Have you heard of “technostress?” It’s a modern workplace killer and if you’re not familiar with it, you need to be because it’s a type of work anxiety that could be poisoning your employees.
It’s stress that can be directly traced back to technology and it is especially prevalent in workplaces where employees feel like they cannot get away from email outside of work hours.
More than just an irritant for employees, work anxiety caused by technostress can lead to serious health problems, including anxiety and depression.
It can even affect people’s physical well-being, according to Manchester Business School organizational psychologist Cary Cooper.
A study from 2016 says it’s not just the actual reading of emails outside of working hours that causes stress.
Even just the expectation of receiving work emails outside of work hours is enough to give people work anxiety in the form of technostress. Negatively affecting their health by leading to a feeling of burnout and throwing their work-life balance into disarray.
The Good News
However, both governments and businesses have acknowledged the existence of this modern type of work anxiety. They are taking steps to address the problem.
In France, the government passed a law at the beginning of 2017. It gives people the right to ignore work emails received outside of work hours.
Some corporations have even enacted policies that limit the time employees can receive work-related emails. These include German car companies BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen.
The Employer’s Role
Ultimately it’s up to companies to lead the way when it comes to not inundating their employees with work emails outside of working hours. You can do this by implementing policies in your own place of business and leading by example.
If you are a work leader, refrain from sending or responding to work emails when you’re at home after work or on the weekends.
On the flip side of that is the expectation that when employees are at work they are completely dedicating those hours to their jobs. This is fair to expect, especially if they are not dealing with work email at home.
The Employee’s Role
As an employee, you may feel like you have less power to put up boundaries with your personal time, but you also play a role in alleviating your work anxiety.
As an employee, you can talk to your manager and explain that you prefer to not deal with work outside of work hours.
Every workplace is different, but your manager should at least listen to your concerns and you should be able to reach an agreement with them.
If you feel confident enough doing it, you could just declare that you don’t deal with work email outside of work hours. However, it’s probably better to sit down and have a conversation with your manager if you feel that email is causing work anxiety.
You can also make sure your work email is not connected to your phone so you don’t get any notifications from it.
Or, if you have to have it on your phone, you can simply turn off notifications when you’re outside of work hours to lessen emotional stress.
For other things like text messages and social media messages, you will have to dig into your notification settings to be able to control those.
It is important to come to a mutual understanding with your supervisors about your boundaries.
If someone else comes along who doesn’t mind dealing with work emails in the evening and on weekends, that person could set themselves up for swift advancement through the company at the expense of others who guard their personal time more.
That is also another reason why it is best to have a workplace-wide policy that deals with work-related emails during non-work hours.
Technostress Need Not Be Difficult to Handle
Work anxiety caused by technostress may be the latest in employee health concerns, but it’s something that is relatively easy to deal with.
Theoretically, employees should never be expected to give more of their time to a company than they’re being compensated for.
With both governments and corporations leading the way, this is one health concern that can easily be dealt with before it gets out of control.