Is Smartphone Use Causing Stress Within An “Always On” Culture?

Every year, 400,000 people in the UK claim work related stress is making them ill, according to Dr Alasdair Emslie, president of the Society of Occupational Medicine, as reported by the BBC. He says changes in technology are contributing to this stress. It’s not a surprise when you consider the “always-on” state many of us currently exist in, both in our work and personal lives.

Smartphones are a fantastic invention in many ways. They allow us to stay connected, do business from anywhere and everywhere and in theory increase our level of productivity. But is this “always connected” approach to business causing the work-life balance to go awry? Some experts think it is; that the increased demands of smartphone connectivity is making employees feel as though they’re unable to cope.

Increasing smartphone use

Ofcom reports that the amount of time we spend connected to media is rising. In fact, smartphones have caused our daily total media consumption to grow from 8 hours 48 minutes in 2010 to over 11 hours in 2014.

Many of us check our smartphones first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Three quarters of people are even reported to take their phones into the loo with them. Literally the only break from smartphones is sleep. Checking work emails and calls at all hours of the day isn’t giving employees the time and space they require to switch off, or spend time with their families or pursuing other interests.

Plus, according to a PwC report called The Future of Work – A Journey To 2022, we’re not working more productively even despite all of this extra data and connectivity.

The business consequences

If employees are expected to be constantly connected to their smartphones for work purposes, companies may well witness an increase in stress levels. Stress goes hand in hand with increased employee absenteeism, as well as unhealthy practices like drinking, smoking, and eating junk food.

On top of this, there is the problem of overworking. The European Working Time Directive caps the working week at 48 hours with an 11 hour break within every 24 hours. Employees won’t be operating under this legislation if they’re glued to their smartphones morning, noon and night.

Legislation and occupational health surrounding smartphone use is a serious issue for modern businesses – have you considered it carefully enough?

OHBM is a professional Manchester-based occupational health advisor. Please do get in touch with us for a free overview of your business’ occupational health.


Sun Protection Information For Employers

outdoor workers

We all welcome a little sunshine as spring and summer roll around, and this can make the job much more pleasant for outdoor workers. But as an employer you have the responsibility for the health of those employees who work outside most of the day, and the risks associated with hot, sunny weather.

If you’re a manager or an employer of people who work outside, you might find the following information helpful.

Risks of working in hot and sunny conditions

The sun’s UV rays can cause skin damage, including sun burn, ageing and skin cancer. This should be considered a hazard for people working outside. Heat can cause dehydration, so drink plenty of water.

Tips for employers

Make sure you pass on information about working outside in your routine health and safety training, informing employees that a tan is not healthy.

Encourage outdoor workers to regularly check their skin for strange spots and moles changing colour or size, and to seek medical advice if there is any concern.

Educate employees about the importance of staying hydrated and seeking areas of shade during their breaks. Situate break areas and water points in locations of shade.

Encourage workers to stay covered up, using hats and long sleeved tops, and regularly apply sunscreen.

The benefits

By ensuring your workforce is well equipped to deal with hot and sunny conditions and educated about the risks involved, you reduce the amount of employee health problems and sick days. Find further information within the HSE’s sun protection leaflet or speak to the team at OHBM.

Lack Of Effective Health Programs Costs £100billion A Year

Recent research has shown that the lack of understanding of effective health and wellbeing in the workforce is costing the UK economy more than £100billion a year. By tackling poor workplace health using more effective methods, the report says, the country could boost its GDP considerably.

UK productivity levels are at risk if companies ignore employee health, which could lead to a slower economic recovery for the country.

Of those workplaces that are looking into methods of effective health and wellbeing, too many are wasting their time and money on ineffective methods.

The study, which comes from the University of Salford and public health research consultants Caville Associates says that time and money is being wasted due to poor planning and execution of occupational health initiatives. This is despite the fact that there has been an increase in investment in workplace health over the last few years.

In answer to the problem, workplaces are being asked to form strategic partnerships to boost success rates of occupational health schemes. Asking advice from experts in the field such as OHBM, allows businesses to boost the success rates of their schemes by utilising the knowledge and experience of qualified industry professionals.

If you are seeking a way to implement a successful occupational health programme in your organisation, please speak to our advisers today. We offer free, impartial advice to senior managers, as well as a complementary analysis of your organisation, allowing you to make an informed decision.