With technology pressuring us to ‘be on’ 24/7, taking a digital detox can provide many benefits.
Troy Hams, general insurance manager at Provident Insurance Services, explains how taking regular breaks from technology during the day can fight brain-drain and help boost your staff’s wellbeing and productivity.

Signs that employees need a digital detox

Are your employees addicted to their smartphones and other digital devices? If so, it may be time for a digital detox. Studies show that by turning off all devices, even for 15 minutes, employees are able to focus better without having to give up the benefits of a digital connection.

Some signs that your employees may be in need of a digital detox include:
  • Sitting at their desks at lunchtime, catching up on work or surfing the web.
  • Routinely checking and responding to work emails and messages outside office hours.
  • Instead of disconnecting on holiday, they feel they must stay on top of work.
  • Not taking sufficient technology breaks throughout the day.

While employees can feel a need to be available at all times, not taking regular breaks can lead to increased stress levels, lower job satisfaction, increased negativity and burnout. But it's not just employees who are paying the price. Job-related stress is costing employers hundreds of billions of dollars each year due to lost productivity, higher medical costs and employee turnover.

The benefits of taking a digital detox

From increased concentration to greater creativity, the benefits of taking a digital detox throughout the day are many. Just like the other muscles in your body, the brain gets fatigued with too much activity. Regular breaks allow the brain to rest, giving it renewed energy to push through challenging activities.

According to a recent study by Staples:
  • 59 per cent of respondents said that regular breaks would improve the quality of their work.
  • 76 per cent of employees said that a well-stocked and comfortable break room would help them unwind and relieve stress.
  • 43 per cent said that regular breaks would lead to greater personal happiness.
  • While individual needs vary, some experts recommend taking a 15-minute break for every 50 to 90 minutes of intensive work, as this has been shown to maximise performance.

How businesses can encourage employees to take a digital detox

With effective "breaking" being the secret force behind workplace productivity, it's important for employers to encourage their staff to get away from their desks and disconnect from all technology at lunchtime, as well as for short periods throughout the day.

Some suggestions include:
  • Providing a well-equipped and technology-free break room that encourages socialising.
  • Creating a nap culture. With afternoon drowsiness costing employers billions every year in lost productivity, short naps can actually increase performance throughout the day.
  • Encouraging employees to get outside – spending time in nature and exercising can increase energy and generate positive feelings.
  • Enforcing a company-wide digital detoxing policy, such as by turning off mail servers after hours.

But perhaps the most important suggestion of all is to create a workplace culture that supports digital detoxing. Because employees often feel guilty about perceived ‘slacking off’, many don't take a break when they actually should. When employees know that taking a break is not only acceptable but necessary for good job performance, they will be more inclined to do it.

At a time when many employers expect round-the-clock communication, encouraging employees to take a digital detox is not just good for your employees – it's good for your business and bottom line too.

Here are seven tips for avoiding burnout so you can keep your employees happy and healthy.

Cresmont Holdings Pty Ltd ABN 59 079 927 245 trading as Provident Insurance Services is an Authorised Representative of Resilium Pty Ltd ABN 40 098 080 810 AFSL No. 232703 and Ausure Pty Ltd ABN 94 096 971 854 AFSL No. 238433. The information contained in this article does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any person. Before making a decision, you should consider whether it is appropriate in light of your particular objectives, financial situation or needs.

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