In our previous blog, we discussed how employers who staff 25 or more employees must implement a written policy addressing disconnecting from work. But, what does this mean for both the employer and the employee and what are the benefits we hope to see?
It’s no secret the pandemic has entirely changed the way we work. Our homes have become our offices which has caused a huge disruption in our work-life balance. But, the work-from-home mandate is not the only culprit for the changed relationships with our jobs. It started long before that with access to technology everywhere we go. Our work is easily accessible through our phones, tablets, laptops, and maybe even our smartwatch. We have entirely normalized being reachable and accessible at all hours of the day. With pending deadlines and timelines, we’ve seemed to adopt an “always on” approach to work where we somehow feel guilty about shutting down.
Why is it important to disconnect from work?
Not only does disconnecting from work allow you to be physically present and engage in your personal life, but it also gives you the chance to disconnect emotionally and cognitively, which improves your overall well-being and mental health. Employees who are able to disconnect from work have been shown to have improved energy levels, better sleep cycles, increased concentration, and more positive moods.
What does this mean for employers?
For employers who are concerned about deadlines and work productivity with seemingly fewer working hours in a day – don’t worry! Allowing your employees to disconnect from work has been shown to increase productivity and interest in work. It also reduces employee burnout. A disconnect from work policy shifts your work culture to focus on the well-being of your staff and allows employees to feel heard, recognized, and appreciated. A happy employee with positive mental health will perform better, be more engaged, and have a more positive work ethic. Employers have also seen that with fewer work pressures, staff have higher retention rates and increased employee morale.
Tips and takeaways for employers:
- Allow your employees to reconnect with work by disconnecting from work.
- Normalize disconnecting!! Make sure your employees don’t feel guilty for disconnecting.
- When sending work emails: consider scheduling an email to send later if outside of working hours; be aware of the receiver’s time zone; manage your expectations on a response time.
- This policy is actually not a “right”. The law requires that employers have a policy addressing disconnecting from work, but it does not tell employers what that means or that employees must be allowed to disconnect during off-hours although normal hours of work restrictions continue to apply. Most employers will still want to retain the ability to contact workers in emergency situations and to communicate critical health and safety information. Nothing in the law restricts this.
- Lead by example.
For employees: FULLY disconnect! Turn off or mute work notifications after work hours so you aren’t tempted to check communications.