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BPS News

UK employers could do more to encourage staff to switch off at home

09 January 2017

Less than half of UK businesses and organisations provide employees with guidance on how to switch off from work when they go home.

This is one of the central findings of a survey conducted by Dr Almuth McDowall (Birkbeck, University of London) and Professor Gail Kinman (University of Bedfordshire), who presented their results at the Division of Occupational Psychology annual conference in Liverpool last week.

Dr Kinman said:

“From January 1st, French workers have the right to disconnect from email to avoid the intrusion of work into their private lives and protect them against burnout. We wanted to know what are UK organisations doing to protect employees against the risks of being always on?”

More than 370 UK organisations drawn from across a range of sectors took part in the survey, with the findings revealing that less than 50 per cent of those surveyed providing their employees with guidance on how to switch off and a similar number having no formal policies in place to help employees balance work demands with personal life.

While some respondents acknowledged that using devices such as smartphones could improve communication at work and boost productivity (24 per cent), the negative effects of technology on relationships at work (21 per cent) and wellbeing (27 per cent) were also highlighted.

Dr Kinman commented:

“Our findings clearly show that organisations are not helping their staff accommodate to the changing world of work which is likely to have a negative impact on their wellbeing, their work-life balance and their effectiveness. Many individuals we surveyed clearly feel under great pressure not to switch off, leading to intense pressure, poorer performance and worry about what the immediate future holds.

“It’s time to take a more proactive approach to helping employees and organisations become more ‘e-resilient’ and to manage technology in a more healthy and sustainable way”.

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