Why the never switching off culture is damaging your workforce’s health

Shocking research has revealed that commuters are so regularly using travel time for work emails that their journeys should be counted as part of the working day. The study from the University of the West of England highlights that the advancement of technology with WI-FI on trains and the speed of mobile phones has extended the day.

Have we created a workplace culture where you can’t switch off? Was it started by employees trying to get ahead or by employers who are demanding more? Is it due to peer pressure and constantly trying to keep up or is it what is expected of employees now?

Incorpore’s management have recently ended all work-based message groups to discourage out of hours work discussions and those employees who carry a dedicated work phone have been discouraged from reading and sending emails once the working day has finished. We believe the out of hours email culture is leading to the increase in poor mental health. We want our employees to disconnect at the end of the day, be physically and mentally well and stress-free within their work environment.

We want our employees to work hard, have fun and enjoy themselves which is why we have a food treat week in December and are organising a bring your pets to work day in October for a local charity. Once your working day is finished, it is over and employees should enjoy their life!

James Shillaker, Director at Incorpore, said “Checking your emails on your phone is a form of addiction. We live in a 24/7 world where the culture isn’t suited to employees switching off once they leave work. I don’t think the issue is limited to the commute to work either – it has become the ‘norm’ for people to check their emails and messages at home or at social events.  Who created the culture of constantly checking phones? I’m not sure that bosses dictated this but if more likely ambitious employees who were showing off the latest phone and created the values that if you weren’t contactable 24/7 you can’t succeed. Work life has become selfish, impatient and we are obsessed with our own importance. Your emails can wait until the morning.”

Have you ever wondered how the unhealthy workplace culture can affect your workforce?

Constantly emotionally stressed
Technology has forever changed the usual 9-5 work hours and has replaced it with a 24/7 work ethic, meaning you are always chained to your desk and cannot properly switch off which is leaving employees constantly emotionally stressed. A 2015 study by Microsoft highlighted that of 3,000 UK workers, 69% are regularly required to work outside of their official hours. The change in what is deemed normal work hours has also pathed the way for flexible working, however, it isn’t necessarily more beneficial. A report by the CIPD has found that “flexible workers are much less likely to report being under excessive pressure than people who don’t work flexibly, with 29% of flexible workers saying they are under excessive pressure every day or once or twice a week compared with 42% of people who don’t work flexibly.”

Productivity decrease
Research has shown that a long-hours working culture can be counterproductive in terms of employee productivity and is damaging to their health. It is vital for employees to take breaks throughout the day and stop working in the evening, otherwise staff won’t be able to recharge and be productive. Government figures have shown that productivity is collapsing and is far below what it was before 2007. If employees are constantly switched on, then morale will be low and

Exhausted employees
Having to constantly be checking your emails or doing work out of office hours can be exhausting and mentally draining. France have taken a proactive approach to deal with the issue and French employees have the legal right to avoid work emails outside of working hours. The “right to disconnect” law came into force on September 1st as employees were expected to check and reply to their work emails out of hours, they weren’t being paid fairly for their overtime and were running the risk of stress, burnout, sleep problems and relationship difficulties. Working abnormal or long hours has also been linked to depression, anxiety and even heart disease. The weekend is meant to be a time to relax and recover from the stress of the week but high job demands are causing people to struggle to disconnect.