- Employees are struggling to leave work at work — especially millennials, a SimplyHired survey found. The results showed that while baby boomers could leave work behind them when "off the clock," the younger generation admitted to being unable to stop thinking about work. SimplyHired attributed the cause to mobile technology and, specifically, to the constant intake of emails.
- SimplyHired said that although millennials may be the greatest advocates for work-life balance, they're less able than other generations to act on the notion. Survey results showed that while 58% of baby boomers said that transitioning from work to home at day's end wasn't difficult, just 36.2% of millennials said they felt the same. Millennials also were the most likely to describe making the transition from work to home as "somewhat difficult."
- Survey results also showed that employees with the highest job satisfaction and those with the highest stress levels both dealt with the inability to disconnect from work by turning off notifications, which SimplyHired said can reduce stress and boost productivity. The job board added that putting in extra work hours can increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes, alcohol consumption, depression, heart disease, stroke and even cancer.
There's no question that technology has blurred the line between work and personal time. The digital tools designed to make people more productive also distract them and make them less able to disconnect from work. A GoTo study released in June found that the 2,000 office employees polled are "toggling between work and personal topics on any one of the hundreds of apps and devices they use." Given the health, productivity and morale problems that result from employees being unable to "turn off" from work, employers can step in to mitigate the problem by encouraging workers to take time off, disconnect from work and minimize office distractions.
Some experts believe that more thoughtful adoption of workforce tools by employers could help rein in the over-connected problem. Mike May, senior director of the Workforce Dimensions Technology Partner Program at Kronos, told HR Dive in an email that HR should work with IT and operations for collaboration tools to be useful. "How many applications are employees switching between in a given day and how much time are they spending in each application?" said May. "Can any of these applications be integrated on the back-end so that the employee only has one intuitive front-end interface to learn? It's frustrating for an employee when they feel like they need to 're-learn' an application every time they use it because it is only accessed once or twice a week."
But even if employers decided to make disconnecting from work during off times a company policy, employees in a Robert Half Technology survey said managers wouldn't abide by such policies. For such policies to work, company culture should enable people to take time off without guilt — and enable managers to grant time off in ways that don't hurt the team.
"Right to disconnect" policies have been under consideration due to a concern about workers' health. New York City considered a bill that would prohibit private employers from requiring workers to check and answer email and other communications beyond work hours. However, there's uncertainty over whether such legislation could coincide with current laws, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, which mandates that employees be paid for every hour they work.