How leaders can help employees unplug and fight digital burnout

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Victoria Franca is a Board Certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and founder of Omni Wellness.

It’s no surprise that in today’s hyper-connected world, it’s often difficult to disconnect from the digital devices that dominate our lives. With the use of smartphones, social media and other digital technologies, many of us are always connected to the internet and bombarded with information and notifications.

Experiencing personal digital burnout has been an incredibly overwhelming and exhausting journey for me as a founder. The constant bombardment of screens, notifications and the pressure to always be connected has taken its toll. With the demand to maintain multiple online profiles and the blurred lines between work and personal life, it’s become clear to me that it’s important to take breaks, set boundaries, and have hobbies that go beyond social media to promote one’s emotional well-being. to support.

Digital burnout is a form of burnout that occurs when individuals experience excessive stress or exhaustion related to their use of technology. Too much screen time can influence an employee’s work and personal well-being, including decreased productivity, poor sleep quality, and increased stress.

Many people turn to digital detox programs as a way to disconnect from their devices. These programs can take many forms, such as a weekend away from social media or retreats that offer total disconnection from technology. However, disconnecting from technology is not always possible for leaders. As such, my recommendation is to approach the use of technology in a balanced and thoughtful way, rather than trying to eliminate it altogether or doing something that you would consider extreme. Start with slow changes, such as setting limits on device use, practicing mindfulness when using technology, and prioritizing time with family, friends, colleagues, and loved ones.

Your company can also play a vital role in supporting your employees’ digital detox efforts:

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Encourage breaks and free time.

Encouraging employees to take regular breaks and time off will help them disconnect and charge their devices. This includes things like encouraging employees to take a lunch break away from their screens, promoting vacation days, and creating a culture that values ​​work-life balance.

With my team, achieving work-life balance has been an essential journey in prioritizing wellness and maintaining a fulfilling personal life. Initially, I found it challenging to set boundaries and resist the temptation to be constantly connected to work. However, through open communication and collaboration with my team, we have worked together to create a supportive environment that values ​​work-life balance.

One action we have taken that other leaders may consider is introducing flexible working hours. This allows you to adapt your schedules to personal commitments and interests and create space for your team to do the same.

Setting clear expectations and establishing efficient workflows is also essential. Doing this at my company has allowed me to optimize my productivity during working hours, reducing the need for excessive overtime and allowing me to spend more time and energy offline disconnecting.

Provide education and training.

Many people may not realize the negative impact excessive technology use can have on their health and well-being. Providing education and training on the benefits of digital detox and how to disconnect from technology can help employees become more aware of how to use their devices and make positive changes.

Some of the best resources I’ve personally used and shared with my team are:

• Books: Numerous books delve deeper into the subject of digital burnout and offer practical guidelines for dealing with it.

• Documentaries: Documentaries can provide an in-depth exploration of the effects of technology and digital overload on our well-being.

• Podcasts: Podcasts provide a convenient way to access educational content about digital burnout.

Establish guidelines for the use of technology.

Companies can set clear guidelines for using technology, including expectations regarding email and message response times, and encourage employees to disconnect outside of work hours. This can help employees feel less pressure to be constantly connected to their devices.

Some examples of guidelines leaders could implement include:

• E-mail Response Expectations: Respond within 24 hours.

• Video calling: No video calling on Friday.

• Internal Messaging System: Check the messaging systems three times a day instead of every hour.

Create digital-free spaces.

To help employees disconnect and recharge, designate specific areas or times when digital technology is not allowed. Think of creating a telephone-free zone in the office or encouraging employees to leave their devices at home during company outings.

This may seem more complicated than it really is, but leaders need to lead by example and adhere to digital-free policies. When participants see leaders fully committed to the digital-free space, they are more likely to follow suit. Some great ways to introduce this without creating a specific space is to hold offline activities to promote connection, creativity, and relaxation. This could include group discussions, team building exercises, art projects, outdoor excursions, or mindfulness activities.

Offer digital detox programs.

Some companies are starting to offer digital detox programs to support employee wellness. These programs can include things like wellness retreats, mindfulness training, or opportunities to disconnect from technology during work hours.

To deliver a successful digital detox program, three things are important:

• Clear communication and education: Many employees may not be aware of the potential negative consequences of excessive digital use or the benefits of disconnecting. Providing information about the purpose, goals and benefits of digital detoxing helps employees understand its importance and motivate their participation.

• Leadership support and encouragement: When leaders actively endorse and participate in digital detox programs, it sends a strong message to employees that disconnecting from technology is not only allowed, but appreciated.

• Company culture: Leadership support of digital detoxing also creates a culture that prioritizes employee well-being. When this becomes part of your company’s culture, I believe it can benefit the longevity of your company and your employees.

By taking these steps, companies can support their employees in their efforts to disconnect from technology. Ultimately, supporting the decoupling of technology can benefit your employees and the organization as a whole.


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