote workers that were surveyed felt they were more productive working in this way. Communication, shared working and instant messenger tools such as Skype, Google Drive and Yammer not only aid flexible working, but also ensure that employees can create productive online communities and collaborate effectively in groups from wherever they are in the world.
Apps to support disabled workers
Collaboration and engagement between a diverse workforce is also key to productivity and morale. Building teams that includes those with disabilities brings many advantages – creativity, varying perspectives on issues, and different approaches to solve them. A number of iOS and Android apps, accessible anytime and anywhere on mobile or tablet, have been developed to support those with disabilities in the workplace. These are of significant help for those who are hard of hearing, blind, dyslexic or autistic, for example.
Apps can break down barriers of communication between deaf and hearing workers.
One such app that breaks down the barriers of communication between deaf and hearing workers is Motionsavvy. This uses voice recognition software and a specialized camera to convert sign language and spoken word into text. Autistic workers can benefit from the Brain in Hand app, which provides personal pre-planned coping strategies, a diary and solutions for tasks that are difficult to remember. These are just two examples of many, demonstrating how apps have become a driving force in helping staff overcome disabilities, improving workplace performance and tackling employee stress management.
Technology enables communication, problem solving, access to advice and coaching, and creative collaboration.
Perhaps, then, we should see technology as more than simply a productive and efficient way of working. Technology enables communication, problem solving, access to advice and coaching, and creative collaboration between employees, and these tools are readily available and constantly evolving. A work-life balance is increasingly important to staff and should be at the top of the agenda for employers, too – and technology can be a valuable ally in helping tackle these workplace needs.