SMEs advised to revoke out of hours email access this Christmas amid stress concerns

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Small businesses should consider closing off their employees’ email access during evenings and weekends to protect their mental health, urge Aura Technology.

The strategic IT consultancy also advise employers to consider office pets, offering more sabbaticals and providing staff with fitness trackers and meditation apps that promote wellbeing in the workplace.

Their advice follows that 1 in 5 people in the UK experience work-related stress, anxiety or depression; accounting for over half of all working days lost to ill health in Britain.

According the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, two-fifths of workers also check their emails outside of working hours at least five times a day. One third can’t mentally switch off at home.

“Some employers reason that if their staff have out of hours email access then they will be more productive and in the short term that’s often true. However, the research on this is clear that working too many hours for too many consecutive days often leads to lost productivity over time, costing UK business £34.9 billion last year,” said Tim Walker, Managing Director.

“It’s also a major contributory cause of stress, anxiety and depression in the workplace. By limiting out of hours email access and using technology to promote wellbeing in the office, employers ward against the negative impact of burnout and common mental health issues”.

“By law, employers have a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments for staff struggling with stress, anxiety or depression and technology presents opportunities to tackle it.

“Restricting out of hours email and computer access prevents overworking and helps ensure that employees get the down time they need to protect their mental health and be productive in the workplace. Equally, offering more regular breaks, annual leave and sabbaticals can go a long way to making sure staff aren’t run into the ground.

“In the office, mobile apps like Calm and Headspace can promote positive thinking and help staff close off from their workday. Being around an office dog or cat also improves mood and stress levels. Gadgets like fitness trackers can also encourage regular physical activity around the office; exercise is one of the most effective ways to promote good mental health, yet many jobs require staff to remain seated throughout the day.

“Underutilisation can also be a significant stressor for some staff, so resource planning applications such as Resource Guru can help to identify these gaps. Online courses are also a great way to make sure people are being challenged and professionally nourished.”