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What is Digital Health, and How Does it Affect Your People?

July 17, 2018 / Employee Engagement

As Apple and Google are encouraging their employees to take breaks from email, conduct laptop-free meetings, and escape an “always on” culture, it’s clear that concerns over digital health are on the rise. But what is digital health? And what does it mean for your employees in our hyper-connected world?

Digital health refers to an individual’s relationship with the digital world, the amount of time he or she spends interacting with screens and the level of pressure they feel to be connected. This usually refers their professional lives but can also include online gaming, social media, and moving image consumption. A 2016 Nielsen Company audience report indicated that adults in the U.S. spend over 10½ hours per day looking at screens, including tablets, smartphones, personal computers, multimedia devices, video games, radios, DVDs, DVRs and TVs.

Being “On” Leads to Burnout

At first glance, it seems counter-intuitive. Part of the benefit of technology in our working culture is that it allows employees to communicate, ask each other questions, and provide better service to customers and clients. Plus, our always-with-us devices make it easier than ever to do just that.

However, employers are finding this is not without dire consequences. As interconnectivity increases, so do levels of stress, burnout, and employee turnover nationwide. So much so that there’s proposed legislation in NYC that would protect employees from taking business calls or answering emails after business hours.

Furthermore, as it shakes out, being “on” is bad for productivity. Nearly 60% of tech workers suffer from burnout, leading to depression, heart disease, and rapidly-rising employer health benefit cost.

Organizations Need Healthy Productivity

Ultimately, HR leaders are seeking individuals that can work hard, bring the best of their talent to the organization, and live healthy lives. This means fostering healthy productivity, and not productivity at the expense of mental health or producing sub-par work product.

There are many ways to help foster digital health within your organization, and they don’t all have to be radical culture changes. Here are just a few:

  • Encourage employees to block off breaks on their calendar, just like they do meetings.
  • Stock the kitchen so a healthy snack break is always an option during the day.
  • Encourage walking meetings or brisk walks with team members to get outside and enjoy fresh air.
  • Encourage mindfulness and meditation. If you’re a Virgin Pulse client, you can take full advantage of our partnership with Whil.
  • As always, your management team is your best ally when it comes to culture change. If you find that the above tips aren’t sticking, make sure that management is leading by example.

To learn more about mindfulness and how it rewires our brains to be more focused, resilient and high performing read our E-Book: The Competitive Advantage of Mindfulness.

 

 

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